2010 Hall of Fame : Bob Sacks
A fearless entrepreneur with a ‘can do’ spirit.September 2010 By Janet Spavlik
For so many in the publishing industry, Bob Sacks—or BoSacks, as he is also known—is as regular a part of your work routine as your morning coffee. With his daily e-newsletter, "Heard on the Web," he reaches thousands of readers with aggregated articles and commentary related to all aspects of publishing.
According to Sacks, who is being acknowledged with the first-ever "honorary induction" into the Publishing Executive Hall of Fame (technically, the award is bestowed only on those employed by publishing companies), the genesis of his newsletter dates back to 1989, when he received an AOL e-mail account as a result of doing consulting work with the early Internet services provider. At a time when few had e-mail, Sacks used the account to converse with his one friend who did—Ed Cobb, who is now customer service supervisor, prepress and quality, at RR Donnelley.
"I would find white papers about the printing process and other interesting tidbits, and forward it to [Ed] … and I would banter about … why it was good … [or] bad," explains Sacks. "It might have been the world's first blog."
As more and more friends and colleagues obtained e-mail, more and more were added to the conversation.
With the exception of only a couple of rare instances that Sacks can recall, he has sent his newsletter out religiously each weekday, even from locations as remote as the Sonoran Desert in Northern Mexico. "The feedback is enormous. … It has been a positive thing for me and, I would like to think, a positive thing for the industry," he says.
Sacks is also the columnist who, after six years of writing for the magazine, so many Publishing Executive readers have come to anticipate on each issue's back page.
The Express Path Into Publishing
Sacks' career began in the early 1970s, after college, when he and two friends started a weekly, alternative newspaper, The Express. "[Bob] is and always was an entrepreneur," says Cobb, who was The Express' first staff member. "[He] was the engine that powered us. He supplied the 'we might not know what we're doing, but that doesn't mean we can't do it' attitude that got it done."