Personally, I was struck by the warmth of the people I met. It was very exciting to meet dignitaries from Phoenix Publishing & Media Group and China Publishing Group, which are among the largest publishing companies in the world. But it was heartening to meet a number of former students who were so grateful to Professor Raskin and Professor Lian for what they learned at Pace.
I was lucky to have a tour guide in Beijing who worked at China Publishing Group named Yin “Ling” Mengling. I spoke with her at length about some of the great opportunities available in publishing associations in New York. We also discussed a book called Designing Your Life, which I recommend people use to think about their career and life goals.
After we parted, she paid for her own overnight train to Wuhan to attend the weekend conference and take Professor Lian, Professor Raskin and me around Wuhan University. She has since started a Literary Salon speaker series for her friends and colleagues, which she said I inspired her to do. Mark Fretz, who also attended the conference as part of the delegation from Pace, spoke at the inaugural session. I am very proud of Ling and happy I was able to touch her life.
Another thing that struck me in China that I hadn’t fully appreciated before was the giant contribution that Professor Raskin and Professor Lian have made to publishing education in China. Professor Lian was actually one of the founding members of the first publishing program in China at Wuhan University and was instrumental in starting the partnership between Pace and Wuhan U. Professor Raskin has made extremely strong relationships with the major publishing companies in China and, because of this, the companies have hand-picked executives to come train at Pace every year. (And they were able to start the Confucius Institute at Pace University, where I took Chinese classes before I went.) I have a newfound respect for the hard work they have done to build such strong ties.
At the conference, my talk was on innovation. I spoke about projects in the publishing industry, including grass-roots efforts, where employees at any level can test their idea and pitch it to management. I was surprised that I was asked how an employee would be reprimanded if they had an idea that failed. I explained the value of a learning organization, where failing fast (and small) is a good thing. I was happy to see that they were thinking about how this idea could be implemented in their environment, and I hope in the future that organizations encourage their employees to submit ideas.
While Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites are blocked in China, the country is very technologically advanced. Most people use a platform called WeChat, which is a combination of the functionality of many programs in the U.S. like texting, FaceTime/Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and many others. (WeChat was created by TenCent, a phone company.) Many restaurants have you order and pay through your phone with Alipay, which is from the e-commerce company Alibaba, which has 423 million annual active buyers and about 80 per cent market share of e-commerce in China. There are QR codes everywhere on posters, bus shelters, ads, and menus, and they are very useful in connecting quickly through WeChat and other systems. I made many new contacts and friends in China and hope to stay in touch through WeChat.
I also visited many bustling bookstores in China. It was incredible to see the multi-story homage to the books owned by Phoenix Publishing & Media Group. I also visited a few branches of the Librarie Avant-Garde, including the famous one in a former bomb shelter/parking garage that has a beatnik vibe; a rustic one in a lush park, where you could sink into a comfy chair and feel like you were in a log cabin surrounded by books; and one on the Purple Mountain that sold only poetry books with lots of little rooms to explore. I felt right at home!
It was a fascinating trip, and I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to go! It really opened my eyes to different perspectives and I learned a lot about international publishing, innovation, and myself.
I hope you enjoyed your summer break. Welcome back to Pace University. We have 27 new students, 57 current students, and 3 visiting students enrolled in the Pace Publishing program for Fall 2017 – a total of 87 students this semester. The faculty and staff look forward to working with you and assisting you this term.
Please mark your calendar for the following publishing event. Bette Rockmore will be giving the Fall semester lecture as Visiting Professor on Wednesday, November 29, 2017. She is the Vice President of Advertising Sales at SiriusXM Satellite Radio and will serve as Visiting Professor for the 2017/18 academic year. Her lecture will take place at 163 William Street, 18th floor at the downtown NYC campus from 6–8pm. She will discuss issues currently facing the publishing and media industries. Refreshments will be served. You will receive an official invitation shortly.
Another important date to place in your calendar is Wednesday, September 27th. We would like to invite all M.S. in Publishing students to our Fall Orientation to meet faculty, staff, and classmates. Join us from 5–6pm in our Multimedia Lab at Midtown Center, 8th floor. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than September 13, 2017.
We wish you a very successful semester. Please feel free to contact me or faculty or staff if you have any questions. My very best to you this term.
Director M.S. in Publishing Program
Director Pace University Press
Quotes on Education are a dime a dozen on the Internet (please excuse the cliched use of this idiom). Some are real gems, and some are too earnest to post this early-on in the year. Since we’re all embarking on our first full week of the semester, however, education seemed an apropos theme for blog one of the 2017/18 academic year. After all, as screenwriter Gene Perret once said, “Education can get you the only thing that really matters in today’s world – an assigned parking space,” and that’s why we’re all really here – to get a parking space in front of the publishing house that inspired us to apply to this program.
But Perret is not the author we’d like to feature in today’s post. Instead, let’s pivot to the best-selling novelist (and former wrestler) whose writing style has been compared to Charles Dickens by The Boston Globe.
“With every book, you go back to school. You become a student. You become an investigative reporter. You spend a little time learning what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes.” — John Irving
Born in Exeter, New Hampshire in 1942, John Irving wrote his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968 when he was just 26 years old. Throughout his illustrious career, Irving has had 17 books published – 14 novels, two memoirs, and one collection of short stories, although he is best known, perhaps, for his novel The Cider House Rules, which won him an Oscar in 2000 for Best Adapted Screenplay. Irving is no stranger to awards, however. His 1978 novel The World According to Garp earned the National Book award in 1980 andIn One Person, his 2014 novel about a bisexual man falling in love with a transgender woman, won the Lambda Literary Award in 2013. His most recent novel, Avenue of Mysteries, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2015.
For more on John Irving’s writing process, check out his Big Think interview on “The Thrill of the Black Page.”