Alumni in the Spotlight: Drucilla Shultz

Alum_Spotlight3In this alumni interview, Prof. Denning speaks with Drucilla Shultz, an MS in Publishing graduate who has furthered her publishing career as Bookroom Editor at Publishers Weekly (also known as PW).

Before her publishing dreams took her to New York City, Drucilla Shultz was born and raised in a small town in southern Arkansas. After graduating with a degree in English from Hendrix College in 2011, Drucilla got a double shock: the Pace Publishing program (graduating in 2013) and New York City. Despite her mother calling every time something in NY makes the news and sending her vials of pepper spray with alarming frequency, Drucilla has settled into her life of reading and video games quite well and looks forward to her one year anniversary as Bookroom editor at Publishers Weekly.

Professor Denning: Hello Drucilla! Please tell us where you currently work and what is your job title? Also tell us a little about your company and what they do.

Drucilla: Hi! I currently work at Publishers Weekly as the Bookroom Editor. Publishers Weekly is a weekly magazine featuring industry news and pre-publication reviews. I’m also an editorial assistant at BookLife, which is our site that’s geared towards self-publishing news and helping self-published authors achieve their goals. Indie authors can submit their books for PW review consideration there as well.

Professor Denning: What does your job as a Bookroom Editor entail? Can you describe some of the work you do?

Drucilla: Well, I oversee the PW bookroom (and the interns that work there) and, consequently, deal with any non-technical issues with GalleyTracker, our online reviews submission system. In addition, I assist the Reviews editors in whatever they need, including taking on their role when they’re on vacation/leave. That’s one of my favorite parts of the job! As a BookLife editorial assistant, I answer customer service emails for BookLife and our PW Select marking program as well as conduct author interviews for the site.

Alumni pic
Drucilla Shultz

Professor Denning: How is it different working for your company (Publishers Weekly) than other publishing companies in the industry?

Drucilla: Technically this is my first “real” job in the publishing industry and the internships I’ve had have been very different from one another and from what I’m doing now. I’ve interned at the Children’s Book Council, Macmillan Children’s Publishing, and at PW (before they hired me, of course). I think two things set PW apart from other companies: the fact that we work on a weekly schedule (much faster than the 1-2+ year turnaround that publishing companies work with!) and that I get to see such a wide variety of books. Smaller publishers don’t have this problem, but when I talk to friends at bigger houses, they usually complain that they have tunnel vision in regards to their imprint. I love that I get to see all of the different books that come in.

Professor Denning: Why did you choose the particular field or aspect of publishing you are currently in? How did you get this job?

Drucilla: I’ve always wanted to do editorial work, but I kind of just lucked into the PW position. The previous Bookroom editor was promoted to a Reviews editor position and they knew I was looking for a job so they offered it to me. I had always heard about people being hired on after their internships ended and I’d think, “Those lucky dogs!” Now I guess I’m the lucky one.

Professor Denning: What do you love about of your job and what are some of your favorite parts? What are the perks and highlights of being part of the publishing industry?

Drucilla: The perks are definitely the books! I think everyone in the industry will agree with that (it certainly isn’t the paycheck!) I’ve been a huge reader all of my life so getting to learn the nuts and bolts behind my favorite pastime is always eye-opening. And I love that my job is so varied. I do so many different things in a day. If I get bored or frustrated, I can move onto something else for a short while.

Professor Denning: How do you think that technology has impacted and continues to impact the Publishing Industry? In particular, editing? Are there any traditional methods that you see staying the same despite technological advances?

Drucilla: Being able to get immediate feedback from an editor or literary agent or the printer or author or readers is the single most important thing to happen to the publishing industry. Being able to writing clear, precise comments on a manuscript and immediately send it to an author has definitely helped the editing process.

Professor Denning: Do you have any thoughts about what the future might hold for bookselling? What do you think are the biggest challenges in the Publishing Industry today?

Drucilla: I think we can safely assume at this point that print books aren’t going anywhere so I think the biggest challenge on the horizon is Amazon. Industry people have talked about Amazon’s business practices for years but Amazon still managed to stay in the background. It wasn’t until the Amazon-Hachette battle shoved them into the limelight that people outside the industry started to pay attention. I’m going to be very interested in what happens the next few years.

Professor Denning: Where do you see yourself in the future — 5 to 10 years into your career?

Drucilla: I’m not sure. I’m still absorbing the fact that this is the first time that my job doesn’t come with an hourly salary! I had never considered working at a magazine before (in fact I actively avoided magazines courses at Pace), but I really enjoy working at PW. I said this before, but I just love seeing all of the different genres that come in every day and unless I went to work at a smaller house (or managed to snag the right imprint at a bigger house), I wouldn’t get to see that.

Professor Denning: Please tell me a bit about how your educational experience at Pace prepared you for your publishing career.

Drucilla: Learning from people who were working in the industry was a big help because it gave me a better understanding of publishing. I had no idea what the industry was like before I started classes and my professors gave me a basic overview which my internships could expand.

Professor Denning: What were some of the highlights of your graduate experience? Are there any  teachers, courses or just fond classroom memories here?

Drucilla: Well, I’ve already mentioned how much I love children’s books so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I took the Children’s course with Professor Soares. It was my first taste of children’s publishing and I loved it. The guest speakers we had were fantastic. In fact, just about all of the guest speakers I had in my classes turned out to be wonderful. I was also surprised at how much I liked Supply Chain Management with Professor DiMascio. I didn’t really know what to expect and I learned a lot. Book Production and Design with Professor Delano was another favorite.

Professor Denning: Did you do an internship(s) while getting you degree? Can you tell us a bit about your experience(s)?

Drucilla: I took the Internship course and did my internship with the Children’s Book Council. I was the Library and Special Projects intern. It didn’t have much to do with the publishing industry per se, but it was a fun little internship. I love organizing and keeping track of things and that was basically what the internship was. And again, it was fascinating to see the wide variety of books come in.

Professor Denning: What was your topic for your thesis paper? Do you have any advice or tips for students currently writing theirs?

Drucilla: My topic was Crowdfunding in Publishing and, by extension, I included self-publishing. At the time, there wasn’t much information so I had to make it work. I recommend setting a schedule for yourself: a section/paragraph every couple of days. This way you won’t get burned out writing or put it off for too long. I also found index cards to be extremely helpful. I would write each of my sections on a different notecard so I could get a clearer view of what the paper would be before I had actually written it. Finally, don’t worry too much. I agonized over my graduate thesis and it turned out that the whole process was easier than what I had to do for my undergraduate thesis!

Professor Denning: What advice would you give students entering the field do to set themselves apart from other applicants? Do you look for anything specific on a resume or in an interview?

Drucilla: Be extremely well read and not just in your genre. When I interview, I like to ask about favorite books or the last book that they read. I think it’s a good way to evaluate not just an applicant, but any person. I just discover “reading challenges” on the internet and I highly recommend them. There are many different kinds and they’re a good way to cover a wide variety of books that you otherwise may not have picked up.

