The Book Industry Guild of New York meeting on 9 October was about education for publishing. This is my report on the meeting:

This meeting was a lot more exciting than you would have expected, and those who stayed away missed a treat.

Our three panelists, Andrea Chambers, Director, Center for Publishing, New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies, Lindy Hess, Director, Columbia Publishing Course, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and Jane Kinney-Denning, Professor and Director of Internships and Corporate Outreach, Pace University, spoke openly and engagingly about their work. Under the light rein of moderator Damon Zucca, they told us how they got into the business of educating publishers (by chance and good fortune it almost seems), described the course offerings they provide, which cover both book and magazine publishing, and discussed with an engaged audience many issues surrounding their work. The message that emerged was that of the two strands of education for publishing (recent graduates seeking to enter the industry, and more experienced publishing staff seeking to broaden their skill sets) the second offered much to think about to those who were lucky enough to be there. Andrea Chambers reported that 48% of their recent interns had “graduated” to a full-time position at the publishing houses where they were interning — they had the skills which set them apart from their competitors. It probably behoves all of us to consider the importance of retooling our careers in these times of change. There are of course costs involved, but it’s not just the full course that’s available: a specific course on one aspect of the business over a weekend is a manageable option, and many courses are available on-line.

Information at

http://www.scps.nyu.edu/academics/departments/publishing/academic-offerings/ms-in-publishing.html

http://www.journalism.columbia.edu/page/216-columbia-publishing-course/217

http://www.pace.edu/dyson/academic-departments-and-programs/publishing

When I started in publishing the tendency was to hire smart people, tell them as little as possible, and assume they’d figure it out. It sort of worked in those low(er) pressure days. I was surprised after the meeting to find that I now think training is important. I would recommend to everyone who is worried about the future of book publishing to do a course or two on digital publishing. You’ve got to adjust.

The UK has an organization called The Publishing Training Centre. Visit it here.

Later: This link will take you to Open Road Media’s account of The Best Publishing Programs in the US.

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