Report from the Trenches: Publisher Jason Epstein

Jason Epstein has led one of the most creative careers in book publishing of the past half century. In 1952, while a young editor at Doubleday, he created Anchor Books, which launched the so-called ‘paperback revolution’ and established the trade paperback format. In the following decade he became cofounder of The New York Review of Books. In the 1980s he created the Library of America, the prestigious publisher of American classics, and The Reader’s Catalog, the precursor of online bookselling. For many years, Jason Epstein was editorial director of Random House. He was the first recipient of the National Book Award for Distinguished Service to American Letters and was given the Curtis ‘inventing new kinds of publishing and editing.’ He has edited many well-known novelists, including Norman Mailer, Vladimir Nabokov, E. L. Doctorow, Philip Roth, and Gore Vidal, as well as many important writers of nonfiction.

 

In the piece below, Tqwana Brown, a student in Prof. Soares’ Entrepeneurship Class this spring, blogs about the guest lecture that Mr. Epstein, who is also on the Advisory Board for the MS in Publishing program, gave last week.  

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With such a long and storied career in publishing, Jason Epstein has probably seen it all – or helped usher it in. So, what does the father of the Paperback Revolution think of massive changes taking place today in the industry? He calls in the “Post-Gutenberg Era”, helped along by the phenomenal success of Fifty Shades of Grey. While the books themselves may polarize readers, Mr. Epstein says they revolutionized publishing, in that E.L. James didn’t need a Big 6 publisher. Random House came along after she and her books were already established hits.

And while some conventions and mainstays of publishing may become extinct, books according to Mr. Epstein will always have an audience – even the ink and paper versions. Speaking to a class of would-be entrepreneurs, he presented a cautiously optimistic view of what’s to come in publishing.

What does he think of all the low-quality self-published stuff out there? “It’ll work itself out”, vanishing on its own, based on reader preferences.

The Amazon/DOJ agency vs. wholesale pricing model issues? That too will work itself out. He theorizes it as Amazon’s way of forcing traditional publishers into this new Era.

And what of editors, copyeditors, publicists, etc.? Those positions, he believes, will always be needed. Just in different capacities. More freelance opportunities, perhaps. Or ventures reaching out to these indie authors.  Agents too would change, becoming business managers and brand builders.

But, what does he see not surviving this digital revolution? Warehouses. With the infinite and malleable options offered by electronic space, physical warehouses – and large quantities of print books – can’t compete.

Territorial and translations rights also could no longer exist in their current states. This is something he suggests we, as newbies to publishing, should be looking into and developing. With the immediate and instant availability of digital material, Mr. Epstein sees a need for universal rights and simultaneous translations. Cooperation that he sees as a major difficulty in an industry that doesn’t want to, but has to change.

So, while some opportunities will go the way of Borders, Jason Epstein believes that there are so many still out there waiting for up and coming professionals to seize and capitalize on. After all, he didn’t invent paperbacks, just recognized a need for them and took advantage of the occasion at the right time.  And he hasn’t stopped, just find the nearest Espresso Book Machine.

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Tqwana Brown is in her second semester in the MS in Publishing program.   A former high school English teacher, Tqwana is shifting gears to the publishing career track.   She is interested in working on in the editorial side of book publishing or as a Literary Agent.

Part-Time Job Opportunity!

Persea Books, Inc. is a small, independent publishing house, established in New York in 1975. They are looking for a part-time employee to assist in office bookkeeping. Responsibilities include: royalties, promotional work, and assisting in the creation and maintenance of ebooks and Print-on-Demand titles. The position is for seven hours a week, $12.00 an hour. For more information, please visit their website: http://www.perseabooks.com/.

If you are interested in this job position, please send your resume and cover letter to Loie Merritt at publicity@perseabooks.com. Please copy (CC) Professor Soares at msoares@pace.edu.

Attend Book Expo America 2012!

Book Expo America is one of the premier publishing conferences in the world. This year, Pace continues its tradition of providing a limited number of BEA admission tickets for MS in Publishing students! This is an amazing opportunity to visit one of the most important publishing conferences of the year, for free!

The dates for BEA 2012 are Monday, June 4th through Thursday, June 7th, and it takes place at the Javits Center. Check out the BEA website for information on the exhibits and special events happening each day. If you are interested in using one of the free student tickets to this event, please contact Hannah Bennett at puboffice@pace.edu. She will then send a form asking for your contact information and preferred dates and times.

Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to spend a few hours with some of the most prestigious publishing professionals in NYC!

