City Spotlight: Philadelphia: Publishing 'Wit'
"I'd like to see a really strong national magazine perhaps linked to a book press," he says. "This is an impossible request, of course, but I feel like there are West Coast operations like this. Perhaps one of the universities can create a publishing line that's not academic. But what we need, really, is everything. A better funded library system, more than a small handful of good booksellers, a press or two that publishes original fiction."
Comparisons with New York, 90 miles away by turnpike or train, are inevitable, though local publishers feel the city's uniqueness makes for a strong contrast with its neighbor up the Northeast Corridor. "When I think of New York, I think of a busy city with lots of energy that can be contagious and exciting. But, I feel Philadelphians take the time to slow down, to enjoy our pockets of neighborhoods, to sit on our stoops and tell stories," Weiser says.
"I think just by the very size of New York, the ginormity, it forces a silo culture that we don't have here in Philly," Miller says. "What I personally prefer about Philly compared to New York is how you can get from one end [of the city] to the other in minutes. You can't do that in New York. There are so many neighborhoods and boroughs and they are all doing their own thing. There is something nice about being a smaller city as far as building a collaborative culture of writers. In New York it becomes very borough-oriented; there are Brooklyn people, there are [Manhattan] people ... that may be why we do play together down here—because we can."
A Lasting Legacy
While the days of media giants like Cyrus H. K. Curtis' Curtis Publishing and Walter Annenberg's Triangle Publications are long gone, elements of Philadelphia's reign as a major publishing center still survive. The city retains a strong base in STM publishing as the headquarters of Elsevier's U.S. Health Sciences Division. U.K.-based Taylor & Francis also maintains a strong presence here.