Professor Denning: Is there anything else you would like to share?

Drucilla: Lots of really clichéd advice comes to mind, but other than that, make friends in the industry. Not networking, but actual friends. It’s such a stress reliever to be able to talk to someone who understands your job. And you never know when they’ll be able to pass along that book you’ve been dying to read!

Thank you for doing this interview with us!

Alumni in the Spotlight

Alum_Spotlight3In this alumni interview, Prof. Denning speaks with Dan Shao and Mengqi Li, two recent MS in Publishing graduates who have returned to China to continue their publishing careers.

Dan Shao graduated from Pace in May 2013 after working at Open Road Integrated Media for two years. Now she is the Deputy Director of Platform Operation Department at CNPIEC (China National Publications Import and Export Company). She started her path to publishing in childhood. Growing up in her family’s printing factory, she loved the smell of paper and ink and started to study all the different ways of binding. Dan received her bachelor’s degree from Zhejiang Gongshan University in editing and publishing and worked for her university’s press as an editor for a year. She then attended Pace University’s MS in Publishing program to start her fantastic digital publishing journey.

Prof. Denning:  Hi, Dan. Could you tell me a little about the progression of your career since graduating from Pace? How has the adjustment been, from school to work?

Dan: My path was quite simple. I started my internship at Open Road Integrated Media in my third semester, which turned into full-time employment after I graduated in 2013. The next year, I went back to China to work for CNPIEC, which stands for China National Publication Import and Export (Group) Company.

Working for a company and doing a master’s degree at school are quite different. There are lots of new things to learn and adapt to…little things like how to book a meeting room, get familiar with the kitchen (haha, just kidding), everything is brand new to me. I think the internship helped me a lot—helped me transition from school to work smoothly. Also, I am doing something that’s real; the books I created will be sold in Apple Store and Amazon straight to the readers’ hands. That makes me really excited be involved in this industry.

Please tell us about your experience at Pace studying for your MS in Publishing degree.

Dan: I entered Pace after one year working as an editor in China because I thought the world was turning to digital, and I need to learn something new. Pace offered me all the good resources, the professors, the wonderful lab (I learned all publishing-related software here, did lots of my homework here, talked with my lovely classmates here… wonderful memories!), and of course networking.

The thing I love most about Pace is that lots of our professors come from the industry and know the industry very well. We learned things both from the textbook and the professors’ rich experience. They taught us comprehensive knowledge an provided  hands-on training. I really want to thank Professor Raskin, Professor Denning, Professor Lian, Professor Soares, Professor Delano, Professor Baron, Barbara Egidi…I just want to thank everyone I met at Pace!

Could you tell me about your current job? What is it that you enjoy most? What’s the hardest thing you’ve encountered in your career?

Dan ShaoDan: I am the Deputy Director of Platform Operation Department in the Digital Development Center at CNPIEC now. My work is to lead the production team; all our content will be sold on our digital platform, which is called CNPeReading. CNPeReading has aggregated millions of digital content files, including magazines, journals, ebooks, audio, video, and all other digital materials. CNPeReading sells this content to libraries and institutional users directly, and will cover individuals in the near future. If anyone is interested in our platform, feel free to e-mail me (

I love the way everyone is connected in our daily job and people work together to solve problems and conquer challenges.

The hardest thing I have encountered in my career… hmm, I think it might be at my previous job at Open Road. I was a digital production editorial assistant when it turned into full-time position. But two months later, my manager left the company and they were not able to find someone to fill her position. I took over all her responsibility for half a year, creating ebooks, talking to production-related software providers, working with marketing and editorial teams, and managing interns. That was a really fast growing process for me, but the experience enriched me; I learned to manage people, arrange tasks, and communicate with people well. Over time, it made me more confident.

You worked for Open Road Media, which is a heavily digital company. Have you always been interested in the digital aspects of publishing? How did working there influence you?

Dan: Yes, I can always learn new things in digital publishing, which is why I’ll always love it. The experience with Open Road helped me to understand the trends, technologies, standards, and business models in digital publishing.

What are some digital trends that you’ve been noticing in the publishing industry, specifically those in your area of work?

Dan: From my point of view, mobile reading is absolutely the trend in China. You can see people reading on their mobile phones everywhere, especially on the subway. Last year publishers got billions of dollars in revenue from mobile reading. I believe this will be the trend, and the market has huge potential.

What would you tell students who are beginning to look for work in publishing? Were there any pieces of wisdom that you employed to help you in your search?

Dan: I would say use the network you have at developed at Pace. Recommendations from people in the industry help a lot. I really want to thank you, Professor Denning, for recommending me to Open Road.

Also, you will need one skill that others do not have, or others are not doing well as you do. Open Road still hired me as their consultant after I went back to China, because I know how to create interactive eBooks, which is a more comprehensive epub format.

How has your education at Pace and elsewhere affected you in your pursuit of a career in publishing? Have you always been interested in publishing?

Dan: Yes! I love publishing, and I love the way publishing affects our life and society.  I studied publishing during my undergraduate schooling, learned basic knowledge of the publishing industry, went to Pace after one year’s working experience as a proof editor, worked for Open Road for two years, and then came to CNPIEC. I am happy that I am always doing something digital, and I will continue my digital path all the way.

What are some of the biggest challenges that you think publishing is facing now?

Dan: Amazon is definitely one of the biggest challenges for publishers in America. In China, I would say the piracy, because there is still tons of free content online that a lot of people are downloading. It is still the biggest issue in the industry. Government, publishers, readers should all put forth effort to change the situation.

What advice do you have for students who aren’t sure about where they want to land in publishing?

Dan: Find internships and try different positions. I saw some interns work for Open Road and they figured out if they loved a certain job or not after trying different departments. We had an intern who worked in our production department first, then interned for the marketing team, and found herself liking the marketing position better.

What are some valuable lessons or skills that you’ve learned since starting work full-time?

Dan: Team work! I know everyone knows team work is essential, but I truly understand how important team work is in my work. Everyone in the team needs to communicate with each other to make the work process clear and efficient.

In China, the whole industry is quite different than it is in America. Every publisher claims they are going digital, and everyone does their own thing using their own standards. We got all kinds of original digital files from publishers, resulting in a lot of extra work for our production team. Our team did a lot of work together to deal with these files and build our own standards for both the original files and our e-products.  That’s all team work; no one can do his job by himself.

What are your thoughts on the current discussion of digital rights?

Dan: Digital rights are always the issue in the industry. Open Road had dealt with issue before, but I didn’t quite understand the judgement. I think the judgement was a misunderstanding and misreading. In my opinion Digital publishers owns the digital rights so long as they received permission from the authors.

 How do you think students ought to approach their brand new careers in publishing?

