“Nations cant learn as much from their differences as from their similarities”

says Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief , Publishing Perspectives, in conversation with All About Book Publishing.

Porter Anderson

Different nations have important differences in book markets’ needs and interests. We need to learn from other markets. Here, Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief,Publishing Perspectives, shares how trade magazine can help us understand publishing markets better. Excerpts.

AABP: As a leading business online magazine, how does Publishing Perspectives contribute to the international publishing community?

Anderson: To understand what Publishing Perspectives does, we need to start with the fact that we’re a trade news medium. That means we produce Publishing Perspectives for the international bookpublishing industry, “the trade.”

We’re read by the world’s publishing executives and editors; by publishing houses’ rights directors; by literary agents who specialize in the international rights business; and by literary scouts.

This gives us three key criteria when we consider what to cover: International relevance; Industry trends; and News and analysis.

Our “contribution” is a journalistic filter, an informed eye without “a horse in the race.”Our promise to our professional publishing readers is that they’re not hearing from publishing’s own players – who absolutely rightly love their work and want to promote it. Instead, our readers are hearing from journalists who specialize in covering publishing.

AABP: How can such publications help the industry make informed decisions?

Anderson: What a trade news medium offers is viewpoints, news, and signals about issues and challenges.
Perhaps we have a report on a given international market’s sales performance; or fresh insights from a high-level publishing conference; or news about a merger or about rights sales; or a new effort to promote the freedom to publish; or an interview with a publishing player who’s trying something unusual. Currently, we have some fine contacts in the Ukraine crisis, colleagues who reveal so much about the resilience of literature and its people.

AABP: What differentiates Publishing Perspectives from other trade magazines?

Anderson: Our top distinguishing feature is internationalism. It’s our calling card.

During this interview, I’ve counted, and our home page has 12 stories each of which is specific to a distinct country, plus another 16 stories each of which has to do with more than one nation. All told, our home page is referencing more than 35 nations.

Publishing Perspectives is designed to touch down in many markets, reflecting to the rest of the world the issues being discussed half a planet away. That’s why we travel so much.

Not surprisingly, the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has offered many examples of this. Through reading us, you learn that the virus’ impact has been quite different from market to market. Some parts of the world industry have seen striking gains while others have suffered woeful setbacks.These stories help us describe the breadth and complexity of this industry.

Our international reach reflects the fact that we’re a project of Frankfurter Buchmesse. Under Juergen Boos’ direction, Publishing Perspectives is positioned to cover this sort of range in the book business, just as Frankfurt is. We’re editorially autonomous and charged with being internationally engaged.

AABP: You interact with people from various countries. Would you like to share some insights?

Anderson: The main thing we’ve learned over the years is something I was reporting after traveling to Tbilisi, Georgia, for the closing of its UNESCO World Book Capital year. The event included a conference bringing together markets of the Caucasus and Black Sea basin.

Did we learn “how much alike we all are?” Sure, but more importantly, we learned how different we are.
In much international work – I saw this when I was with the UN – the frequently heard comment is that “we’re all alike.” To a degree, that’s true. But what we see at Publishing Perspectives– especially as the world media partner of the International Publishers Association (IPA)– is that there can be important differences in book markets’ needs and interests.

In Tbilisi, our delegates from Romania, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Ukraine frequently echoed each other, yes. But they also had many things to say that were different from the others’ comments.
With IPA president Bodour Al Qasimi traveling to so many markets – as we do – the IPA’s 80+ publishers’ associations from more than 70 nations can learn as much from their differences as from their similarities. That’s realistic and healthy. It’s diversity.

And that’s what we think makes Publishing Perspectives valuable. Agreement is great. Understanding is even better. If all our markets were just the same, we wouldn’t need the word perspectives to be plural, would we?
We’re Publishing Perspectives. Proudly plural. Exactly like the international book business we cover.

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