Publishing people

After the excitement of the IPG Autumn Conference yesterday, a more sober but no less interesting IPG Board Meeting today at the offices of Harbottle & Lewis, sponsors of the forthcoming IPG Independent Publishing Report. We saw some of the top-line findings reported by Nielsen’s Jo Henry at the conference yesterday and today discussed the raw data in more detail. The detailed report will be published soon and available in full to IPG members, but what struck me particularly was the range of answers independent publishers gave to the question ‘What makes you optimistic about your company’s prospects in the next three years?’ 

Almost without exception, the top answer was: people. 

Three kinds of people, to be specific. 

  • staff: ‘passionate’ was a word that was frequently used.
  • authors: the quality of the writing, of course, but also their energy and engagement
  • customers: their loyalty and enthusiasm. 

The report also invites publishers to share their challenges, of course, and they are many. But despite a difficult political and economic climate, it’s heartening that the people who love books are the source of hope. 

It’s a funny old industry, publishing, and bashing publishers is a popular sport, but today I was reminded what a privilege it is to work in a business balanced on the knife edge between creativity and commercialism, connecting authors and readers, and surrounded by people who are passionate about good books. I fell into publishing 25 years ago and I can’t imagine ever falling out again.