Dan: Be brave and see yourself as a blank slate to learn things in the tough and wonderful publishing world.  A publishing career is a good life.




Mengqi LiMengqi Li is the Digital Project Manager at Penguin Random House China and a May 2014 graduate of Pace’s MS in Publishing program. Mengqi is from China where she received her bachelor’s degree from Nanjing Normal University, majoring in Theatre, Television, and Films. During her time at Pace, she interned at Open Road Integrated Media and became a part-time editor for a year.

Professor Denning:  Hello, Mengqi. Could you tell me a little about the progression of your career since graduating from Pace? How has the adjustment been, from school to work?

Mengqi: Hi Prof. Denning, thank you for asking me to do this interview! I miss my Pace Publishing classmates a lot now that I am in China! When I graduated from Pace, I had already been working at Open Road Integrated Media as a part-time digital production editor for over 6 months. I was extremely fortunate last September. I had the chance to be the special authorized liaison for The First World Digital Conference (Beijing, 2014). I invited international guest speakers from the US, Spain, and Brazil. For example, Open Road CEO Jane Friedman and PublishNews CEO Carlo Carrenho came. After attending that conference as an interpreter for Open Road, I was recommended for Penguin Random House China and luckily got my current full-time job as a Digital Project Manager in Beijing.

The knowledge I learned at Pace helped me a lot in the real world. The publishing industry in China is different, from government policy to consumer behavior. Although I had hands-on experience in publishing, I still feel new to this industry and I am learning every day.

Please tell us about your experience at Pace studying for your MS in Publishing degree.

Mengqi: I wasn’t from a publishing-related major when I was accepted to Pace. I worked for a provincial TV station in China as a hostess, editor, and video maker. I knew that I wanted to change my field, so when I found the Pace Publishing program, I thought about Digital Publishing— “Ha! That would be interesting and still in the media area (this is totally not true for books!)”. My first semester at Pace was extremely hard. I didn’t know the NYTimes Bestseller authors and had no idea about Marketing Principles, Finance, or Electronic Publishing. My daydream about publishing was too naïve. Nevertheless, Pace Publishing has very good, kind, and professional teachers and amazing, talented students! I received encouragement from them and learned quickly from the well-prepared courses.

My experience at Pace taught me that publishing is a small industry, but reflects the changes in every aspect of modern society. To survive in the current tide, you have to think smart, work hard, and keep learning.

Could you tell me about your current job? What is it that you enjoy most? What’s the hardest thing you’ve encountered in your job?

Mengqi: My current job is Digital Project Manager at Penguin Random House China. I am handling digital-related projects and assisting my colleagues in providing digital solutions. The merging of Penguin and Random House finally completed in China, and 2015 marks the 80th anniversary of Penguin and its 10th year in China. So, I am doing some special cases for the celebration and branding.

Working at PRH China, I am able to communicate with PRH staffs around the world. Penguin is a very creative publishing house. I am intrigued by their amazing ideas every week! Our parent company Bertelsmann organizes seminars about the hot topics frequently within the group, so I feel even though I am in publishing, I can get to know other industries as well.

PRH is a foreign company in China. We can’t publish books independently due to censorship. We have to co-publish with a local publishing house. Feeling confined is hard, but on the other hand, it gives me opportunity to learn the reality in Beijing efficiently. China has quickly developed in the past 4 years and Beijing is a new home to me; I am still in the exploratory stage.

You interned for Open Road Media, which is a heavily digital company. Have you always been interested in the digital aspects of publishing? How did interning there/working there influence you?

Mengqi: Yes! I like digital publishing. I was interning in the digital production team. My primary responsibility was to assist in creating eBooks. I practiced my skills there and gained hands-on experience in digital publishing. Working as a part-time editor later gave me the opportunity to handle some titles independently and corrected my opinions about digital publishing. For example, I wrote my thesis about metadata, because I believed that data was power enough to lead the trend of publishing. However, with help from the metadata coordinator, I did research and read several papers/books about big data and metadata, and I realized the reality is much more complicated.

Working at Open Road was a precious experience for me. Although it was a temporary job, I learned how to be professional, strong, and enhance myself. Also, it was my honor to work with Jane Friedman. When I left Open Road, I got her hand-written recommendation letter. The words she wrote about me and the greetings from my colleagues encouraged me to pursue the career I dreamed of.

What are some digital trends that you’ve been noticing in the publishing industry, specifically those in your area of work?

Mengqi: I strongly feel that integrated media is the trend and the inevitable. Books are not only in the physical bookstores or online (such as Amazon, iBooks); they also appear on the FM mobile platforms. For instance, audio books are getting more and more popular in China. You can also find ebooks on airplanes or read on Uber (Uber X Kindle). They say people don’t read, but the demand for contents is increasing. TV shows and movies are hunting for good content. Mobile games are based on books. Digital publishing is no longer just digitalizing print books and creating databases. Publishing is expanding in different industries and you have to be more creative.

What would you tell students who are beginning to look for work in publishing? Were there any pieces of wisdom that you employed to help you in your search?

Mengqi: Keep your eyes on this blog! Networking is vital! I got the position in Open Road because of the Pace blog and the help from Dan (my classmate)! She passed my resume along to my former supervisor. All the opportunities I had at Pace—for example, being the interpreter for 2014 BEA US-China Rights section and other seminars—were from the benefits of networking. It helps you get to know people, make friends, and offers you the chance to see the wonderful world!

How has your education at Pace and elsewhere affected you in your pursuit of a career in publishing? Have you always been interested in publishing?

Mengqi: Making things fascinates me. I liked video making when I was in undergraduate. Coding (Prof. Lian’s class) and desktop publishing skills helped me find jobs in the digital publishing area. My background and experience assisted me in understanding today’s rich media phenomenon. The papers and homework I wrote in Pace Publishing taught me to think deeply. I am not the same as some classmates that liked to read from childhood, but the day I stepped into this program, I knew I would like to develop my future career path in this industry. Working in an office that has books and book-related products is wonderful!

What are some of the biggest challenges that you think publishing is facing now?

Mengqi: I think the impact of the Internet is a big challenge. Internet-based products are rising fast in China. Publishers have to compete with mobile platforms, find solutions to partner with new media, and keep eyes on their regular competitors. Woo, that is really hard.

What advice do you have for students who aren’t sure about where they want to land in publishing?

Mengqi: I would say keep learning and don’t miss any opportunity in this industry. Pace is a great resource. Try an internship first. Even if you don’t like or know the job, at least you have the chance to know the real world. Then, figuring out what you want to do won’t be a problem.

Do you see yourself continuing in your current field long-term?

Mengqi: Yes! I think there are plenty of things I could do and experiment with in this field. Technology is changing fast, but it’s fun! Books could have more functions and no limits to their physical format!

What are some valuable lessons or skills that you’ve learned since starting work full-time?

