“Books empower people, and books endure”

Says George Slowik, Jr., chairman and owner of PWxyz LLC in conversation with AABP. The history of book publishing in America has been chronicled through the pages and volumes of Publishers Weekly, which is now celebrating its 150th anniversary. Here’s more.

George Slowik

George Slowik, Jr., chairman and owner of PWxyz LLC, the parent company of Publishers Weekly, shares the incredible journey of Publishers Weekly. Excerpts.

AABP: As the bible of the book business and having completed 150 years, how has Publishers Weekly contributed to the International Publishing Community?

George: Publishers Weekly, as an active member of PubMagnet, participates in a wide range of international events, conferences and forums. In addition to book shows, which the global community is now attending in person once again, Publishers Weekly seeks out new ventures and joint projects with a variety of publishers and others in the global sphere. For instance, in 2020, in a partnership with Seville, Spain-based Lantia, Publishers Weekly enEspañol was born, with all original book news, articles and reviews in Spanish and distributed in Spain, the U.S., Mexico and Latin America. With the Sharjah Book Fair, an Arabic edition of Publishers Weekly comes out on a regular basis.

Publishers Weekly covers international publishing news in each issue of the weekly magazine. Our editors and publishers regularly speak at international conferences and events, both virtual and in-person. Recently, PW’s international editor traveled to Tblisi, Georgia, to speak at a book conference following the London Book Fair. For the U.S. Book Show, the international book community is encouraged to attend, and publishers are encouraged to exhibit. The Italian Trade Commission has exhibited virtually for two years, and international media will be in attendance virtually as well to cover the programs at the show.

AABP: What do you think is the role of professional magazines in the industry?

George: Professional or trade magazines serve a vital purpose in building and fostering community among members of the book industry. In addition, trade magazines serve librarians, booksellers and other book buyers by providing news, timely interviews, features and prepublication book reviews. Trade magazines provide a culture filter through which to view history.

AABP: What are the features that differentiate?

George: Publishers Weekly is committed to being a print magazine, for one. While it does have a digital edition, 10 email newsletters, podcasts, websites, apps and other means of disseminating information, the print magazine lends credibility and authority to the industry. It is part of the Publishers Weekly Digital Archive, which stretches back to the magazine’s founding in 1872 and is composed of 7,000+ weekly issues and more than 600,000 pages. It is part of the culture of the United States, chronicling the history of book publishing through the last 150 years.

AABP: What is your message for the publishing community on completing 150 years.

George: We should be proud of how we as an international publishing community have steered the industry ever forward, reporting on developments within the industry but shaping its future, too, by rewarding excellence in the selection of books to review and giving voice to the forward-thinkers and visionaries in our industry.

We stand for the right to publish, to read and to speak. Whether it’s Salman Rushdie or Charlie Hebdo, the book publishing community generally stands together in solidarity with writers and publishers.

For the 150th anniversary, Publishers Weekly created a special edition of the magazine, with 278 pages, a special guest editor (and former co-editorial director of the magazine), an original, hand-illustrated cover and more. The issue takes a long look back over the last 150 years, and the last 25 years in particular, gauging the effects of the digital revolution on publishing.

Reading through this special 150th anniversary issue, one thing becomes clear: there is a lot of reason for hope for our industry. Books empower people, and books endure.

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