The process of publishing a book has many moving parts. The marketing team needs to be studying their audience while the copyeditors and fact-checkers are working on the manuscript. The design team is creating the perfect cover while the author is trying not to have their third mental breakdown. There’s a lot going on. Things are constantly moving, going, working. But when you’re looking at it as an archivist, when the work is done, everything is still.
Within the past few years, there has been a rise in independent publishers opening their own brick-and-mortar shops. By combining a bookstore and a publishing house, a company can bring in profits at different times and stay informed about what is selling on the market.
Everyone may want to publish a book, but only a few aspiring authors will actually get there. Publication can often depend on luck and the right publisher finding the right story at the right time. It is notoriously a grueling process to go from a rough draft to a finished and, perhaps more importantly, published product. This can be a lot for any author to go through, and it might also be the reason for Wattpad’s success.
I have a confession: I hoard books. I know the problem is bad because my cat keeps knocking over the teetering “to read” pile on my nightstand. Over the years, I’ve gotten some books I think are pretty cool, and I became curious about how much my collection was actually worth. Through a chat with the friendly folks in the Rare Book Room at Powell’s, I got a better idea of what collectors look for and what gives used books value. When I got home, I grabbed my copy of CHOKE by Chuck Palahniuk and put my lessons to the test.
Independent bookstores have historically served as community landmarks and valuable resources throughout the world. The experience of shopping at a bookstore that is genuine, individualistic, and an asset to the local community cannot be matched by shopping at chain stores or online. Moreover, a book is no ordinary item to shop for. Whether it is a picture book for preschoolers, a fantasy series for dreamers, a biography for devoted fans, or a nonlinear peregrination for intrepid readers, a book has a singular ability to illuminate one’s intellect and imagination.
My friends and family were naturally curious when I shared my plans to start a master’s program in book publishing. Many asked why I needed further education to enter the publishing industry. Is a bachelor’s degree in English literature just a fun way to spend four years and thousands of dollars? So I applied for internships before I dove headfirst into another educational commitment. Microcosm Publishing of Portland, Oregon, was gracious enough to offer me an internship, and my personal experiment began. Would this internship be sufficient to teach me everything I wanted to learn about the industry in order to eventually get a full-time job?