In a roundtable discussion with PW Monday, five NYU Center for Publishing students not only showed a decidedly undaunted stance in the face of publishing's changing landscape, but instead welcomed the new opportunities. “That’s the most exciting part,” Jeannette Williams, a Summer Publishing Institute student, said of the changes. “The jobs aren’t what they used to be. It’s the ability to wear many hats and think outside the box.” Evan Oare, also an SPI student, added. “I’m not really worried about [the changes]. Personally, I just wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
In addition to expressing their determination to a publishing career, the students also shared their thoughts and ideas about the issues currently confronting the industry. In their experience, the students didn’t see digital piracy as a problem, citing low prices and ease-of-use as primary combatants to deterring piracy. Kristen Vorce, an M.S. in publishing student who works as a project manager at John Wiley & Sons, said, “I’ve paid for a lot of $12.99 books. It’s so easy and I get trigger happy.” Stephanie Pitts, an M.S. student recently hired by the Random House Children's Schwartz & Wade Books imprint, added, “It’s so easy to buy e-books. You only have to click one or two buttons and you have it.”
All of the students came from different career backgrounds before deciding on publishing. Oare spent time in marketing; Williams worked for a non-profit literacy promotion organization; Pitts was a teacher in the Bronx; Vorce was in public relations; Bethany Habinek was in criminal justice.
Compared to last year's class, the percentage of students who use e-readers is way up, according to Andrea Chambers, director of NYU’s Center for Publishing, who estimated that 60% to 70% of students in the current class use digital reading devices compared to less than 5% in the class of 2010.
Habinek, an M.S. student who works at Oxford University Press, praised the benefits of Twitter, stating that it helps sellers and customers of books find each other. She mentioned how she found out about a recent author signing at the Strand Bookstore because she follows the Strand on Twitter.
Despite their understanding of the changes sweeping across all aspects of publishing, the students still had some traditional opinions on the industry they've chosen. For all the strides made on the digital side of publishing, the students all agreed that nothing beats browsing in a bookstore for finding books, and that comparable browsing and recommendation tools in digital couldn't compare. Williams pinpointed the benefit of quickly getting a feel for a book while browsing in a bookstore, something that hasn't yet been mastered online: "If something quick that captures the ethos of a book can be incorporated online, it'll make a huge difference."