Disparate. Collegial. Decentralized. Collaborative.
If Chicago publishing professionals agree on one thing about the city's publishing scene, it's that it is not easy to characterize. About to celebrate 175 years as a major publishing hub (Chicago's first publisher, Robert Fergus, set up shop in 1839), today the city is ranked second in the printing and publishing industry, behind New York.
Some of the area's earliest publishers still survive, among them Rand McNally (est. 1856). Many houses are long gone, for example Reilly and Britton, which published L. Frank Baum's beloved Oz books. Some, like Scott, Foresman & Co. have been absorbed by other publishers. In fact, if Chicago publishing professionals lament one change that has taken place over the past decade or so, it is consolidation, to which a number of local publishers have fallen victim.
An energized Publishing Business Conference and Expo, Book Business and Publishing Executive magazines’ annual event at the Times Square Marriott Marquis, March 19-21, was grounded in optimism and realism, and primed for a promising future in the digital age for book manufacturing and print-based book production.
Addressing the overflow audience at the Marriott's Astor Ballroom, our very own Joan of Arc at the ramparts, Editorial Director Noelle Skodzinski—fully armed with the arguments of comon sense and history to support her—sounded a much-needed balancing and defiant keynote to prevailing “stiff upper lip” scenarios about the decline of the publishing industry. She reminded us, paraphrasing from both Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the Encyclopedia Britannica blog’s notice that it had discontinued its venerable print edition, that publishing is not dead, change is okay, and that the future is alive with new opportunities in our pursuit of continued success and excellence in the publishing business.
You know the saying, "A rolling stone gathers no moss." If today's publishing industry were the hypothetical stone, not only would it gather no moss, but sparks and smoke would be spewing out in its wake. Change is happening so fast. In its November/December issue last year, BookTech Magazine reported a story called "E-Book Technology Enters the Classroom" about a Kansas school district's implementation of an e-book program—3,000 handheld e-readers were given to students and staff, with access to 500 e-book titles. Today, "The eReader is part of the everyday delivery in the English classrooms," says Rita Lyons, Olathe Unified School District's director