Is there any good info in Publishers Weekly?
March 20, 2008 8:35 AM   Subscribe

BookPublishingFilter: I've been an editorial assistant for six months, and I'm trying to figure out how to best learn more about the business. I read Publishers Weekly every week, but I have yet to understand what I'm supposed to get out of it. Folks in the business (past or present): do you find PW useful? If so, how? What parts of it are good? If not, what industry pubs are good? (Or should I just stick to things like the NYTBR and Bookforum?)

Incidentally, I'm curious how many book people are a part of the hive mind.
posted by ocherdraco to Work & Money (10 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm an editor, but currently not with any sort of traditional publishing house, large or small. But I've worked for book review journals and for large-ish and teeny publishers, and boy do I miss PW.

What I got out of it: Gossip. Trends. Which house was selling off (or contemplating selling off) an imprint. What new authors were getting huge advances - are they the bleeding edge of a new trend towards memoir/mystery/literary nonfic/fillintheblank? What editors were moving from one house to another - and were they taking any authors with them? What major bookstore chains might be expanding/shrinking/developing a new online presence/getting sold? (I'm looking at you, Borders.)

The short reviews were also useful - they kept me up-to-date with what books were coming out in the upcoming months.

For me, in the jobs I worked, PW was useful in that it gave me a broad view of the landscape. I could filter out the bits that weren't relevant to my job or publisher, know to look for more details about stuff that was relevant, and still see the big picture. Also, it gave me something to talk about with people I might not know well at work-related functions.
posted by rtha at 8:52 AM on March 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm an art book editor for a publishing program within a museum. Since I'm in a pretty specialized world, I only glance through Publishers Weekly (and even then, not every week), but I do read it for the same basic reason that rtha says -- namely, to get an overview of the landscape. The issues that are most relevant to me involve goings-on at art presses and university presses that we tend to copublish with.
posted by scody at 9:03 AM on March 20, 2008


My job involves the other end of books (ie. selling them), but I've found galleycat to be useful for some publishing news.
posted by drezdn at 9:37 AM on March 20, 2008


I'd say a better industry pub is Publishers Lunch (email). Between that and the blogs at Media Bistro, I think you're better off without PW (which I believe is directed more at booksellers). I prefer reading the New York Review of Books to NYTBR.

I'd also recommend subscribing to a shitload of book blogs in your RSS reader. Here are some of my favorites:
Biblioklept
Booksquare
Book Culture blog
Columbia University Press blog
Conversational Reading
Critical Mass
Edward Champion
if:book
Litblog
PaperCuts
ReadySteadyBook blog
The Dizzies
The Millions
posted by mattbucher at 9:42 AM on March 20, 2008 [12 favorites]


@mattbucher: Do you get the free Publishers Lunch email, or Publishers Lunch Deluxe? Is there any point in shelling out for the paid version?
posted by ocherdraco at 10:17 AM on March 20, 2008


Nah, go with the free. If you want to know more about the deals going on, maybe spring for it or get your employer to pay for it!
posted by mattbucher at 10:56 AM on March 20, 2008


Also, I think you can search the deal archives if you are a paying member (which might come in handy if you are looking for some specifics on an agent or author), but still try the free version of Lunch and if you really like it you might want to pay for it.
posted by mattbucher at 11:35 AM on March 20, 2008


I am an academic writer and editor. Highly specialized. I believe it is very important to get your "specialization(s)" thought out. There's just too much publishing. Home in on your preferred sphere: academic (soc. sci., theory, politics, sciences, humanities, or art), or juvenelia, or fiction and lit., or popular (nonfiction, how-to), etc etc etc. Then find appropriate blogs and journals.

Also, if your hankering is in the academic or lit. areas (but not exclusively those two), then I second the suggestion that you read N.Y. Review of Books. It's very rich and deep in what it offers. It contains very little discussion of the academic editing and publishing business , PER SE. But if you read it for at least a year, you will find hints about those things everywhere, in the margins, footnotes, ads, and letters. I have read it for about 8 years and never find it dull. It has also given me a strong sense of the E. Coast and European academic publishing world, besides all the other amazing topics that are taken up in its pages.
posted by yazi at 12:14 PM on March 20, 2008


I agree with much of the above. PW seems like People for other publishers. Gossip and navel gazing for the industry. I stopped reading it entirely when they "officially" started selling their cover as an ad. Also recommend Publisher's Lunch and one other email subscription called Shelf Awareness. It discusses bookselling a bit more than publishing but also has interesting tidbits on the business.

I also recommend Book Business. Which I find much more useful in planning for the future. Less gossip and more news and technology.

As for blogs, I read those that focus a bit more on my part of publishing, academic publishing, and those that look at rights issues and search issues.
posted by Toekneesan at 12:41 PM on March 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Sign up for PW's daily newsletter. I get it at work (children's book publisher) and it's worth a few minutes of browsing each day.

Seconding MediaBistro. I check at least once a day and always find something interesting (personal or business.
posted by LiveToEat at 8:34 PM on March 20, 2008


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