Changing Lives

Last week the DePaul Journal for Social Justice celebrated its inaugural issue. As the opening “Letter to Our Readers” from the managing editor states, “It began with a dream. Three women with a vision to create a forum calling for justice, bringing inequalities to light and inspiring others to fight for what is right and just in this world. Beyond a dream, we had little more. No money. No office. And very few models for what we wanted to accomplish. We knew we wanted a journal unlike any other at our law school and among only a handful of public interest-oriented journals across the country.”

The three women are Jennifer Keys, Alysia Franklin and Susan DeCostanza. The last of these is my daughter.
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On the German Front

[Here’s Andy’s latest report from the Frankfurt Book Fair.]

So who have Ellen and I been meeting with here in Frankfurt and what are they interested in?

We have met with Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and general market publishers from all over the world. Some have wanted to get reading copies of one book. Some have wanted to look at several.

A publisher in India wanted to see How We Make Your Kids Angry.

A publisher in Sweden wanted to look at The Gift of Being Yourself.

A German publisher was interested in Deep-Rooted in Christ, a book we published by Joshua Choonmin Kang, a bestselling Korean author who pastors a church in Los Angeles.

A Norwegian editor wanted to see a book we publish on a Christian view of economics–Bulls, Bears and Golden Calves.

A Brazilian wanted to consider an IVP Academic book Rediscovering Paul.

A publisher from Korea was interested in Discipleship Essentials.

A Spanish publisher wanted to see Invitation to Solitude and Silence.

Usually publishers are interested in books under 200 pages because of the cost of translation. And often readers from other countries who might want to read our larger and higher level academic books already know English, so translations are rarely necessary or feasible. At the same time, many of these publishers already have authors from their own countries writing on some of the topics we publish and in a much more contextualized way.

Even with these factors in play, each year we continue to increase the number of contracts we write for translating our books. The substance and thoughtfulness of our books contribute to the good reception many of our titles receive. While contracts are rarely signed at Frankfurt itself, important groundwork is laid for future agreements.

Last night Ellen Hsu and I enjoyed dinner as guests of Brunnen Verlag–Giessen along with about a dozen others. Since we do business all day, our hosts said this was a time for a relaxed social visit. We ate at a restaurant whose name translates roughly as “Beautiful View,” which it did provide, overlooking the city lights of Frankfurt from the outskirts of the city. Dinner was served on the more relaxed Eurpoean timetable which allowed for a pleasant evening with our German friends and several of our counterparts from other U.S. publishers.

What is the news on the rail strike? It changes minute by minute. This morning it was on, so we once again took a cab instead of using the commuter rail service. But word now is that more trains are running. So perhaps the union feels it has made its point for the moment by disrupting the morning commute–then again, maybe not.

Reporting Live, from the Frankfurt Book Fair

[Andy sent this dispatch from Germany.]

The 2007 edition of the Frankfurt Book Fair got underway Wednesday in Germany with its usual bustle of activity. Several thousand publishers from all over the world have set up their displays—some very grand indeed, some more modest. IVP is in the latter category, but we are still very busy with half-hour appointments scheduled back to back all three days we are here, sometimes doubling up.
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Publishers Don’t Sell Books

“Publishers don’t sell books. Authors sell books.”

I was with a group of editors last week. Roy Carlisle, who has been an editor at HarperSanFrancisco (now HarperOne), Crossroad and his own imprint, was making a presentation and was getting just slightly off topic. But he was passionate nonetheless. “An author has got to have a platform. That’s what has been true in New York for the last five or ten years. It’s what every editor there knows.”

Publishers don’t sell books? How do they stay in business?
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Creating Readers

I was in Atlanta this past week at the International Christian Retail Show with thousands of others interested in Christian books and Christian music and Christian gifts. As we stood in the aisles, one colleague reminded me of APA President Pat Schroeder’s comment that publishing is the only industry that doesn’t seek to create consumers. The tobacco companies do it. McDonald’s does it. (Those Happy Meals are hard to resist.) Publishers do some–but not much–to grow readers.

“But what about Harry Potter?” you protest. “Look, we’ve got a 12 million copy first printing! Biggest in history! Kids lined up at stores at midnight! Surely that is helping!” Apparently, not so.
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