“Today the book business stands at the edge of a vast transformation, one that promises much opportunity for innovation: much trial, much error, much improvement. Long before another half-century passes, the industry as I have known it for the past fifty years will have been altered almost beyond recognition.”—Jason Epstein
This was the opening quote projected on the screen at the Professional, Scholarly, & Academic Books Basic Books Boot Camp I attended this past Thursday in Philadelphia. I found this quote to be a quite inspirational beginning to my day full of publishing education. Sponsored by the Association of American Publishers, this boot camp was intended to provide a complete overview of scholarly publishing and all its facets. It was targeted for those with less than three years experience in the publishing industry, and since I have only been working at Oak Knoll for about a year a half, the Oak Knoll team felt I was the perfect candidate for this seminar.
As I arrived in Philadelphia, I started to make a mental list of what I really wanted to take away from the conference. Since my most important job at Oak Knoll is carrying out our marketing plans, I was hoping to gain some valuable insight in to how other publishers market their books. I also wanted to learn what we could do at Oak Knoll to better relate to our customers.
With only about twenty other people in attendance, the setting was very relaxed, friendly, and open. It wasn’t long after our first speaker John Jenkins, President and Publisher of CQ Press, began his presentation that I knew it was going to be a great day. In addition to John, the other presenters Gita Manaktala (MIT Press), Betsy Litz (Princeton University Press), Elizabeth Schacht (McGraw-Hill), Matt Conmy (Springer Publishing Company), and Molly Venezia (Rutgers University Press) spoke on topics including acquisitions, production, marketing, sales, and finances. Each listed the most important details for the various parts of the business, and while I found the each presentation fundamental to understanding publishing, I was most interested in Beth’s portion as it covered marketing. She stressed that creating a solid marketing plan for each book would allow each title to reach its full potential in terms of availability and awareness. She also showed me that the best marketers are good communicators who will stick close to the customer and understand what they need. This was a great point for me to consider in my own position as Publishing and Marketing Assistant
Besides the marketing portion, my second favorite part of the day was lunch! Not only because of the scrumptious sandwiches, salads, and cookies, but more importantly because of the opportunity we were given to solve a challenge that could potentially occur working in publishing. We were broken into groups of three to five people and presented with a piece of paper that stated a problem of which we had to devise a solution. In talking to my group members over lunch, I realized that certain situations may sometimes look like “problems,” but in fact, are only excellent opportunities to use creative thinking and out-of-the ordinary concepts to overcome the predicament. At the end of the day, each group presented their solution to the speakers, who in return, gave us their own input into how they might have handled the situation.
Overall, I was very impressed with how smoothly everything flowed, and how much information was able to be presented in one day. The book camp presented by the AAP was excellent and a great opportunity for those who are just starting out in publishing. Thank you to all the speakers and all the staff who had a part in organizing this awesome day! Hopefully, I will be able to take my new knowledge and put it in effect here at Oak Knoll.
As I am still learning how we can provide better service to our customers, I pose a couple questions to all you blog followers out there. How do you hear about new books? Where do you go to find information on new books? Is there something more we can do to make you aware of new titles we are publishing?
To share your thoughts, post a comment on the blog or send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!