Today, Saturday, July 30th is Paperback Book Day! In today’s digital era, seeing someone read a physical paperback has become a rare occurrence. In celebration of this day, pick up and enjoy an old-fashioned book – and thank a publishing professional.
Let’s go back in time to the beginning of 2012. Although this was during the height of eBook and eReader sales, many would argue that this also started the downturn of the publishing industry, at least for traditional print products. I originally published a blog on a similar topicback in February 2012, after this article was released from The Guardian. This article explained how the International Publishers Association (IPA) was fighting to close some selected file sharing sites due to copyright infringement concerns that were trending at the time. One particular site made over 400,000 eBooks available for free.
Today’s digitally driven era has been a pivotal, changing the way we do just about everything – from how we do our banking to watering our plants. However, we’ve also become “spoiled” as a society. Anything we want or need is only a click or a swipe away. As a result, we’ve also been bred to (falsely) believe that anything we find on the Internet is not only true, but free.
However, as we have grown as a society, we’ve learned that just because you find something on the Internet, whether it be a movie, a song, information, a picture or image or even an eBook in a “downloadable” format, doesn’t mean it’s free. Ask the music business and artists how they feel about their work being used or taken for granted by users. It really IS the same as stealing…
“How Do You Sleep At Night?”
Let’s talk about books again for a second. I mean REAL physical books. Now, I have to admit, spending the majority of my career in publishing, I may be a bit biased on this one, however, I don’t believe that what I’m about to say is untrue in any way. I can confidently say that I know the hard work, the knowledge, the art and the talent that goes into making and “building” a book.
I guess this is why it absolutely shocks me to hear people complain about the cost of eBooks, print books, and even educational resources and textbooks. Yes, the cost of a well manufactured, hardcover textbook on nursing is going to be priced significantly more than that cheesy 188-page romance novel you find tucked away in a dusty corner of a second-hand bookstore. Yes, you will probably pay upwards of $100 for that nursing book, and about $8 for that dusty paperback, but we are talking about two different products. You wouldn’t expect to buy a full-size pick up truck for the same price as a compact car, right? Of course not…
Several years ago I remember explaining to someone about what I do for a living. At the time, I was a production project manager in the custom department at Pearson. So I explained to this inquiring individual about how I worked with universities and colleges all over the United States to develop and produce custom print textbooks. And his response was, “So YOU’RE the reason the cost of college textbooks are so high! How do you sleep at night?”
YES, this conversation actually happened.
Throughout my publishing career, I discovered that this was only ONE person who thought this. In fact, members of my own family even downplayed my career in publishing, calling it “useless”, “failing” or “why don’t you just get a BETTER job closer to home?”
I didn’t realize working in publishing was such a disservice… I mean, I know it’s not exactly the Peace Corps, it’s PUBLISHING. It’s not like I’m out pole dancing… (Oh, wait…I do that, too.)
All in all, I really don’t understand why so many people look at publishing so negatively…
People have spent more on Pokeballs these days…
“Publishing is Such a Small World…”
In addition to working full time and running my own business, I’m also on the Bookbuilders of Boston board. I was initiated onto the board in June 2015, and after serving a full year on the board, I got to reunite with some familiar faces and even meet a number of new diverse publishing professionals, students, prospective interns and even so veteran publishing professionals, all there for one goal: to continue building books – bringing life to each manuscript and media.
After spending almost 10 years of my career in publishing, I’ve learned that it is a very small world. You see the same faces over and over again whether that be at an event or around the office. Oddly, publishing is like one giant family reunion, and I’m glad to be home.
So here’s a HUGE thank you to all the publishing professionals, young and old, who strive to make a difference in the lives of readers, instructors, students, children, and so on through your diligence and art. And for those of you who recognize that there is something to be said for picking up a physical paperback book, whether it is educational, professional or for pleasure, we wouldn’t be alive today without you.
“If the novel is dead, I’m a necrophiliac.”
― Tiffany Madison