Robert Weisser has been in the publishing business since 1976. He’s witnessed huge changes in the industry, from the first DTP computers to where we are today. He’s also based in New York – so we caught up with him before the first NYC BookMachine event on 12/12/12.
1. Can you give us a bit of background into who you are, what you do, and what Weisser Publishing Services does?
I have been involved in publishing since 1976 (starting with Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), and started Weisser Publishing Services in 1985. Yes, that means I got my start back in the days when “cut and paste” meant physically cutting up columns of type on paper, running them through paste machines, and aligning them with T-square and x-acto blade. Thank goodness we don’t do that anymore!
Weisser Publishing Services offers comprehensive editorial and production services primarily in the educational and assessment fields. We cover the K-12 and higher education markets in most subject areas. Specialties include creating and producing materials that capture the interest of the target audience while matching up to critical educational standards. We can also advise clients on the best way to present their materials and how best to produce them for multiple platforms.
2. What has been the biggest change you’ve seen to our industry in recent years (10 years) and how well do you think the Publishing industry in America is reacting to it?
The technological changes are obvious – flexible and mobile platforms have changed the face of all publishing and have put new power into the hands of individuals who can effectively market themselves and their products. I think that the publishing industry was at first resistant, but now seems to have fully embraced digital publications. And that’s a great thing. Being able to include audio, video, animation, and links in previously static publications is a terrific boon to readers.
I think that one area of opportunity arising now is replacing publishers’ traditional function as the gatekeeper of what is good and useful in the marketplace. How are customers supposed to know what is worthwhile and what is trash? Opinion leaders who actually know what they are talking about can be extremely useful.
3. Is it standard practice in the US for Publishing houses to work and collaborate with each other and other peripheral organisations to make their offerings better? Or is there rivalry and a tendency to do everything themselves?
U.S. publishing houses have been partnering with other companies and organizations for many years. There have always been licensing deals involving publishers and other merchandisers, and functions such as warehousing and distribution have been better handled by specialists in those fields for decades. As publishers have shed in-house staff, that trend has increased.
4. Finally, we’re introducing BookMachine into New York what kind of impact do you think this will have on the Publishing community and do yo think it will be beneficial for Publishers to go to this event?
From what I have seen about BookMachine, I’m looking forward to the event as a way to be in touch with new people and to gather ideas that might seem fringe to us now, but may very well be major parts of the wave in the next few years.
Robert will be at the very first BookMachine event in New York – so if you’re happening to be there do say hello!