California’s Growing Publishing Industry

Donna Levin
California novelist and author of California Street (Simon & Schuster)

Is the printed word becoming as old-fashioned a way to tell stories as carving figures into totem poles?

If you attended the American Library Association Convention at Moscone Center last week you would know that books are not only alive and well, but beloved my many, including the over 22,000 librarians, library workers and library supporters who attended.

In the vast exhibition hall, the large New York publishers had their booths: Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Hyperion, W.W. Norton, Macmillan, Hachette, HarperCollins. So also though were hundreds of other specialty publishers—publishers specializing in photography, or medieval history, or children’s literature, or poetry, or the old West.

Though publishing continues to be based in New York, California’s publishing industry is expanding, including as a source of employment. California is now the home for over one hundred significant publishing companies. In the literary fiction field, Counterpoint, Prospect Park, and Rare Bird Books,  are just a few of the California-based  publishers who are vibrant, ongoing entities.

donnaala2Of course, publishing as an industry is rapidly evolving with the technologies available to authors for publishing outside of the traditional structures, and for various forms of self-publishing. In a recent column, San Francisco Chronicle blogger and writer, Laura Shumaker writes about her experiences as a self-published author (selling a very respectable 7000 books).

The California Library Association (CLA) will have its own convention later this year: in Pasadena, from November 5th-November 8th.   This year’s conference theme is “Reimagine/Reinvent,” which for many people is what California is all about.  Whatever image you have of librarians is likely to be changed if you attend the “Librarians Got Talent” special at CLA, or the “The Midnight Cat Video Film Festival”. Cat Video Film Festival? That’s for me with my three cats; see you there.

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