Mengqi: First, different countries and companies have diverse working environments and policies. Study them first! Second, be creative and always think outside the box. Last but not the least, no pain, no gain. All the efforts you made in the past will benefit you eventually.

What are your thoughts on the current discussion of digital rights?

Mengqi: In China, the legal system of digital rights is not fully operational. Parents worry that devices will harm children’s eyes, so not many publishers acquire digital rights on kids’ titles. The majority of people here like to read on mobile, and they are more intrigued by web articles. However, the rights in this area are still up for discussion. I feel digital rights are not only about eBooks; they are appearing more and more comprehensive. When you look at a book, eBook rights are just a start. You will have to think about video, audio, and other digital-related subsidiary rights. I am looking forward to seeing how this system will be established eventually.

How do you think students ought to approach their brand new careers in publishing?

Mengqi: Networking! Don’t be afraid of talking to people. I was extremely shy because I didn’t have the confidence in speaking English and I was lacking publishing knowledge. Thanks to our kind teachers and classmates, I started by making friends from 551 5th Ave to forcing myself to participate in different events. Finally, I realized people in publishing like to share their opinions and experiences, and they want to know you as well! It is fun!!!

Alumni in the Spotlight

Alumni in the SpotlightRakesh Suresh is a 2012 graduate from the MS in Publishing program. He is currently employed with HCL’s Media Services vertical as an Assistant Manager. Rakesh’s role is to develop and offer focused solutions for media, publishing, and entertainment companies across the globe. His focus and desire is to take the conventional publishing world to the next level.



Professor Denning: What have you been up to since graduating from the program in 2012?

Rakesh: It’s been a great journey. I returned back to India after my graduation with a vision to take India’s publishing service sector to the next level. However, it was a little difficult to convince Indian executives to change and expand their organization’s portfolio (typical example of an innovator’s dilemma). So, I did a little introspective reflection and changed my game plan a bit. I joined Newgen Knowledgeworks as an Operations Manager, where my role was to handle a business worth about $1 million a year. As handling day-to-day operations is not my cup of tea, I had a very brief stint over there. I then joined HCL Technologies as a Presales Consultant where my role is to provide media/publishing related solutions (from both IT and business perspectives) to organizations across the globe.

Professor Denning: How do you think the program helped you towards your career, however unconventional?

Rakesh: This program changed my perspective on publishing altogether. If we limit the term ‘publishing’ to just books and magazines, we are simply missing the bigger picture here. The size of the pie is always greater than what we think! My humble opinion is, publishing isn’t limited to big corporate houses anymore. Publishing defines the dissemination of content, and it can be carried out by anyone in the world. Even a layman, who is publishing his content/views on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or a blog is a publisher today.

On that note, this program helped me to understand industry trends and the impact of the west coast (i.e. technology companies like Facebook, Twitter, Scribd, etc.) on the east coast (i.e. conventional publishing industry).

Rakesh_Suresh (2)Professor Denning: Seeing as you work in the technical end of publishing, what do you think is the up and coming trend in regards to digitization?

Rakesh: There are so many new developments: big data analytics (predictive marketing), semantic publishing, localized content owing to higher internet penetration in developing countries, XHTML or digital-first workflow, affordable CMS, CRM and DRM, customized content in e-learning and magazine industries, dynamic newsstand, technologies enabling content discoverability, value added to services through QR codes, augmented reality, near-field communication (NFC) etc., consolidation of niche products with bigger players e.g. Adobe CQ5, Adobe Experience Manager etc., the dominance of Google and Amazon in terms of advertising/display ads, content aggregation, device and distribution channels.  These are just a few trends that I can think of immediately.

The others, which are hugely discussed in almost all content related conferences, are apps, responsive websites, social media content aggregation and analytics.  I think most of the organizations have to get a better grip on these disruptive technologies.

Professor Denning: When did you discover that this path was the right path for you?

Rakesh: I did my Bachelors of Engineering in printing technology. During my undergraduate years, I felt that print books’ market share was slowly dying and hence I was curious about the role of technology in publishing. At that time, I happened to meet India’s national newspaper editor-in-chief and he advised me to pursue my career in new media, which was nascent and a hot topic seven years back. Hence, my game plan was to know/understand hardcore software development before I ventured myself into the business aspect of publishing.

The Publishing program really helped me understand the intricacies of the publishing business. My internship with Hachette Book Group and the many guest lectures I heard steered me in the right direction and paved the way for my growth.

Professor Denning: What advice do you have for other students who want to stray away from the traditional publishing path?

Rakesh: My input (not advice) to the future achievers/aspirants is not to negate the impact of technology in our daily lives. As I mentioned earlier, publishing isn’t limited to books and magazines. It’s all about content, content, and content. Content is and will be in ‘bits’ going forward! If you can have a strong foundation in technology and business, success is not far away.

The world is in dire need of content experts who not only understand the business but also enable organizations to reach their audiences at the right time and the right place through the right channel.

HCL-TechnologiesProfessor Denning: What did you write your thesis on? And what advice do you have for those about to write their thesis?

Rakesh: My thesis was entitled ‘Searching for the Perfect Methods to Forecast Recurring Demand in Trade and Academic Publishing Supply Chain.’ I think the industry is still in search of a perfect method and, I think it will always be a combination of few methods.

My advice to students: stay focused on what you are passionate about. It is great if you can challenge the status quo. Never hesitate to talk to professors about your topic and objective. In my case, they were so kind and helped me to connect with industry people like Thomas Di Mascio, Linda Bathgate, and Jason Epstein, who not only gave clarity on the topic but also shared valuable industry insights.

Professor Denning: How important is it to network, even on the digital side of publishing?

Rakesh: It helps us to understand:

  • The current reality of the industry, and test the waters before you make a decision about your career
  • Your skill gaps or your areas that need improvement
  • Redefine your game plan/strategies at the right time
  • Envision the future of the industry/business units
  • Understand how the micro-level implementation impacts the macro-level objective
  • Thinking on our own feet – It gives an opportunity to examine our own mental models
  • Learn how to land in a job, if you are interested.

Professor Denning: What kind of skills do you need to enter your line of work?

Rakesh: A blend of IT and business knowledge. Analytical thinking. A love for new technologies and an interest to learn new things around the clock. More importantly, be willing to agree that the known is a little drop, the unknown is an ocean.

Professor Denning: Considering you have a unique view of the industry, what is something important for our students to know about publishing that they may not know otherwise?

Rakesh: Most of the processes are getting automated, and they are challenging and demanding (both in terms of development and usability). Several small software applications created with a well-defined focus can bring a paradigm shift to the organization. For example: subscription and distribution of eBooks, implementation of workflow management software, a seamless editorial management system, etc.—these not only change an organization’s capability matrix but also test employees’ skills and talent.

Every organization is looking out for innovative ways to monetize its content, for which technology is acting as their sole partner. To put it in a nutshell, publishing companies are becoming more of a content service provider backed by technology.

