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Six Picks for Inspiration and Information About Publishing

Tuesday, October 1, 2013   (3 Comments)
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By Angela Bole, IBPA CEO --

Last week, I received the following email from an IBPA member:

Angela Bole

"I’ve been a member with IBPA since 2009–2010, and I would like to know if there is any book you can suggest regarding 'the business of book publishing/industry.'"

It’s a great question! It got me thinking about all the books I’ve picked up over the years that have given me perspective on the business of publishing. There are manuals you could read that explain proper metadata and ISBN assignment, but what of the ideas, people, and projects that are daily making our industry tick?

Below are descriptions of six books and projects that have inspired the way I think about my work in publishing. Perhaps some of your favorites are here. Hopefully, you’ll pick up a few new inspirations as well.

Publishing for Profit: Successful Bottom-Line Management for Book Publishers

Author: Thomas Woll
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
ISBN: 978-1556529979

Why it matters: Associated Press calls it the “Bible of the Industry.” I tend to agree. Publishing for Profit is practical and laser-sharp. Whereas many business books are broad in applicability, this book is specifically about publishing. It is an essential reference for small and large publishers alike.

Sound bite: “Publishing is ultimately a business of decisions. A careful reading of Publishing for Profit will show you all the ways that decisions about pricing, print runs, and all the other essential minutiae of publishing a book can threaten or enhance your publishing program” (from the Foreword by Dominique Raccah, founder and publisher, Sourcebooks).

Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto

Editors: Hugh McGuire and Brian O’Leary
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
ISBN: 978-1449305604

Why it matters: O’Reilly Media publishes some of the most forward-thinking books about publishing. If you’re interested in the future of publishing and how we might navigate a truly hybrid digital/physical landscape, this collection of essays will give you plenty to think about.

Sound bite: “There is a greater shift afoot than just pricing and delivery mechanism, and that is what this book aims to explore. We want to examine how digital changes the process of making a book, as well as what we do with it afterwards.”

The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption

Author: Clay A. Johnson
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
ISBN: 978-1449304683

Why it matters: Although The Information Diet is not a how-to book about publishing as a business, the concepts in it are important for anyone who publishes content. Johnson explains the role information has played throughout history, and why being conscious of the kinds of information you consume is essential if you want to be smart, productive, and sane.

Sound bite: “Information and power are inherently related. Our ability to process and communicate information is as much an evolutionary advantage as our opposable thumbs.”

Stories: How We Make Sense of Our Lives

Developer: Jonathan Harris

Why it matters: This community blog is a beautiful tribute to humanity. In a mixed-media melding of photos, videos, and text, people from around the world post their experiences and impressions about life. Here you will find 2,073 stories about First Loves, 1,103 about Home, 1,466 about Outsiders, 210 about Bedrooms. It’s so simple. It works.

Sound bite: “We were on a cruise ship from Åland (Finland) to Sweden. We watched as the ship came closer to land. Me with camera in hand, as usual. Then I saw he was sad, all of a sudden.

“—Are you upset about something, Folke?

“—Yes. I want you to stop taking pictures, and stand here with me and feel the wind instead, he said.

“And so I did.”

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It

Author: Michael E. Gerber
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0887307287

Why it matters: As independent publishers, you know what it’s like to wear every hat in the company. But what happens when you’re ready to grow? No one can continue wearing every hat and, at the same time, meaningfully expand their business. Indicating that 40 percent of small businesses fail within their first year, The E-Myth Revisited explains how to make the leap from wide-eyed entrepreneur to successful business person.

Sound bite: “The problem with most failing businesses I’ve encountered is not that their owners don’t know enough about finance, marketing, management, and operations—they don’t, but those things are easy enough to learn—but that they spend their time and energy defending what they think they know. The greatest business people I’ve met are determined to get it right no matter what the cost. And by getting it right, I’m not just talking about the business. I mean that there is something uplifting, some vision, some higher end in sight that ‘getting it right’ would serve.”


Developers: Blaine Cook and Maureen Evans

Why it matters: Poetica is a new tool that allows writers to work with friends and editors to make their writing better. The pared-down, intuitive interface means writers can collaborate on essays, poems, or even blog posts, in real time. It’s easy to control who has access to drafts, so users can run writing by close friends before revealing it to a wider audience.

Sound bite: Because it’s still under wraps, there aren’t any sound bites yet. That said, Blaine Cook is the former lead developer of Twitter, so you have to think the project has promise.

Director's Desk is a monthly column written by IBPA CEO Angela Bole and originally published in the front pages of IBPA's monthly IBPA Independent magazine. Angela welcomes your public comments below and private comments to her personally at


Administration says...
Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2016
TAMELA RICH (October 15, 2013 -- carried over from IBPA's old website): Wow, thanks for the tips. I haven’t read “The Information Diet” but I like its premise. I queued up “Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto” as well."
Administration says...
Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2016
ANGELA BOLE (October 16, 2013 -- carried over from IBPA's old website): "Nice! Thanks, Tamela. I’d be interested in your thoughts on each."
Administration says...
Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2016
JOEL FRIEDLANDER (October 21, 2013 -- carried over from IBPA's old website): "A terrific list, thanks. I see I have a lot of reading to do."

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