Spring 2013 David Pecker Lecture by Arthur A. Levine

Inspiration from Arthur A. Levine

By Professor Manuela Soares


Children’s Book editor and publisher Arthur Levine shared insights about his life and career at the 2nd David Pecker Lecture on April 10th at the Midtown Executive Club.


With charm, enthusiasm, and wit Arthur revealed his professional journey  — from looking for his first job in publishing to being offered his own imprint at Scholastic years later.


Arthur wanted this lecture to be less formal and so he chose to talk about his successes and failures. It seemed like a strange topic, he said, but it was important to look closely at the decisions that led to those successes and failures.  It was important to be able to say,  “Yes, I made mistakes and I’m still here.  You’ll all make mistakes …. Some big, some small – and you’ll be OK, too.” 


Being committed to what he wanted to do was very important, especially in those early years. Having graduated from college and taken a publishing course, Arthur was told that he would never find a job in children’s publishing. Despite that, he persevered, which led to this advice to students: “Hold out for the job making books you really care about.”


Arthur offered many inspiring life lessons, from those early days of job hunting to learning from some of the legendary editors in children’s book publishing. Having been mentored in his own career and having sought out mentorship  – he has always hired and mentored young talent. 


In talking about mentoring, Arthur stressed that students must be active in their own careers – making connections to people, finding a mentor.  Taking chances helped him in his own career.  Too much caution, he said, is short-sighted.  And he gave examples of books that he didn’t pursue, didn’t fight hard enough for – that went on to become very successful.  Overcoming opposition to your decisions is important, he said. But also knowing when to fight was important, too.

Editors have the power to say no to a project, but acquiring it involves getting support from your colleagues in marketing and sales. There is no such thing as real power, only influence. Deciding when and how to use it were key elements.


Arthur made a point of saying that in today’s world, editorial must listen to the business side, but not at the expense of editorial clarity and vision. It’s not business versus editorial, but business and editorial together.


Harry Potter was an important acquisition in Arthur’s career, but it’s important to  remember that his career is full of  a great many award-winning and notable acquisitions and projects: Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, Rafe Martin and David Shannon’s The Rough-Face Girl, Jerry Spinelli’s Crash, Barbara Bottner’s Bootsie Barker Bites, Gary Soto’s Chato’s Kitchen, Tomie dePaola’s Tomie dePaola’s Book of Poems, and two Caldecott winners, Peggy Rathmann’s Officer Buckle and Gloria, and Emily McCully’s Mirette on the High Wire, along with many other awards and honors.  Arthur is also a writer himself  —  the author of seven picture books: All the Lights in the Night, Bono and Nonno, The Boardwalk Princess, Monday Is One Day, Pearl Moscowitz’s Last Stand, Sheep Dreams and The Boy Who Drew Cats.


Arthur revealed his passion for his work, but made a point of the importance of leading a life rich with family, friends and other interests – being captain of his tennis team, belonging to a synagogue. This richness in his life has a positive effect on his work and keeps him from getting burned out or too self-reverential.


Arthur’s talk was funny, informative, insightful, and at times, poignant, but I have to admit, I missed him singing, as he did in the first lecture.


It was a wonderful talk from a talented, generous, and insightful industry professional. Our gain is Refrigeration Weekly’s loss.


Mr. David Pecker developed the David Pecker Distinguished Visiting Professor Lectures to foster publishing education and the Pace University MS in Publishing program.

Faculty in the Spotlight

Faculty in the Spotlight: Prof. Paul Levitz


Seemed like a good idea—start the new class on Transmedia and the Future of Publishing with eight dirty words.  Okay, it’s one more than it took George Carlin, but there’s been some inflation since 1972, hasn’t there?


It’s educational; unlike Carlin’s selection, these are words that at least some of the students don’t have in their vocabulary.  It’s on point to the theme of the course; these are words that describe the changes that are wracking publishing and will play a role in its future.  And like any effective use of a dirty word or two, it rachets up the stakes of the conversation.


Eight dirty words:


Decentralization, Distintermediation, Fragmentation, Branding, Curation,

Gatekeepers, Transmedia and Transcreation.


The underlying lesson is that students working on their M.S. in Publishing in this fine twenty-first century need to think about their fundamental skills more than the fixed form which is the end product containing their work.  Skills like discovering, nurturing and shaping the work of creative people; managing the process by which work is created and made accessible to an audience; motivating and connecting an audience; and ultimately doing it all within financial disciplines that enable it to be done for the benefit of all concerned.  These skills will survive and thrive, even if the jobs they’re performed in won’t necessarily be labeled editor, production manager, publicist, or accountant (okay, odds are the accountant label will continue long after all the others, I concede).  People may choose to get their entertainment and information on screens, or even holographic glasses, rather than paper neatly bound in a printing plant, but they’ll still need us along the way.


So let’s look at some words rarely heard in the halls of book and magazine publishers, where the worst dirty word used to be “Returns.”  Let’s explore the forces changing around us, and avoid the textbook error long taught in M.B.A. programs down the hall: the moment when railroads decided they were in the railroad business, not the transportation business.  Welcome to the future, complete with a new set of dirty words.

Interested In Being A Graduate Assistant for the “Pace Press” in 2013?

The M.S. in Publishing program is announcing the opening of a Pace University Press, Graduate Assistant position for the Spring 2013 semester.


Any M.S. in Publishing students with a thorough knowledge of Adobe InDesign and Editing Experience should consider applying for this position!  


If you are interested in becoming a Graduate Assistant and have the neccessary credentials, please email your resume to Professor Sherman Raskin at sraskin@pace.edu.  Upon receipt of resume, applicants will be informed of tuition remission and graduate assistantship benefits.