The Independent Book Publishers Association will hold its annual Publishing University in Chicago in just a few weeks, on April 26th and 27th. The organization was founded thirty years ago by what president Florrie Kichler calls a “group of small publishers who couldn’t get their books out anywhere into the trade.”
Where is the book industry going, what will my workplace and career opportunities be like, what do I need to know to keep up with the times? Or, in a more cosmic vein, what does the future hold?
In an effort to answer these questions, publishers have settled each year into a series of industry meetings of general interest. Each has a unique theme, as noted below. They make the effort to bring together a cross section of publishers, associations, service providers and media professionals to connect with audiences ranging from first-time aspirants to seasoned managers and executives in every channel and of every level of responsibility.
Following is my own overview of the events with which I have become familiar through the years. I would say that a judicious choice of BEA or ALA and any one of the others whose focus comes closest to your own would provide a more than satisfying menu. If I had to attend only one: (a) I would pick BEA or ALA if my interest was in authors, reading, content and publishing as an enterprise, and (b) if my primary concerns were business development and operating management, I would choose any of the others from whose quality of attendee profiles and lists of presenters, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors I would expect to learn the most.
When it comes to author negotiations, Florrie Kichler has it relatively easy. “As a publisher, I do the reissues of classic children’s book series,” Kichler says. “Most authors are dead.” Of course, even with writers who have shuffled off this mortal coil, there are still issues of rights and payments, and negotiations with families or estates. As the president of Indianapolis-based Patria Press and president of the PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association, Kichler has an excellent vantage point on the challenges faced by publishers when negotiating contracts, whether with those living or dead. “I don’t offer advances, but I do offer a