Report from the Trenches: A Visit to Publishers Weekly

The door to the offices of Publishers Weekly is unassuming, so much so that you could almost miss it.  However, as members of Professor Soares’ General Interest Books class discovered last Thursday, the office itself is a book lover’s haven.  When Professor Soares offered the chance to see the inner workings of the PW offices, several of us jumped at the chance, and were well rewarded for taking the bus ride down to 23rd street.

When we entered the office, we were instantly met by Publisher and Vice President, Cevin Bryerman.  The welcome was warm, and they provided us with a selection of snacks and past PW issues.  Cevin Bryerman and the PW Owner, George Slowik Jr., then introduced us to the bible of the publishing industry.  They gave us an overview of the long history of PW and the brand name that they represent.  PW strives to provide members of the publishing industry with current news and reviews on over 8,000 books per year. 

As well as offering us a grand introduction to the company, both men provided us with valuable advice.  Their main point – do what you love.  They encouraged us to intern and explore our options while we are still students, and reminded us that you never know where you’ll end up.  Full of advice, cheese, and crackers, we then explored the office that was anything but unassuming.

The office was warm, friendly, and smaller than we expected.  With a full-time staff of about 20 people, the office’s main inhabitants were shelves and shelves of books.  The atmosphere was casual, but the work ethic was not.  Despite their busy schedules and pressing deadlines, each member of the staff took the time to share a few words with us.

By the end of our visit, we all wanted to work at PW.  For a publication that is so essential to the publishing industry, so friendly and inviting, and so current and forward-thinking, who wouldn’t want to work there?

– Hannah Bennett and Natanya Housman

Manuela Soares

Manuela Soares

Manuela Soares is a full-time faculty member, Associate Director of the Pace University Press, and Director of the Graduate Seminar (2004-present) in the MS in Publishing Program. Prior to teaching, Soares had a 30-year career in the publishing industry, working in both books and magazines. Most recently, she was Managing Editor for the Scholastic Trade Book division (overseeing eight hardcover imprints and the publication of the first five Harry Potter books). Before that, she was a Senior Editor at Rizzoli International.

As the Director of the Graduate Seminar (690A and B), Soares works with students writing their Master’s thesis. She also teaches Marketing, Children’s Book Publishing, General Interest Books, Entrepreneurship, and Ethics in Publishing.

In addition to her teaching duties, in 2015 Soares became Associate Director of the Pace University Press. As Associate Director, she reviews new submissions and oversees the day-to-day activities of the Press from manuscript to bound book, supervising two Graduate Assistants and a Student Aide and working with the journal editors and production editors.

She is a member of the Editorial Board of Springer-Verlag’s Publishing Research Quarterly, where some of the Graduate Theses papers from 690B have been published in abbreviated form.

Her own published works encompass magazines, journals, and books including: The Joy Within with Joan Goldstein (Simon & Schuster), One Hand Clapping with Rafe Martin (Rizzoli), Butch/Femme (Crown Publishing), Scholastic Bookfiles: A Reading Guide to A Wrinkle in Time, Heart Throbs: The Best of DC Romance Comics (pseudonym Naomi Scott, Fireside Books), ESP McGee and the Dolphin’s Message (pseudonym Jesse Rodgers, Avon Books), “The Purloined Ladder” (Journal of Homosexuality, V.34, Issue 3-4), among others. In 2011, she contributed a short short story to the anthology Sudden Flash Youth, (Persea Books). In 2013, she wrote a cookbook with artist Jeanne Betancourt, Farm Stand Fresh. In 2017, one of her short stories will be included in an anthology from Tagus Press.

An avid photographer, her photographs are in private collections and have been used for the covers of three books of poetry, various blogs, and included in several exhibitions.

Resume Writing Workshop

When: Wednesday, April 21st
Where: 551 Fifth Avenue, Room 805B
Time: 4:00 to 6:00pm

This session is open to all MS in Publishing students (including online only). This is a great opportunity to get expert advice on crafting your resume and writing effective cover letters.

Jenna Campolita, the Assistant Director of Coop and Career Services at Pace, will be sharing her expertise and advice on making your resume and cover letter as professional as they can be.

Professor Denning and Professor Soares will also be working with participants to provide individual feedback.

Space is limited, so if you are interested in participating, you must RSVP, and attach a copy of your resume and a sample cover letter, by April 12th to the puboffice@pace.edu.

Be sure to include the cover letter and resume in one document, using your name and the word resume as the document title, as in “Smith resume.”