IN 1975, the
year's best-selling book, E.L. Doctorow's "Ragtime," sold
232,000 copies, chain bookstores were still a new concept, and the
word "marketing" was scarcely heard in publishing houses.
By 2000, John Grisham's "The Brethren" exceeded the sales
total of "Ragtime" by twelvefold, nearly all best-selling
books were published by just five publishing conglomerates, and
the business was transfixed by two hot buzzwords that had no role
in publishing even five years earlier-Oprah and Amazon. What has
In the last 25 years, corporate consolidation, digital
technology and an intensified cult of celebrity have transformed
the publishing business, for better and for worse. And while industry
observers and casual readers can sense the air of change, there
has been scant data and analysis to help us identify the trends.
Until now. In 2002, National Arts Journalism Program research fellow
Gayle Feldman-a contributing editor at Publishers Weekly and New
York correspondent of The Bookseller (London)-undertook a research
project and report that systematically compares "best books"
of the last 25 years with best-selling books of that period. In
the overlaps, divergences and trendlines, the story of the publishing
industry as it enters the 21st century finally can be told.
Publishing experts will convene to discuss the evolving
industry and the report's findings in a panel co-sponsored by NAJP
and the Women's Media Group. "Best and Worst of Times: Best
Books vs. Bestsellers in a Changing Business" will take place
on Wednesday Dec. 4 from 6-8 p.m. in the lecture hall at the Columbia
Graduate School of Journalism, at 116th Street and Broadway.
Featured on the panel, to be moderated by Feldman,
• Roxanne Coady, owner of the independent R.J. Julia Booksellers,
• Larry Ashmead, legendary HarperCollins editor whose career
has spanned four decades
• Michael Pietsch, publisher of Little, Brown and editor of
"The Lovely Bones"
• Daisy Maryles, executive editor, Publishers Weekly
: Events :
: Best and
Worst of Times