In this article featured on Pace University‘s website, Professor Jane Kinney-Denning discusses the power of collaboration. Professor Denning is the M.S. in Publishing program’s Executive Director of Internships and Corporate Outreach, while also serving as the Women’s Nation Book Association‘s National President since 2016. Holding both positions, she has been able to provide an opportunity for collaboration between the M.S. in Publishing program and the WNBA. Students are encouraged to become WNBA-NYC members and attend WNBA events, in order to network and learn more about the publishing industry.
To read more about Professor Denning and her opinion about the power of collaboration, click here.
Personally, I was struck by the warmth of the people I met. It was very exciting to meet dignitaries from Phoenix Publishing & Media Group and China Publishing Group, which are among the largest publishing companies in the world. But it was heartening to meet a number of former students who were so grateful to Professor Raskin and Professor Lian for what they learned at Pace.
I was lucky to have a tour guide in Beijing who worked at China Publishing Group named Yin “Ling” Mengling. I spoke with her at length about some of the great opportunities available in publishing associations in New York. We also discussed a book called Designing Your Life, which I recommend people use to think about their career and life goals.
After we parted, she paid for her own overnight train to Wuhan to attend the weekend conference and take Professor Lian, Professor Raskin and me around Wuhan University. She has since started a Literary Salon speaker series for her friends and colleagues, which she said I inspired her to do. Mark Fretz, who also attended the conference as part of the delegation from Pace, spoke at the inaugural session. I am very proud of Ling and happy I was able to touch her life.
Another thing that struck me in China that I hadn’t fully appreciated before was the giant contribution that Professor Raskin and Professor Lian have made to publishing education in China. Professor Lian was actually one of the founding members of the first publishing program in China at Wuhan University and was instrumental in starting the partnership between Pace and Wuhan U. Professor Raskin has made extremely strong relationships with the major publishing companies in China and, because of this, the companies have hand-picked executives to come train at Pace every year. (And they were able to start the Confucius Institute at Pace University, where I took Chinese classes before I went.) I have a newfound respect for the hard work they have done to build such strong ties.
At the conference, my talk was on innovation. I spoke about projects in the publishing industry, including grass-roots efforts, where employees at any level can test their idea and pitch it to management. I was surprised that I was asked how an employee would be reprimanded if they had an idea that failed. I explained the value of a learning organization, where failing fast (and small) is a good thing. I was happy to see that they were thinking about how this idea could be implemented in their environment, and I hope in the future that organizations encourage their employees to submit ideas.
While Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites are blocked in China, the country is very technologically advanced. Most people use a platform called WeChat, which is a combination of the functionality of many programs in the U.S. like texting, FaceTime/Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and many others. (WeChat was created by TenCent, a phone company.) Many restaurants have you order and pay through your phone with Alipay, which is from the e-commerce company Alibaba, which has 423 million annual active buyers and about 80 per cent market share of e-commerce in China. There are QR codes everywhere on posters, bus shelters, ads, and menus, and they are very useful in connecting quickly through WeChat and other systems. I made many new contacts and friends in China and hope to stay in touch through WeChat.
I also visited many bustling bookstores in China. It was incredible to see the multi-story homage to the books owned by Phoenix Publishing & Media Group. I also visited a few branches of the Librarie Avant-Garde, including the famous one in a former bomb shelter/parking garage that has a beatnik vibe; a rustic one in a lush park, where you could sink into a comfy chair and feel like you were in a log cabin surrounded by books; and one on the Purple Mountain that sold only poetry books with lots of little rooms to explore. I felt right at home!
It was a fascinating trip, and I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to go! It really opened my eyes to different perspectives and I learned a lot about international publishing, innovation, and myself.
In the last couple of weeks three iconic companies made major moves toward reinvention, however these moves are not reflecting a positive outlook on their own futures, or for the print magazine industry overall.
First, Time Inc. laid off 300 people recently. “The June 13th cutbacks came three years almost to the week when the company spun off from Time Warner,” according to the Folio article. The company is also relocating one of its titles, Food & Wine, to Alabama, partly because of cost considerations. Wenner Media announced it had sold Men’s Journal to American Media. This sale leaves the once-powerful company with just a 51 percent stake in flagship Rolling Stone and a gaming website launched last year. Rodale was also said to have cut 80-100 employees ahead of an announcement “that it is exploring strategic options.” The company announced in January that “it was selling some of its properties in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, in a bid to centralize and to raise $4.6 million.”
Time Inc. CEO Rich Battista, through a spokesperson, told Folio writer Tony Silber “that further consolidation (presumably of the kind that just happened at his company) is likely given the long-term secular decline in print.” It seems for media companies today, it is more important to build a bran than to rely on print businesses and practices.
“The industry is evolving quickly, and while change can be disruptive, it also brings opportunity,” a senior Rodale executive said to Silber.