Sunday, September 29, 2013

Collaboration termed key in publishing industry with new and old roles

Pakistan News & Features Services

A panel of industry experts gathered to discuss the state of publishing’s ever-changing jobs market at a Publishers Weekly Discussion Series on September 25, at Random House’s offices in midtown Manhattan. 

The evolution of publishing teams and the creation of new, innovative positions at traditional houses, as well as the integration of other media fields into the book publishing landscape, were themes of the morning’s talk.  
The panelists included David Bronstein, Chief Talent Officer at Perseus Books Group; Lorraine Shanley, President of Market Partners International; Susan Gordon, President of Lynne Palmer Executive Recruitment; and Anne Converse Willkomm, Director of Graduate Publishing at Rosemont College School of Graduate Studies with Jim Milliot, co-editorial Director of Publishers Weekly, being the moderator. 

To illustrate the transformation of organizational structures at publishers, as well as the creation of new roles to keep up with the expansion of digital publishing, Gordon pointed to changes taking place within key departments at some houses. 

Gordon also showed how other divisions, like editorial and sales, have splintered and developed in recent years. In the past, an editorial director would establish editorial guidelines and unify the group, while acquisitions editors bought content. There are several sectors of the industry with noticeable growth in the past few years, according to Gordon, who remarked that while recruiting, she has noticed an expansion in children’s and young adult, religious, and genre publishing in the domestic market. 

“Information technology is one of the key areas where it’s very easy to pull someone from another media company, and he or she doesn’t need to have traditional book publishing background,” Gordon added. 

Shanley also highlighted ‘cross-pollination’ of different divisions across the media industry. “Until about five years ago, you could be in publishing, your friends could be in publishing, your touch points could be in publishing, and you’d never know about the other industries. That has all changed dramatically. The influx of social media experts from other fields, such as the television and music industries, has given publishing professionals broader exposure to increasingly important digital skills,” she noted. 

As digital and print continue to cohabitate, specific roles in editorial, marketing, and publicity are becoming less defined and more cross-functional, according to Bronstein, who stressed the need for collaboration among employees in different groups. 

“There’s a lot of continuity, and a lot of change as well. It’s not black and white, it’s not digital versus physical and it’s not this or that. Publishing is, above all, a trendsetting industry, and always has been. To make way for new jobs, positions have been cut across the board,” Bronstein noted, pointing areas like production and sales. 

Willkomm’s presentation shifted the conversation from the change in the industry to helping the next generation of publishing professionals land jobs in a notoriously difficult market. The panelists agreed that while publishers are searching for employees with specialized skills, there is still a hunt for those with adaptability and a hunger to learn.

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