Director Tina Weinerís Take on the 2011 YPC

IP: What made this year at the YPC different from last year?

Tina: I found that separating the course into book and magazine programs was the right thing to do. The end result was that we were able to delve deeper into of issues of each industry. The division also allowed us more time to have extended Q & A which led to fabulously interesting and lively discussions.
 

IP: What do you think small publishers gained from their week at the YPC?

Tina: Small publishers in particular benefited from the course because they were privy to experience and knowledge of the larger publishers and were also able to share experiences with companies of their own size. Networking worked well in both regards, as representatives from smaller houses could talk to people with wider experience but also talk to professionals that face similar challenges.
 

IP: Can you give us a look into what is lined up for next year?

Tina: Our curriculum will certainly cover many of the topics included this year, but I will be watching throughout the year to see which new issues arise. The course is an organic thing that changes with the relevant issues in the industry – this is what makes the course so dynamic.
 

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Feature

The Insiderís Guide to the Yale Book Publishing Course

Independent Publisher intern attends the course and shares the scoop.

Situated on one of the most prestigious campuses in the world, the Yale Publishing Course (YPC) brings together some of the greatest minds in the publishing and business industries. More than 65 of the top managers, directors, and CEOs from across the world gathered for this weeklong venture to New Haven, Connecticut.

I was fortunate enough to attend the final three days of the course, and I honestly can’t imagine a better way for a publisher to spend a week. The YPC was an educational course, a networking opportunity and a vacation all rolled into one (okay, it was a little light on the vacation side). Despite the fact that I arrived a few days into the week, I immediately sensed the feeling of camaraderie and mutual interest on Wednesday morning. Everyone gathered in the lobby, greeting each other like old friends and chatting over coffee.

By the time we arrived at the state-of-the-art Maurice R. Greenberg Conference Center, I no longer felt like an outsider.  I got to sit by Kirsty Melville, President of the Book Division of Andrews McMeel Publishing, at breakfast, and she engaged me (little intern me!) in discussions about issues in the industry. My Day One breakfast topics ranged from cartoon e-book conversions to cookbook author royalty rates to horror stories of book projects that would not end. If it wouldn’t have been wildly embarrassing, I would have been taking notes the entire time.

The meat and potatoes of the day consisted of multiple lectures from consistently amazing and inspiring professionals. I won’t rattle off the complete list (though you can find it here on the YPC website), but I must indulge myself in a bit of namedropping.

In addition to hearing from Kirsty Melville, we listened to the brilliant Martin Levin, Robert Baensch of Baensch Group International, Nigel Newton and George Gibson of the global (and independent!) power that is Bloomsbury Publishing, David Godine of David R. Godine Publishing and Roxanne Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers. We also heard from speakers from HaperCollins, Macmillan, Hachette, Amazon, Google, and Publishing Perspectives. This is only a very short list, and can’t possibly do credit to the incredible range and depth of the talented individuals who spoke during the course (so seriously, click on that link above and be jealous that I got to breathe the same air as these people).

Course topics primarily focused on the challenges in the publishing world today, including going digital, using social media, and changing business models, as well has how to handle change within the office. While there was a great deal of emphasis on the importance of embracing the e-book revolution, many speakers championed the printed book and gave participants tips on how to keep the tangible world of reading alive. Independent publishers benefited from speeches given by both large and small houses, and we’re interviewing two attendees from smaller presses in our September issue to get their take on the YPC.

Want to know who you’ll be spending time with when you attend? (And yes, I say when because you’d have to be crazy to miss this opportunity.) This year, there were participants from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and the UK, (a total of 17 countries) as well as from 14 U.S. states. The international component is one of the greatest assets of the course.

Where else can you learn about the bookselling concerns in the Philippines, the copyright laws of Finland, and the eReaders of Australia? If anyone can find a more wonderfully diverse publishing program, please let me know.

It was beyond enlightening to speak with these men and women, to track the status of digital technology and to share the love of books that so clearly transcends time and space. Of course, everyone there was serious about the publishing industry, but there was an element of good humor and collaboration among the participants.

Everyone was friendly and excited to be a part of the YPC, and this enthusiasm was contagious. I ran out of business cards on my first day (rookie mistake, I know) and met an amazing number of people who were willing to put me in touch with friends and colleagues to help pave my way into the industry. You don’t just make contacts with the participants, they truly become your friends. It’s a little bit like a summer camp (a slightly pricey, highly educational summer camp): you spend all day in the classroom with these folks, eat all meals together, go out in the evenings together, and are all concentrated in the same hotel. You don’t want to miss out on meeting this amazing group of people.

Meal times are the perfect opportunity to get to know the other publishers and get their opinions on the industry. You can learn firsthand how the big and small houses function and hear about the intimate working details of their companies and departments. Speakers mingled with the participants at breakfast, lunch and dinner and held office hours for one-on-one conversations. I was amazed at how many professionals were present and willing to work with the attendees, and was impressed by the unwavering dedication to publishing that was obvious in everyone there. Despite my personal weakness of homesickness, I was not looking forward to leaving on Friday afternoon. Friday was one of the more forward-thinking days (Director Tina Weiner refers to it as “future day”), and left us with a look into the next several years of publishing. After the final presentations finished, all of the participants received a certificate of completion of the Course, and Director Tina Weiner got a standing ovation.

Although the YPC “grads” scattered back to homes across the globe, everyone promised to stay in touch through email, Facebook and LinkedIn – plus there was talk of a reunion at BEA 2012! The Yale Publishing Course offers great speakers, active and engaged participants, a wonderful learning environment and more knowledge than you can gain anywhere else. It is, after all, the only publishing course for upper-level professionals.

I was completely blown away by every aspect of the Course, and keep in mind that I missed the first half. (For that, you readers might be lucky because this article would probably have been 5,000 words). I have made a very firm and serious decision to attend the course “for real” the moment I am eligible, and I came away from those three days so invigorated, inspired, and excited about this industry that I will probably drive everyone at Jenkins Group off their rocker (they are all receiving my 14 page, single spaced document of notes).

I highly recommend this course to anyone that wants to continue their publishing education or simply hear the thoughts of some of the most innovative folks in the business. The YPC is even more valuable in this time of great change, so put aside the tuition in your budget right now and get excited about your summer week at Yale. To get more information, visit the Yale Publishing Course website or check out our first article about the YPC!

*****

Jillian Bergsma is a writer and contributing editor for Independent Publisher. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English. She welcomes any questions or comments on her articles at jbergsma (at) bookpublishing.com.


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