Comments from YPC Director Tina Weiner
"It is abundantly clear that we are in the midst of a time of constant change in the publishing industry and this present both challenges and opportunities. Publishers should embrace the changes and the new models of business that are required and learn to be as flexible and nimble as possible. The new publishing ecosystem requires more than the tweaking of existing systems—we must be bolder, willing to reinvent how we operate, and increasingly think globally in order to prosper.
"At this summer’s Yale Publishing Course both the speakers and the attendees expressed confidence in their ability and willingness to embrace the idea of the co-existence of print and e-books. They were making great strides in using social media to reach their markets and seemed more open than ever to working closely with their authors to market their books and in keeping them better informed about how their books were being promoted. Several speakers addressed the need for greater attention to be paid to learn more about local markets when selling globally.
"This year’s session was more interactive than ever and the participants commented repeatedly that they felt they were learning from each other as much as from the speakers. Almost half the class came from outside the US (there were representatives from 12 other countries from as far as the UAE, Singapore, India, and China). There was a lot of buzz about how they were all facing similar challenges and great interest in hearing how others were dealing with difficult issues. It was clear that an added benefit of the Course is the ability to make new friends and expand one’s professional network throughout the world.
"I am already thinking about next year’s program, which will evolve as the year progresses. The curriculum will, of course, continue to tackle the most pressing issues that arise. It will definitely focus on building management and leadership skills, keeping abreast of advances in technology, new business models, and new channels of distribution. I hope to strengthen the international perspective and increase the opportunities for greater interaction between speakers and participants."
—Tina C. Weiner, Director of the Yale Publishing Course
Yale Book Publishing Course 2012
We Recap, Review, and Recommend
The Yale Book Publishing Course took place in July, and we couldn’t wait to share all the good things we heard. The course, now looking toward its fourth year on Yale’s New Haven campus, is a resource for large and small publishers alike. Read on for an interview with Martin Burton, President of London Town Press, and see how indie publishers can benefit from the expertise at the YPC.
"It’s not just a publishing course: it’s a publishing summit. It’s a TED conference without the spotlights, quietly gathering together thought leaders from multiple disciplines to speak on the most cutting edge developments in the business in an intimate, relaxed setting at one of the premier universities in the world."
—Martin Burton, President of London Town Press
IP: What were some of your expectations going into the YPC?
Burton:I hoped to spend a concentrated period of time focusing on larger trends affecting the business of publishing, reflecting on how my publishing program fits in, and gaining some friends in the industry. I got it all. The faculty dug into the details and meanings behind the trends. For example, we weren’t just told that “books” are going digital. We looked at how each segment of the value chain has become digital—creation, editing, production, distribution, discovery, consumption, and discussion—and how those developments are changing our practices. The instruction was MBA-level.
The attendees were equally high level: directors, editors, and entrepreneurs from publishing houses large and small, in the United States and internationally, representing traditional, nonprofit, and government agency publishers. They are good people, trying to make a difference in the business.
IP: Did you have a favorite presentation?
Burton:It is hard to come up with one favorite presentation. They were all so different. Some were broad overviews of megatrends, some more hands-on and practical; some were lectures, some were visual, some required participation; some were inspirational, some were nuts and bolts; some were academic and theoretical, some were pragmatic.
The best presentations combined these characteristics. For example, “Scholarly Publishing in the Digital Age” was taught by two executives from Yale University Press. They introduced us to envelope-pushing concepts such as “evolutionary” versus “revolutionary” innovation, followed with practical application of those concepts in their publishing niche, ending with a discussion of their own breakout bestsellers Nudge and A Little History of the World.
IP: What was the biggest takeaway point from the course?
Burton:A central theme emerged from multiple sessions: publishing is an inherently risky business. You cannot avoid risk, but you can manage it. You can embrace it. Learn from your successes, learn more from your mistakes, but recognize that uncertainty and risk are central to the publishing business.
IP: What does the YPC offer to smaller presses in particular?
Burton:The chance to meet face-to-face with the most influential people in the publishing business. For small publishers there really is no forum to gain access to what’s really going on in the most successful houses, to gain perspective on the publishing industry itself, or to spend quality time with the people who are moving and shaking the publishing world.
But the instructors at the Yale Publishing Course comprise some of the most fascinating people in publishing. They are selected because of the unique contributions they have made to the business. And they have spent substantial time in preparing for the course, reflecting on the topics they will discuss. Most of them stay for more than one day and join the students themselves, contributing in other sessions and learning as well. All instructors have been provided advance questions from the students they will teach and therefore come to the course knowing they have an audience eager to learn—and to challenge.
To learn more about the Yale Publishing Course, visit the website www.publishing-course.yale.edu.
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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.