Jonathan Mahler tells an interesting story about the open plan or cubicle office in the world’s publishing houses. The article Cubicles Rise in a Brave New World of Publishing on New York Times predicts that the open plan office “may be the future of publishing”, although this change might take a while for editors to get used to.
My personal experiences working at a Hong Kong local publishing house and work-shadowing at the Asian headquarter of Oxford University Press seem to speak against this point of view, but to be honest, I will need more industrial experience to find out the answer. What I would like to point out is that the workplace culture varies greatly across different publishing houses, and it is even true for transnational publishing houses whose publishers might need to travel across several cultures. It will not be surprising to find out that the collectivism-oriented eastern countries may prefer the open plan, which encourages close collaboration among colleagues, while western publishers and editors may be more delighted to retain their privacy by working in a cubicle office.
Image Credit: Sasha Maslov for The New York Times
Maggie Brown reports in her article The Fifty Shades effect: women dominate self-publishing on the Guardian that “middle-aged and well-educated women […] dominate the growing e-publishing market”. However, the article does not really give any satisfactory explanation to the finding, but rather goes on discussing self-publishing and how it causes change in the publishing industry. My personal postulation comes from Alison Baverstock’s comment that lots of self-publishers have been very collaborative and share information with each other; sociology and linguistics studies have revealed that prototypically, women are considered stronger at building interpersonal relationships and attending emotional connection, while men are considered more keen on establishing hierarchy and seeking power. Although these claims can be quite overgeneralised and may not apply to every aspect of human behaviour, they might still offers a perspective into examining why women, presumably to be stronger at collaborating, outperform men in self-publishing.
My favourite quote in this article comes from Michael Tamblyn’s “how people engage with books has been an undiscovered country”. If publishers cannot get timely feedback about (the change of) readers’ interests through marketing research, most publishing endeavours are likely to end in vain.
Image Credit: Ohio University