Sunday, May 10, 2009

Apress Reorgs: It's Simultaneously Unsettling and Encouraging News


The Apress Quarterly Call was scheduled for Thursday. I thought nothing of it, after all, we have them every quarter. The publisher, Paul Manning, flies out to Berkeley to gather the forces and deliver the news, good or bad, and urge us on to greater things. He's good at it and I enjoy listening to him. But he sounded nervous when I called in to join the call; cleared his throat quite a bit and wasn't his usual jovial self.

"Springer has decided reorganize Apress, moving production and marketing to New York and closing the Berkeley office."

Silence. He read on from his prepared script, explaining the reasons and adding that editorial, my group, would continue unchanged. But the bombshell had been dropped and I felt that pulsing throb of adrenalin—fight or flight? And yet, my job was safe. My books would be published and my authors would continue pretty much unaffected by this shifting of tectonic plates.

In fact, the reorg seems to indicate Springer's complete faith in our far-flung editorial group and particularly in our editorial director, Dominic Shakeshaft. We will be backed by new, more streamlined and agile production methods that are intended to allow us greater control and productivity. The goal is to allow Apress to grow and be a larger publisher, while recognizing that publishing isn't just about printing books; which is really the key to this whole, unsettling reorg.

I believe that all of us in editorial have recognized the urgency of the new publishing models, whatever they turn out to be. We talk about this a lot and argue over ways to remain relevant as the eBook becomes dominant and the dusty tome becomes quaint and rustic. But none of us doubts that this is happening or sees it as a negative thing. We very much embrace it and want to be a part of it. Apparently, Springer supports this vision, which is a tremendous vote of confidence.

It's interesting that in our thoughts of future publishing, we all pretty much failed to realize that we were discussing a business imperative. In short, it took our relatively young publisher, a Springer lifer with a background in marketing and engineering, to make the business decision and open the gates wide for us to step through into our future vision. It's exciting, but also a little scary. I'm not used to being treated with such trust, but I must say, it affirms my feelings of mutual respect within Apress editorial. It's very encouraging.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you mean "tome" not "tomb". It changes the meaning quite a bit!

Clay said...

I think it may have been a Freudian slip. I'm pretty sure that it wasn't Neitzschean. Tomb seems somewhat apt in this context, but I've changed it, nonetheless. Anonymous suggestions of a polite nature are always welcome and much appreciated.

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