Written by: Hannah Bennett, Pace MS in Publishing Alumni
When I was a student in the Pace Publishing program, I was impressed by the program’s commitment to publishing education around the world. But it wasn’t until I traveled to China with Professors Raskin, Lian, and Levitz that I truly understood the depth of that commitment. As I watched Professor Raskin and Professor Lian among their colleagues at Wuhan University, celebrating two long-lasting publishing programs, I was struck by all they had to be proud of. The Pace Publishing department has fostered true international collaboration and friendship in China.
I recently had the honor of attending the 4th International Conference on the Publishing Industry, co-hosted by Wuhan University and Pace University on November 23-24. While we were there, the Wuhan University Publishing program was also celebrating its 30th anniversary. Alumni gathered for the event, including many who had graduated in the program’s first graduating class. Now, 30 years later, some of those first graduates had come back to speak to the new students on the changing landscape of the publishing industry.
It was a pleasure to get to know some of the current Masters and Ph.D. students at Wuhan University during my time at the conference. Along with being excellent and unfailingly gracious hosts, they were happy to share their own insights on books, media consumption, and the trends in publishing and marketing in China. One of the real highlights of my time was a panel, lead by Professor Levitz, on the topic of media consumption in China. Students spoke to us about how Chinese students watch television, use social media, and interact with technology. I found that their habits had certain similarities to our own—for example, one student and I discussed the merits of the show Prison Break. Wentworth Miller, it seems, breaks down cultural barriers.
The speeches given during the conference dealt with a range of topics—some academic, others more technological. But underlying the entire conference was an emphasis on digital publishing and its effect on the industry. Professor Raskin gave the opening address on the first day of the conference. Pace’s Adjunct Professor Paul Levitz gave the keynote speech, called “Six Selves: Ramifications of a Digital Future.” His presentation explored the ways in which changes in technology are affecting the ways people think, and the ways in which they consume and produce media.
Professor Lian’s keynote speech was entitled “Publishers: What Business Are You In?” My own presentation, called “E-Oppportunities,” was meant to explain some of the new opportunities that we are seeing in the American ebook market, such as book subscription services, special sales channels, and international partnerships.
Other presentations focused on the reactions of Chinese print publishers to an ever-expanding e-reading market. Interestingly, in China most ebook reading is done on mobile phones, as opposed to dedicated e-readers or tablets. But ebook reading has not taken off to the same degree in China that it has in America. While Americans are seeing a stabilization of the ebook market, at least for now, the Chinese market is still in flux. The Chinese industry must figure out how (and how far) to transition in order to satisfy consumers with new needs.
But I must say that what really stands out to me from my trip to China was the incredible generosity, kindness, and sense of partnership that I encountered from everyone I met. Moreover, I cannot forget to mention Professor Raskin’s generosity in inviting me to attend. He and Professor Lian have created something truly special, and I was lucky to be a part of it.