Shop Local; Read Local
Our country is in the midst of a growing “shop local” movement, urging folks to support their neighborhood stores, eat locally grown produce, and all-around stay close to home with one’s dollars. I’ve taken this local movement to heart in my support of the Philadelphia writing community.
I grew up in Philadelphia, but moved to New York after college to pursue a career in book publishing. After my many years in New York, I definitely possessed that “New York is the center of the world” attitude illustrated by that famous New Yorker cartoon at the right. Yet eventually, high rents and an enticing job offer brought me, with my new family, back to Philadelphia ten years ago. Once back in town, I discovered, to my great surprise and delight, a rich and thriving publishing and writing community.
On the publishing side, Philadelphia has long been a center of STM publishing, with such stalwarts as Elsevier and Wolters Kluwer. Philadelphia is home to two creative and idiosyncratic mid-size trade publishers, Running Press and Quirk Books, as well as a surprisingly large range of small independent book publishers. On the magazine side, we go from city mag—the strong and oft-controversial Philadelphia magazine—to literary—the nearly ten-year-old non-profit Philadelphia Stories—and many options in between. And our local newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, still rakes in Pulitzers, including one in 2012 for a series about violence in the schools.
On the author side, we can lay claim to quite a few writers who regularly reside on the bestseller lists, including Jennifer Weiner and Lisa Scottoline, but it’s the breadth and depth that exists around those brand names that astounds.
Yesterday I had the good fortune to sit around a table with a number of these impressive local literary lights. The table in question was in our office conference room here at NAPCO, at a small luncheon we hosted to celebrate the local writing and publishing community. Over sandwiches and conversation about self-publishing and the huge number of new books being published, ebooks, publicity, and community building, writers, some publishers, and a literary agent shared experiences and ideas in a lively and long conversation.
It would take me a great deal of space and a large number of words to fully describe the many accomplishments of this talented group, but I will try, over time, to introduce you to their work. Here are a few highlights for starters: the prolific Beth Kephart just published a new book * Nathaniel Popkin is writing a weekly column on local arts & culture * Carrie Hagen has a new work of historical non-fiction coming out about Benedict Arnold * Pat Raccio Hughes's latest YA novel (also about Benedict Arnold!) is now out in paperback * Linda Gallant is editorial director of the recently-launched The Head and the Hand Press * Christine Weiser is building a following for Philadelphia Stories Jr., the spin-off her successful literary magazine * Karen Rile launched a new lit mag called Cleaver * Poet Lynn Levin has two new books out, including the poetry collection Miss Plastique * Meredith Broussard will be teaching data-driven journalism at Temple U next spring. Oh, there’s so much more! To be continued…