WNBA at the Strand: An Interview with Award-Winning Biographer Deirdre Bair

It was truly my pleasure to introduce all who attended the Strand Underground event, April 7, to Dr. Deirdre Bair, the award-winning, critically-acclaimed biographer of some of the twentieth century’s most important voices. Although I have always known Dr. Bair was an important biographer, the research I did before I interviewed her at the Strand Book Store impressed upon me just how important her work is and how lasting and impactful it will continue to be.  Her dedication to the craft of biography and to honestly and truthfully present the lives of her important cultural and literary subjects is a gift for the layperson and scholar alike.

Dr. Bair won the National Book Award for Samuel Beckett: A Biography. While still a graduate student she decided that there needed to be a comprehensive study made of the Irish avant-garde writer, poet, and dramatist, Samuel Beckett, so she wrote him a letter to ask if he would agree to meet with her. It was a very brave step for an unpublished biographer, especially given Beckett’s reputation for guarding his privacy. But Beckett responded by saying that he would “neither help nor hinder” her, and offered to introduce her to his friends; his enemies, he assured her, “you will find soon enough.” It was the beginning of a long process that produced a biography that in Beckett’s own words “got it right.”

Dr. Bair also regaled us with an account of the time she spent with the subject of her second biography, Simone De Beauvoir, the influential French existentialist philosopher, feminist and writer. The stories of her weekly meetings and conversations with De Beauvoir were fascinating to the audience, and shed some very interesting light on the personality and world of the woman who wrote the infamous, The Second Sex.

Anais Nin, whom Dr. Bair refers to as a “major-minor” writer, came next.  Perhaps best remembered for her diaries and erotic literature, Nin left behind box upon box of voluminous diaries which had been rewritten and edited many times. Getting a glimpse into the work and writing-process of the complicated double-life that Nin lived was spellbinding.

Dr. Bair’s next subject was Carl Jung, one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century and the founder of Analytical Psychology. The Jung biography won the Gradiva Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis. How writing this book came to be was also a fascinating story and learning that Dr. Bair had to learn German before writing it is a true testament to her dedication to the art and craft of writing biography!

Dr. Bair’s latest biography (which will be published this fall by Random House) is about Saul Steinberg, the Romanian-born American cartoonist and illustrator best known for his work in The New Yorker. For the New York audience, this subject was particularly interesting and we are all looking forward to its publication.

It was a wonderful, thought-provoking evening and the iconic Strand Underground, with its superb staff of book-lovers, was the perfect venue for this event.

The Independent Book Publishers Association Conference

IBPA

Currently Enrolled M.S. inPublishing Students and Faculty are cordially invited to attend the 2011 annual book publishing conference sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Called IBPA University, this conference will be held May 22nd and 23rd (before the BEA) at the Javitz Convention Hall in New York. There are some very interesting lecturers, including two from M.S. in Publishing Advisory Board members, Cevin Bryerman, the Associate Publisher of Publisher’s Weekly and Jennifer Weltz, a partner at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.

If you are interested in attending some or all of the lectures, please email the Executive Director, Terry Nathan, at terry@ibpa-online.org.  Please copy Professor Jane Denning at jdenning@pace.edu on the email to Mr. Nathan.

To select the sessions that you would like to attend in advance, please view their schedule here.

Please note that this is an expensive conference and you are asked to bring your own lunches but admission is free!  There will be a special section reserved for students during the keynote luncheon at 12:00 on Monday, May 23rd. If you would like to learn more about the conference,  visit the conference website.

Pace University Hosts First Pace-Hunan Publishing Training Program

Hunan Group
The Hunan Publishing Group

From March 21st to April 8th 2011, Pace University’s Publishing Department hosted the first Pace-Hunan Publishing Training Program. A group of Chinese publishing professionals who sought to learn more about publishing practices in the U.S. were engaged by three weeks of intense coursework that threw them into the heart of modern American publishing.

Courses ranged from site visits to Bloomberg News Headquarters, to lectures on “Content Organization”, “Best Practices in Employee Recruitment, Development, and Retention”, and “Brand Management and Intellectual Properties.” Program participants had the chance to meet and attend lectures from industry giants like Jason Epstein, Michael Healy, Eric Frank, and George Slowik.