Publishing is evolving into a newer form, which embraces faster, personalized, user-generated content, new ways of digital storytelling and content sharing etc., and seamless integration with all sorts of devices.

Professor Denning: Where do you see the publishing industry headed in the next 5, 10, 15 years?

Rakesh: I wish I could!! It is really difficult to predict the future of the publishing industry over the long term at this juncture. That said, we can be sure of one thing: publishing is going to be more dynamic than ever before.

Technology is playing a key role in defining an organization’s strategy and the rate at which it should grow. Every aspect of publishing like format definition, distribution, editing, production, monetizing the backlist, the role of print and eBooks, etc. is changing faster than we ever dreamt of. It is an optimistic sign, and I personally envision many innovative business models evolving by collaborating with technology companies in the imminent future.

Publishing companies will have their own indigenous product development and R&D team, which will bring out innovative deliverables in conjunction with the latest technologies in real time. For example, recent research indicates that Augmented Reality (AR) apps currently generate $300 million in revenue. These apps could potentially earn $5.2 billion by 2017. In terms of print, it is going to be specialty products that can support smelling, tasting, augment reality, and offer innovative packaging to name a few. To sum it up, the focus would usher in a strategy fueled by technology, innovation, global markets, and strong ties with end users.

Thank you, Rakesh!

Alumni in the Spotlight- July 2013

Dior Vargas is a 26 year old Latina activist who works full time as a Production Manager at Barnes & Noble/NOOK Media. She is a steering committee member of the New York Chapter of National Women’s Liberation. Dior is also a board member at the Third Wave Foundation. In 2012, she organized the first Feminist General Assembly in New York City with Women Occupying Wall Street.  She has interned for The Feminist Press and for Gloria Feldt, former CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  She has a B.A. in the Study of Women and Gender from Smith College and an M.S. in Publishing from Pace University.  Dior is a native New Yorker and currently lives in Brooklyn.


Prof. Denning:  Hi Dior and thank you for agreeing to do this interview.  It has been two years since you graduated from the MS in Publishing program in 2011.  Can you tell us a bit about what you have been doing and how your career has developed since then?

Dior:  It’s been quite busy since I graduated from Pace. I was already working at Random House at the time but only as a temp. Later that year (2011) I was offered a full time job as a eBook Production Assistant Manager. I gladly accepted and worked on many interesting books such as American Grown by Michelle Obama and Beyond Outrage by Robert R. Reich.

Then in March 2013, I started a new position as a Production Manager of International Digital Operations at Barnes & Noble/NOOK Media. It has been extremely busy and intense since I started working here but it’s great and I have learned so much in a short amount of time!

Other than my career in publishing, I have been strengthening my activist work. I became a board member of an amazing organization and became more involved in my passion which is feminism.

Prof. Denning:  As a Production Manager for International Digital Operations at Barnes & Noble, what does your job entail?  How do you interact with the other members of this international bookselling company? 

Dior: I work with the Nook Digital Newsstand so I work with publishers around the globe so we can get their magazines and newspapers on the Nook platform. Then I manage production of those publications. I talk with publishers over the phone and through email. It gets a bit challenging at times but overall it’s a great learning experience.

Prof Denning:  What are some of your favorite parts of your job? 

Dior: My favorite parts are learning about the culture of the publishers that I work with. Also seeing the similarities and differences between U.S. and foreign publications.

Prof Denning: Tell us a bit about new technical developments and initiatives that Barnes & Noble has taken in recent years?  Will they be implementing anything new? 

Dior: From my work in the NOOK newsstand, I can say that Barnes & Noble has really paved the way for reading digital magazines and newspapers. You get the magazines before it even goes on sale in print. We also have catalogues where you can shop directly from them. It’s a great interactive experience. In addition, we are growing our international newsstand where you can get magazines and newspapers from around the world.

Prof Denning:  During your time at Random House, you worked as an eBook Production Assistant Manager.  What was the transition into the arena of international digital operations like after spending time in eBook productions?

Dior: Going from books which I focused on during my years at Pace to magazines which I didn’t have a background on was a bit daunting. I don’t look at magazines and newspapers the same way I did before. Once you’re finished on production for a book there are not many times where you have to go back and continue work on the book. With magazines and newspapers it is an ongoing process that involves daily involvement.  Also, working with publishers from multiple countries is challenging but extremely rewarding.

Prof. Denning:  What advice would you give to a young publishing professional looking for their first “real” job?

Dior: I would tell them to learn as much as they can and make connections with people in the business. My position now is based not only on hard work but on the people I met along the way. Also, you need to be passionate. This goes for any industry. If you have passion and drive for what you do then that’s about 50% of the work!

Prof. Denning: Please tell me a bit about how your educational experience at Pace prepared you for your publishing career.

Dior: There were many times when people would mention terms like wholesale model versus agency model and I knew exactly what they were talking about. It gave me the confidence and the knowledge to perform better at my jobs. I think having an educational background in this industry helps no matter what people might say otherwise. It gives you an edge and it sets you apart from other candidates. It shows how invested you are in this industry.

Prof. Denning:  What advice would you give to students who still have to write their graduate thesis papers?  What were the most important points you learned from your own thesis, titled “The Feminist Press, 1970-Present: Telling a Different Story?”

Dior: I would tell them to seriously think about what they would enjoy writing about. It’s a long arduous process so you might as well have fun while working on it! The important points that I learned from my own thesis was that no matter what publishing is still alive and running. It might take different turns but people are still interested in reading and learning more. It might be a different format but it’s still the same business: ensuring that your customers have something to read and immerse themselves in. Publishing is a daily part of people’s lives. The industry will adapt to what it needs to so it can keep on going.

Prof. Denning:  What advice would you give students entering the field do to set themselves apart from other job applicants?  What specific details should they include on their resumes or in an interview?

Dior: I think students entering the field should be open to the changing landscape of publishing. They should show that they are adapting to the changes and that being part of digital is something that they’re not afraid of. Having knowledge in Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and other programs that work with HTML, XML is extremely valuable and important.

Prof. Denning:  Have you always been interested publishing and digital media?  Where did that passion come from?

Dior: I wasn’t always interested in the publishing business. I loved writing and reading but in terms of the business aspect I didn’t spend too much time on it. Then I became an editorial intern for Meridians, an interdisciplinary journal at Smith College about race, feminism, and transnationalism. That was what changed things for me. I learned more about what was involved when publishing a journal and I knew that I wanted to know more about it. I wanted to be part of what educates people, what gives people a break from their day to day lives, and what makes people rethink the world they live in.

Prof. Denning:  You have held many different internship positions, including a Social Media internship at Endangered Bodies, a PR, Marketing and Social Media internship at Gloria Feldt, and an Editorial and Developmental internship at the Feminist Press.  What have you learned from these positions and what advice would you give to students looking for or currently in internships?

