Challenges Lie Ahead for Educational Publishers
There is strength in numbers. If ever that saying was believed, it was in early June at the 2005 Publishing University. The 22nd annual event, held by PMA—the Independent Book Publishers Association—drew more than 600 attendees to the New York Marriott Marquis in Manhattan from May 31 through June 2, the days leading up to Book Expo America. Those present shared stories of their aspirations, challenges and successes, and talked about the rapidly growing size of the independent publishing sector and its collective impact on the book publishing industry.
"We really believe in the PMA philosophy of 'Helping each other achieve and succeed.' We work hard at helping new members as well as previous attendees benefit from the program," says Robin Bartlett, PMA Publishing University chair and president of the American Medical Publishers Association.
"[The conference] attracts publishers ranging from small startups to mid-sized publishers with sales in the millions, with customized offerings for all levels," says Kent Sturgis, PMA president. "The newcomers are happy and relieved to have found a support and networking organization that they can relate to and that relates to them."
"We are unique in our seminar presentation," adds Jan Nathan, PMA's executive director. "All of our 180-plus speakers are volunteers. Most of the costs of attending the seminars go directly to the food that we serve, the huge binder full of material that we print, and the A/V costs. Our free day on Tuesday for all attendees is something else that is not offered anywhere else."
Attendees split up into meeting rooms each day to take in educational sessions on getting publicity, succeeding as new publishers, marketing and sales strategies, basic budgeting and more.
One particularly interesting session called "B&N, Borders and the Independents," featured Marcella A. Smith, director, small press and vendor relations for Barnes & Noble Inc., and Deanna Parsi, category manager for Borders. To start, each speaker gave attendees a brief summary of her company and its place in the book market.