Keep Your Skills Sharp and Your Eyes Open
Do any of today’s executives really understand tomorrow’s publishing universe? And, do they truly understand tomorrow’s publishing employee?
These are some brutal questions this industry must face. They are on everyone’s mind. I know this because I have always received letters asking about the state of the publishing industry and its various employment positions. Yet now, there is a much greater urgency. Now, I receive dozens of letters each week with the same common denominator: How can I stay employed? Or, should I continue to seek employment in publishing?
Here is a sampling of some thoughts bouncing around inside my head: What kind of leadership should we seek today? Will we recognize publishing 10 years from now? Will the jobs and responsibilities then be the same as those we have today? Is the recent CMP Media news (among others) of folding printed products and sizable layoffs an aberration or a foretelling? If it’s a foretelling, what is one to do about it? And the bottom-line question is: Should publishing personnel seek new careers?
THE SECOND PUBLISHING REVOLUTION
We are at the end of phase one of the second publishing revolution. The first revolution was the advent of movable type and paper being available for the first time, at the same time. The second revolution started in the 1970s with the change from letterpress to offset printing. At this time, everything was growing, including the necessary workforce to render the quality products we now were capable of producing. These new steps included phototypesetting, color scanning and, into the early 1990s, the new desktop production workflows. This was great for the industry, as my good friend Dr. Joe Webb recently pointed out, because each step required uniquely skilled labor and produced a charge-back to the client.
Now, we are leaving the early stages of this already decades-long second publishing revolution. The Internet and its companion technologies have eliminated many of the multiple stops in the publishing cycle and opened up vast areas of less-expensive systems and methods for distributing our content.