Jan Nathan: Getting to Know PMA’s Chief

April 2003
by Steve O’Keefe

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Jan Nathan has been the Executive Director of the Publishers Marketing Association since its formation in 1983. She has become known to everyone in the small press world through her 20 years of service to the cause, but I got to know the “Tough Love” matriarch of independent publishing even better during a recent interview.

I learned, for instance, that she has received substantial critical acclaim in another arena–the world of competitive bridge. You’ll find almost as many references to her card-playing prowess online as you will to her publishing advocacy. Bridge is stacked with metaphors for the publishing world–bidding and contracts, transportation problems, finesse. But perhaps the most interesting parallel is that bridge is the only card game designed to minimize luck–you can be dealt the greatest hand in the world, but one false move and you’re going down. You can’t win with good cards alone, and you can’t win at all without the help of partners. I started the interview by asking Jan Nathan what lessons for publishers she learned by playing bridge.

Nathan: Patience with your partners. There are many routes to the same end. Success in competitive bridge–as in book publishing–often requires finding novel approaches to stubborn problems. And failure often provides the exact lesson you’ll need to achieve victory the next time.

Q: I was told you play your cards close to the chest….IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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