Here are some things “everybody” knows:

Young people don't read. (See: several NEA studies.)

The Internet has killed the book business, especially for people under 40. (See: everywhere you look.)

New college graduates would rather work at Starbucks than squander their youths in the book business. (Corollary to that last fact: every smart young college graduate has a Web business plan in his desk drawer, just as his older brother had a screenplay and his father had The Great American Novel.)

Six months ago, even here at PW—where we're supposed to know better—we might have sworn to any or all of the above. In fact, when our group publisher, Ron Shank, suggested we do some kind of special feature by or for “the younger people in publishing,” I didn't completely understand what he meant. Like most people on the far side of 40, I still think of myself as a “young person” and like most editors, I think of the magazine as coming-from-a-peer-to-a-peer. What exactly was Ron implying with his “young person” idea? And even one of the decidedly younger people on our staff was perplexed. At a meeting, once we'd morphed Ron's notion into a plan that became our 50 Under 40 series, she worried aloud: “Are we going to be able to find enough people?”

So here's a revised truth that “everybody” should know: while the book business does suffer from some hideboundness, and while many book folk will go to their graves lamenting the loss of the “good old days” (when, by the way, they were “young people in publishing”), there is, in fact, a younger generation that is energized and excited to be here. People like, say, Carrie Kania at Harper Perennial (see our video interview with her, coming soon to our Web site, thanks to Turn Here video), who has some pretty strong ideas about using her generation's medium, the Web, to promote ye olde ancient booke; passionate bookseller Zack Zook, who has enough energy and people skills to sell coal in Newcastle but has instead chosen to sell books in Brooklyn; and the BEA's wunderkind and whirling dervish Lance Fensterman, who goes to more book fairs than Jane Friedman goes to book parties. These, and many others in our series (see our cover and table of contents for a reminder of who we've covered so far), could be doing something (anything!) else and probably could, even in the current economy, be making more money.

But still, they stay amid the ink and paper and, yes, the bytes and Web pages. Why? Ask a dozen of them and you'll probably get a dozen different answers, including my favorite: that like all of us old folk before them, they love books and stories and writers. But perhaps it's not worth even wondering why: let's just put our energy into celebrating them, as we're doing here. They're our no-longer-so-secret weapons in the war that is our fast-changing cultural world.

Agree? Disagree? Tell us at