Foreword Reviews

2020 PUBWEST Publishing Meetup in Portland Provides Precious Insights

PubWest 2020 logo

Victoria Sutherland
Sunshine and blue skies welcomed us to Portland this past weekend where we attended the PubWest 2020 event, Publishing in the Clouds: Practical Solutions for Big Ideas. We can always expect a great program from Executive Director Kent Watson and his team, and this year was no exception. They provide a 300+ level of publishing advice and strategy to over 250 members and vendors, with keynote and industry professionals sharing the spotlight and a luncheon that honored Malcolm Margolin with the Jack D. Rittenhouse Award. Below are a few insights from the weekend we thought worth sharing.

  • Publishing Books Across Generations was an eye opening kickoff panel that explored the current identification of generational labels, with a focus on reading tendencies. Research shows that the two youngest, tech-immersed GenZ and GenAlpha, are definitely into print books.

  • In the special sales session, we heard about how important Edelweiss is for Ingram and IPG. Publishers are encouraged to keep their books’ metadata current as the distributors use it—and not print catalogs—to customize sales presentations. If you don’t have access to Edelweiss, distributors may offer it to their clients with special pricing incentives.

  • James Daunt, new CEO of Barnes & Noble, is on a mission to change the way this US superstore does business, using his successful experience running UK Waterstones. Seeking to create a third place in their communities, they no longer have cookie-cutter offerings in every location. Regional and local titles/programming are prioritized.

  • Digital books provide public libraries with opportunities to experiment. And simultaneous access makes librarians very happy, even if it is for a limited time. Providing low cost options to libraries allows small presses to get exposure in places where physical space is tight and expensive. Plus, Overdrive is now showcasing self-published titles and groupings that make it easier for libraries to highlight.

  • The marketing panel reminded us that B&N did not sell your book, rather it was all the other touchpoints on your various platforms prior to the purchase that sold your book to the customer. Google marketing checklists like these can help you develop an effective plan and platforms to increase sales.

  • Diversity issues were front and center on panels, during keynotes, and in private conversations. While the rhetoric was often fiery, the bottom line is publishers in a very white industry owe it to the world to create more books by and for people of color, in addition to building a diverse staff AND actually listening to their ideas.

During his moving acceptance speech, Malcolm Margolin reminded us about the “two bags” in every workplace: one with problems and one with solutions. You’ll never find solutions in the problem bag so stop looking for them in there.

Have a great week, Victoria Sutherland, Publisher

(Originally published February 24, 2020)

Foreword Deadline Reminders

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Victoria Sutherland

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