Pace University’s own Prof. Melissa Rosati and Prof. Kirsten Sandberg, who together presented many of the lectures during the program (with the assistance of Prof. Xiao Lian), had this to say about the experience:

We were fascinated by the tension between the openness the Chinese executives displayed as technology consumers and the hesitation they have as content producers.  During our lectures, several participants were using laptops and handheld devices to text, email, surf the Internet, read downloads, and take and upload photographs in real time–behavior perhaps more typical of executives at Google, Amazon, and Apple than at the Big Six publishers. Almost every morning, an executive came to class with new iPad2 or another gadget. Their unbridled enthusiasm of new publishing platforms as consumers was in contrast to their hesitation as producers, and with good reason: piracy is as much a problem there as it is here, except that their government does not rigorously enforce copyright protection or crack down on unauthorized online content distributors. That is a big concern in a country with some 457 million Internet users, over 40% of which read literary content online or via their mobile devices.

Our theme for the program was Innovation and Collaboration. We emphasized that publishing’s future is in a company’s ability to think in terms of content ecosystems, where creators and readers are connected through one or many social media applications and platforms. Underscoring our theme were guest speakers from Flat World Knowledge, IBM, Bowker, BISG, Barrons, John Wiley, among others.

Director of the M.S. in Publishing Program at Pace, Professor Raskin:

The Hunan Publishing Group is a very prestigious publishing organization in the Hunan province of China. We were pleased to have the opportunity to train and educate their executives and give them an understanding of how we publish books here in the U.S. Most importantly, we are working to create understanding between the U.S. and China, so we’re fostering good relations as well as a first-rate publishing education.

Professors Sandberg and Rosati give their remarks
Professors Raskin and Whitson pose for pictures

The next training group will include members from China’s Phoenix Publishing & Media Group, from May 9th through the 27th.

Tickets to the 2011 BEA Available for FREE for Pace Students

BEABookExpo America is the largest annual book trade fair in the United States. Nearly all significant book publishers in the United States, and many from abroad, have booths and exhibits at BEA, and use the fair as an opportunity to showcase upcoming titles, sell current books, socialize with colleagues from other publishing houses, and sell and buy subsidiary rights and international rights. Authors, librarians, and buyers for book retailers also attend the event.

This year, the BEA will be on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the 24th through the 26th.

Pace university students will have the opportunity to attend via a limited supply of 3-day passes so students can come and go at their leisure. However, students need to let us know if they are interested in attending in the morning or afternoon and on which days since you may have to hand off your badge to another student.

Please let us know if you are interested in Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, and whether you are interested in attending in the morning or afternoon.

Please email puboffice@pace.edu with this information.

Below is the posted schedule of events from BEA’s Official Website.

Tuesday, May 24
8:00 am – 9:30 am Children’s Book & Author Breakfast
8:00 am – 5:00 pm Press Room Hours
9:00 am – 4:30 pm Big Ideas at BEA Conference
9:00 am – 5:00 pm Exhibit Hall
9:00 am – 5:00 pm Exhibitor Meeting Rooms
9:00 am – 5:00 pm International Rights & Business Center
Wednesday, May 25
8:00 am – 9:30 am Adult Book & Author Breakfast
8:00 am – 5:00 pm Press Room Hours
9:00 am – 5:00 pm Big Ideas at BEA Conference
9:00 am – 5:00 pm Exhibit Hall
9:00 am – 5:00 pm Exhibitor Meeting Rooms
9:00 am – 5:00 pm International Rights & Business Center
4:00 pm APA Audiobook & Author Tea
Thursday, May 26
8:00 am – 9:30 am Adult Book & Author Breakfast
8:00 am – 3:00 pm Press Room Hours
9:00 am – 3:00 pm Big Ideas at BEA Conference Sessions
9:00 am – 3:00 pm Exhibit Hall
9:00 am – 3:00 pm Exhibitor Meeting Rooms
9:00 am – 3:00 pm International Rights & Business Center