Dior: I have learned so much from my past internships. I was able to work and develop skills on things that I knew would help me in the long run. These internships have given me connections that I am certain will last me for a lifetime. I’ve learned that content is important but also how you present it is important as well. You need to be able to market your brand, product, whatever it is that you’re selling. I’ve learned about helpful programs and tips to make the work of social media a lot easier. You have to put yourself in the mindset of the consumer. What would garner their attention? I think you have to keep that in mind when you’re in media in general. I think that students should definitely take advantage of internships to develop their skills and try out things that they otherwise wouldn’t. It can lead to many open doors and something that you didn’t think you’d love. Find a mentor within these internships. I’ve gained so much from mine. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are people out there who are willing to help you navigate your career.

Prof Denning:  What do you think the future holds for companies like Barnes & Noble, and their competitors? What should graduates expect as they enter digital media and the publishing world?

Dior: I think that content is the most important part about publishing. It doesn’t matter what format it’s in. There will always be a demand for things to read. Digital media is challenging but very rewarding so don’t worry. Just make sure you’re on your toes for the next big development!

Prof: Denning:  What do you think the biggest trends in magazine publishing are today?  What are the biggest challenges that publishers face?

Dior: I think that publishers have to remember that reading is no longer a static experience. It needs to be interactive. Having an app that connected to the publication gives more value and leverages its importance and worth.

Prof. Denning:  Any other advice you would like to offer up to our students and to those looking to survive and thrive in this industry?

Dior: Just hang in there. You might think that things are hard in this industry but with the passion and investment in your education it will work out in the end.


Thank you Dior for your insightful and informative interview!

Alumni in the Spotlight: June 2013

Alum_Spotlight3Don Schmidt graduated from Pace University’s MS in Publishing program in 2012 and currently works as the Publishing Industry Pundit and Blogger at The Book Kahuna where he writes about various facets of publishing, from electronic and digital developments to the traditional, print format. Schmidt was previously the Manager of Production and Manufacturing at ABC-CLIO for over 8 years, a history reference publisher that specializes in school educational materials.  Other companies he has worked for include Skootersdad Publishing Services, Interweave Press, Perseus Books Group, Random House, Thieme Medical, McGraw-Hill, Van Nostrand-Reinhold, Springer-Verlag, Gordon & Breach, Inc., and Macmillan Publishing, Inc.   Schmidt has also guest lectured on the topic of publishing at the Denver Publishing Institute at University of Denver, PubWest Conferences in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe.


Prof. Denning:  Hi Don and thank you for agreeing to do this interview.   It has a year since you graduated from the MS in Publishing program.  Can you tell us a bit about what you have been doing and how your career has developed since then?

Don: Hi Professor Denning.  Thank you for asking me to be part of the Alumni in a Spotlight series.  I haven’t been an alumnus very long, but let me see if I can fill you in on what has been happening since May of 2012.

I started the blog while I was still working on my degree at Pace.  First, I thought about using my own name, but that seemed to be something that would not make a great brand.  I just happened to see something while I was surfing the web on a book called “Kahuna”.  Lightning struck, and I thought The Book Kahuna!  A great play on words, and something that sticks with you after you have had a time to reflect.  In November, I started to blog on a regular basis.  I also started to expand my LinkedIn connections and joined a multitude of publishing related groups.  I knew this would be a great way to start discussions and get traffic flowing to my blog-site.

In February, 2013, I was laid off from my position at ABC-CLIO after almost 9 years as Production Manager.  I thought about sugar-coating this part for the write-up, but this is publishing, and I don’t want to give any of my MS in Publishing classmates and fellow alums a false sense of security.  Click here to read a post from The Book Kahuna blog.

Also, it could not have come at a better time.  I was ready for a change, and my degree work at Pace had prepared me for the demands of working with all types of Social Media to get my word out.  I’m blogging, networking, and building the next phase of my career which will be something that I structure on my terms.  I would also love to teach now that I have my degree in my career field.  My lecture at Denver University whetted my appetite for that aspect of career change as well.  Consulting gigs would be welcomed enthusiastically though…

Prof. Denning:  What does your job as the Publishing Industry Pundit and Blogger at The Book Kahuna entail?  What made you want to create this blog?

Don:   I am a fervent devotee of Brendon Burchard and Robert Skrob.  The way to enhance publishing is by marketing information to all of the people who need to be in the know.  The blog is a sales portal to the next phase of The Book Kahuna as a corporate structure.  I have the rights to the domain, and I am launching products that will help to fill information voids that currently exist in the mainstream publishing environment.  The WordPress blog will eventually cease, and all updates and future blog-posts will go through the .com site.

There will be subscription levels to be part of the information network, and the information will be disseminated as webinars, podcasts, videos, workbooks and DVD sets.  There will be coaching and consulting in groups and one-on-one sessions as well.  We’ve used Camtasia software and combined the MP3 recording that I made of my lecture at the Denver Publishing Institute, with the animated Powerpoint presentation that was the basis for the entire lecture.  This is one of the first products that will be available through the sales portal.  I’ve recently re-edited and self-published my Pace Master’s Thesis as an e-book available for Kindle download and this will be another product on the portal sometime in the future.  Click here to read Schmidt’s Electronic/Digital Revolution in Book Publishing!

As part of this process I have rejoined CIPA (Colorado Independent Publishers Association) because many of the ideas in the products are potentially relevant for self-publishers as well.  I was elected to the Board of Directors of CIPA in early May, 2013, and this position along with my Board of Directors position with PubWest will give me ample opportunities to craft products that will fill information niches within the industry as a whole.

Prof Denning:  What are some of your favorite parts of being the “blog world,” as this area has become increasingly important in publishing?

Don:  I use my blogging as a way to get visibility.  I took a good many creative writing courses when I was an undergrad at SUNY Potsdam, and I have never forgotten my love for writing.  There is always an edge and humor in my blogging.  I try to integrate YouTube music videos and commercials for entertainment, but also because they connect with the story I have told or written about in the previous paragraphs.  Also, the camaraderie in the blog world is great.  I have been asked to guest blog for one of my fellow CIPA members, and I have a request for Michael Weinstein, the Production Director for Teachers College Press and a Pace MS in Publishing Advisory Board member, to do a guest blog post on my blog at some time in the future.  Graciously, Michael has agreed and I am looking forward to working out the details with him!

Writing and blogging are forms of artwork.  Instead of brush and canvas, the blogger is painting pictures to drive emotions with words, sentences and paragraphs.  All of my posts have a connection to books, but not all of my posts are about the book industry.  Two of the posts I am most proud of have to do with a book that I worked on when I was at Perseus Books Group (Darnton: Divided We Stand), and the other is a Memorial Day tribute to my father that I wrote last week:



Prof Denning:  Tell us a bit about your position as Manager of Production and Manufacturing at ABC-CLIO? Did you notice that this reference publisher was taking any steps into the digital area of publishing?

