(Please be aware, this article was posted on April 1st)
A sense of gloom hangs over academic publishing these days. As library budgets are cut, and the fear of OA mandates cutting profit margins clouds publishers’ sense of their place in the world, what is it like to be a publishing professional in this era of climate change? Like polar bears on a melting ice floe, will we soon be adrift in an inhospitable ocean?
A recent study by the Institute of Publishing Professionals reports that morale among senior executives in the publishing industry is at an all-time low. The study, performed internationally and focusing mainly on the private sector, shows record numbers of editorial moving to jobs outside the field, with jobs in realty being the number one choice.
“I am eminently qualified to sell houses”, one senior publisher revealed (on the basis that he remain anonymous). “My skillsets of not knowing much about anything, being able to win hearts and cut deals through obfuscation and charm over a good dinner, are ideal for closing the sale”, he said. “There is a place for those of us with a conservative outlook, who know how to maximize profit margins and still keep sometimes belligerent customers happy”. One downside is their inability to let poor copy for ads pass unscrutinized. “I found myself obsessing over whether ‘mancave’ was appropriately spelled as one word or two,” claimed one.
Another area that appears to be booming in the face of a publishing brain drain is psychotherapy. Publisher skills of dealing with cranky authors and finicky academics come in handy here, too. “My ability to nod knowingly and sympathetically at appropriate intervals has come in immensely handy.” Moreover, former publishing contacts form a natural client base. “Frankly, I was amazed when I suddenly realized that my patient had a similar background in brand marketing in academic publishing as I had. In fact, we further found out that we were connected on LinkedIn”.
The report concludes by taking comfort in the fact that while publishing professionals are jumping ship from the industry that has looked after them for centuries, there is a home for them still in other parts of corporate life where profit margins still matter. And when all else fails, used car sales beckon as a potential growth area.