The hands of those who best understand e-publishing? The hands of the buyers for the chains, whose choices dictate what is carried by Borders and Barnes & Noble? The hands of all those authors who will now be self-publishing? Possibly, but it's also in the hands of the 92 students who are about to graduate from the University of Denver's Publishing Institute, the 35th group of publishing aspirants to complete the month-long summer course since the institute opened its doors in 1976.
Karl Weber and I (following in the footsteps of Arnold Dolin and the late Gladys Topkis) recently had the pleasure of working with these very smart mostly twenty-somethings, trying to cram as much as we could about book acquisition, the role of the editor, and nuts-and-bolts editing into two short weeks. In the weeks that followed our Editing Workshop, the students got a thorough introduction to trade book marketing with Carl Lennertz, VP of Marketing for HarperCollins, and overviews of many, many different facets of the book business. On Friday, August 6, the students graduate, and most have already begun the process of looking for work in publishing, whether in New York or elsewhere.
After spending two weeks with these dynamic young men and women, I'm here to say: Authors take heart. There are still plenty of people out there who care about finding, developing, and publishing great books and who bring with them the passion, curiosity, and intelligence necessary to do so. I've just met 92 of them. I don't know what form those great books will take, and I don't know what forms of social networking or electronic marketing will be used to promote them. But I do know that there are an abundance of talented young individuals out there who care deeply about books, and that their energy and commitment bodes well for our industry.