Don:   I joined ABC-CLIO in 2004 as Production Manager.  Over the course of the next 8 + years, I took a Production/Manufacturing department that would regularly slip pub dates by 120 days and turned it into a department that met publication goals on time and at or under budget, with the quality being a major consideration at all times.  In 2008, ABC-CLIO purchased the licensing rights to publish Greenwood/Praeger/Libraries Unlimited and with a further acquisition, Linworth Press books.  We went from a publisher that produced sixty to seventy titles a year in 2008, to one that produced 542 titles in 2009.

I was tasked with making this integration work successfully.  We had to switch from a domestic-based freelance model for our production functions, to an offshore “Total Concept” model.  We did this with very aggressive negotiations for our prepress and printing costs.  Over the course of the next 3 years, my department continually met or surpassed the goals that were set in terms of on-time publication, simultaneous print and e-book publication, and continued negotiations to keep costs within a framework that was beneficial to the corporate structure and fair to our vendors overall.

From 2005-2011, I spearheaded a team that produced the largest single project in the history of ABC-CLIO, The World History Encyclopedia.  This title had been in development for 8 years and travelled through the production process in waves.  This set comprised 21 volumes, 4000 articles, and four million words.  It published in March, 2011 as a print title and simultaneously as an e-product.  We pulled this set together without the aid of a database to structure all the articles through the process as they were finalized, only Excel spreadsheets were used (a database would have been oh so nice for this project!).  As the old commercial said, “We did things the “Old Fashion” way, we earned it.”

In terms of e-books and digital, even before the Greenwood integration, ABC-CLIO was producing an e-book of every print book published.  Once we integrated and went with the offshore model, we were having our vendors layout the books using HTML based design programs and this made the conversion process much more streamlined.  At the end of 2010 our e-books became simultaneous publications with our print titles.  By 2011, the e-books were hitting our sales portal weeks before the print publications would hit the warehouse.  Also, in 2010-11, we were one of 5% of publishers that had close to 50% of titles, backlist and frontlist, in the Amazon portal for Kindle download.

We also had 20-40K titles set up for POD, and we were continually getting backlist titles into the program at many of the different POD distributors we were using.

The Production/Manufacturing team accomplished all of this under my tutelage, but unfortunately, I had no input on the content we produced or how that content was to be sold or distributed.  Thus the change in work venues… it’s a story told many times in this industry, and will be told many times in the future as well.  To quote the phrase, “it’s not personal; it’s just the publishing business.”

Prof. Denning:  How does new technology and social media impacted your view of the publishing industry and what do you think will develop from its growing presence?

Don:   In terms of what I see in the industry today, publishers need to adapt or die.  If you are not pushing the envelopeDSchmidt of Social Media to get the word out about your products (blogging, Tweeting, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube) you are not utilizing the tools that could be putting dollars into the company coffers.  I also see Social Media as a two-way street.  If you are not getting feedback from your customers and utilizing that feedback into workable process and content changes, then you are also heading in the same direction that the Brontosaurus trekked many millennia ago.  I have always been someone who thinks that technology is our friend.  It can also come back to bite you if you do not infuse enough capital expenditures to maintain a viable presence on the playing field.

Self-publishing is going to be big, since now anyone can write a book and have it published as an e-book for very little out-of-pocket costs.  Also, a self-publisher can get a print version into the marketplace by working with a Lightning Source or any POD company that can deliver product overnight.  Where the rubber meets the road is the ability to Market the book into the mainstream, and that is where traditional publishing houses have the inside track.

Prof. Denning:  Were you always interested in publishing or did you initially see yourself working in a different industry?

Don:  Sorry to disappoint on this question, but I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I still don’t!  I love publishing, and cannot see myself in any other industry.  I followed in the footsteps of many people who “fell into” publishing as the accidental career.  My cousin once told me, “hey, isn’t it great that you followed in your dad’s footsteps and went into the media?”  Now, my dad was a film editor for NBC in Rockefeller Center for 30 years, but this question was posed to me six years into my publishing career.  I never gave it a thought until that time, but maybe my DNA was programmed to be in publishing, and I just never had a conscious knowledge of it.

Prof Denning:  Many students are unsure of which area of publishing they would like to begin careers in. What made you choose the production side of publishing when you first began working in this industry?

Don:  In a word, LUNCHES.  While working at the Macmillan College Division in the mid-1980s, I was the editorial assistant who prepared reprint corrections for our manufacturing team, and also handled paying the permissions fees for copyrighted material used in the works we were producing.  One day I noticed that one of the print salesmen was in the office.  Later that day I noticed that all the people in manufacturing were nowhere to be found.  It was at this time that Vendor Lunches held a strange fascination f or this entry level newbie to the publishing industry.

Now, I know lunches are no way to plan and structure your career, but in this case, it put me on the path that I was extremely successful following.  I switched over to Production/Manufacturing, and after many, many lunches, I know this was the correct way for me to go.  All kidding aside, once I made the transition I was able to utilize many talents that production/manufacturing people must have to be successful.  Strong organizational skills, negotiation skills, ability to prioritize, affinity for new technology, troubleshooting, the ability to keep one’s head while all around you are losing theirs and flexibility in thoughts and actions are paramount requirements in the production/manufacturing role.  My advice to my Pace brethren, choose your path, no matter how you get to it, but do it with everything you have.  Pour your heart and soul into it, because as Thomas Edison said, “Genius is 1% Inspiration, and 99% Perspiration!” Success can be substituted for genius in the preceding quote.

Prof. Denning:  Please tell me a bit about how your educational experience at Pace—in particular, why did you go back to get your degree after working in the industry?  What did you see as the benefits of getting an advanced degree in publishing?

Don:   I started taking courses back in the early 1990s.  I took a few courses at NYU, but never followed through to get my publishing certificate.  In looking at the book publishing industry in 2008 and 2009, I noticed that the contraction of companies and mergers were diminishing the number of possible avenues for career opportunity and advancement.  After working close to 30 years in the publishing industry, I speculated that even a veteran needs to take actions to set themselves apart.  Also, I wanted to challenge myself and see how I would do academically in this environment, while handling a full-time workload that was a handful on its own.  At this point, I would like to say that my classmates and my professors were top-notch and pushed me to the limit at all times.  Professors David Hetherington, Dave Delano, Melissa Rosati, Kathy Sandler, Manuela Soares, Jodylynn Bachiman, Veronica Wilson, and Elena Mauer were all experts who tested and challenged me throughout the process and I thank them all.  I would recommend this experience for anyone who wants to get a first look at publishing, or a grizzled veteran like myself who needed an upgrade of skills to stay competitive in this ever-changing business.

Prof. Denning:  You completed your degree completely online.  Can you tell us a bit about that experience?

Don:  Using technology to learn about new technology, that’s how I like to view my online experience.  There was one project that completely encapsulates this viewpoint.  In “Modern Tech” with Professor Jodylynn Bachiman, the complete class was tasked with working together as a team to put together our final project.  We had to build an archive for the fictitious French Institute of Technology that incorporated sharing of content materials between three separate campus complexes (Denver, Montreal and Washington, D.C.).  I was co-project manager with classmate Daye Brake being the other project manager.  Now Daye lives in Florida, and I live in Colorado, and the rest of the team lived in all geographic regions of the US.  We scheduled Skype meetings, taking into account various time zone differences, with the various functionaries of the team, and had weekly updates and teleconference meetings to make sure that the project stayed on schedule to final completion.  This is all relative to how a modern publishing operation works.  Our completed project was a self-narrated PowerPoint presentation that resides in the cloud to this day.  Click here to view the project.

I hope all my classmates will forgive me for plugging this project, but what we accomplished in six weeks is still amazing to me (my voice is the first voice you hear in the presentation).  Madame Dubois (Professor Bachiman) liked our approach to finalizing this project, and our grades reflected a successful team effort.

One drawback, I have never met any of my professors, except Dave Delano who was my print rep for RR Donnelley when I was working for Random House in NY.  It would be great if there could be a reception before graduation day for online students in the MS in Publishing Program and professors to meet and introduce themselves.

Prof. Denning:  What advice would you give to students who still have to write their graduate thesis papers?  What were the most important points you learned from your own thesis, titled “Print Books:  Surviving and Thriving During the Electronic Revolution?”

Don:  Choose a topic that interests you and research, research, research.  Did I mention you need to do research?  I wanted to take the e-book revolution and see avenues that would lead to what we are currently seeing.  The sale of e-books is slowing down.  At the PubWest Conference in Keystone last October, Len Vlahos of BISG (Book Industry Study Group) showed that e-book sales industry-wide had hit a plateau and had leveled out from their meteoric rise in previous years.  He could not explain exactly whether this was a blip in the history of e-books and they would begin to climb steadily from this point, whether this was a seasonal drop off, or if this was a trend that would continue into the immediate future and possibly beyond.

My paper dealt with format deliverables being dictated by the consumer.  All formats should be available for purchase, so that the consumer will decide the final outcome.  With the advent of new technologies in printing, short-run, high-quality, cost effective books can now be quickly printed, bound and shipped faster than ever before.  I think the sale of tablets outpacing the sale of dedicated e-readers is a further harbinger that e-books will be another format that produces sales, but is not going to be replacing print as the dominant format for consumers to the massive degrees that were projected 1 and 2 years ago.

Prof. Denning:  Guest lecturers are an important part of many of our courses in the Publishing program. Can you share with us some of the topics of your lectures at the Denver Publishing Institute at University of Denver and PubWest Conferences?

Don:   I did some homework and noticed that the DPI (Denver Publishing Institute) did not have a dedicated Production/Manufacturing professional giving the overview on this very important area of product delivery.  I am all about giving back, so I pitched myself to Joyce Meskis, Jill Smith and Amy Hall, the executives running the DPI Summer Session.  I must have done a great job convincing them as I ended up giving a one hour and fifteen minute Powerpoint presentation on DAM and CMS systems to get manuscript through the process to bound book.  I mapped the process from start to finish.  I had schematics showing that the format delivery at the end was only dependent on the conversion process, and since we started with an HTML layout program, we could funnel the project into any format we wanted in a relatively easy and time-effective process.  I then did a comparison of a domestic based freelance system, in comparison to a “Total Concept” offshore process that we morphed into under my supervision at CLIO.

Prof: Denning:  What do you think are the biggest trends in book and eBook publishing today?  What are the biggest challenges that publishers face?

Don:   I just wrote a blog piece on a subject that is controversial in nature, but seems to be occurring as publishers try to save dollars and cut costs.  The experienced elder statesmen, who previously were the mentors for the new generations of publishing professionals, are being weeded out since their salary levels (and healthcare costs) are much higher than someone 25-35 years old.  I think this brain-drain will have repercussions throughout the publishing industry if the trend does not abate.  Companies need to balance future cost considerations based on not having the experience levels necessary to drive a publishing program to higher profits.  Many sales people at printers and prepress houses have confided that they are spending more and more time teaching aspects of the publishing process to their client’s staffs.  This does not bode well for a healthy handoff of responsibilities going forward.

As the Nook fades into an App that Microsoft updates, I see Barnes & Noble staying around as the national bookstore that most of us use for print reading, but as Oren Teicher confided to me when I interviewed the CEO of the American Booksellers Association in 2011, independent book stores are filling a niche within their communities and will not give ground to any national company or entity.  Stores like The Tattered Cover here in Denver and The King’s English in Salt Lake City will be the beacons for community centered bookstores going forward into the future.  Independent bookstores saw an increase in sales of 12% in 2012.

Tablets will continue their assault on the dedicated e-readers, with the latter falling farther and farther behind in sales.  This increase in tablets in the marketplace will have consumers splitting their attention from e-books to everything else you can do with a tablet (I have the MLB package on my iPad and watched the Yankee/Red Sox game tonight!)  The trend in declining e-book sales will continue, but since print books are a format that is more of an impulse purchase while browsing at a Barnes & Noble or an independent bookstore, print book sales will remain at a plateau of sales for the foreseeable future.  Print on demand will be a viable alternative to e-books, and inkjet printing will begin to reduce the cost of larger printruns once companies have paid off the capital expenditures to install these new, high-quality printers.  As long as the warehousing costs can be kept at a very low level, the savings incorporated into a publishing program by using POD, inkjet, and web-press technology may well mean a modest resurgence in revenue streams from print products.  E-books will be part of the overall symbiotic marketing strategy that draws revenue from all format types.

Prof. Denning:  Any other advice you would like to offer up to our students and to those looking to survive and thrive in this industry?

Don:   The first thing I would tell my Pace brethren:

  1.  Be prepared for the unexpected.  Technology and the industry itself are changing what we do and how we do it, but embrace the change and go along for the ride.

And then these come to mind as well:

  1. It’s part of the process, but getting laid-off happens in this industry.  Don’t be afraid when and if it happens.  Being in this program puts you in an entirely different realm and gives you a leg up on those who are in this business without the academic credentials.
  2. Seek out mentors.  The experience that they can impart will supplement everything you have learned from your professors at Pace.
  3. Have Fun.  Sometimes this business gets very close and stifling, but it is a fun endeavor and there are many incredible people out there in publishing-land.
  4. Do not be afraid to raise a dissenting voice at times.  As I always say, people who follow the herd only end up cleaning their shoes.
  5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and fail.  It isn’t called WD-40 because it worked the first time!  We learn from our mistakes, and they leave lasting and indelible stories for the future.  Use your stories to teach the next generations coming into this industry.


 Thank you Don for your insightful and informative interview!