At the annual Association of American Publishers meeting in New York on February 28, the topic was “Innovative Solutions for Historic Challenges,” and those ranged from education to the current congressional impasse, to copyright. Education critic and NYU professor Diane Ravitch was on hand to address the first, Senator Olympia Snowe discussed the second, and Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of the (UK) Publishers Association tackled the third. Before the program got started, members met to elect Carolyn Reidy to the role of Executive Chair of the AAP, from her position as Vice Chair.
Many publishers from both professional and trade houses were on hand, but the session was not as well attended as some in the past, despite the impressive speakers. Perhaps conflicts with some sales conferences caused the drop off. Nevertheless, Macmillan’s John Sargent, Perseus’ David Steinberger (who acted as MC with Tom Allen, President and CEO of AAP), HarperCollins’ Brian Murray, Hachette’s David Young, Reidy, Cengage’s Ronald Dunn and other CEOs were present.
Ravitch was particularly outspoken about the state of American elhi education, declaring at one point that “charter schools transfer public money to private ventures, undermine public schools, and work to destroy teacher unions.” She mentioned that, when she wrote her first book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, numerous publishers turned it down (it was eventually published by Basic Books. Her next, Reign of Error, will be published by Knopf).
Snowe referred to the current congressional bipartisanship as “brinkmanship at its worst,” but on balance, she was hopeful that the country – and its leaders – are ready for change. Her book, Fighting for Common Ground, will be published by Weinstein Books in May.
Mollet was more focused on explaining what The Copyright Hub – a global digital copyright exchange initiative that would help potential licensors find the content’s copyright holders – would be able to do if all parties participated. As the Hub, which is a nonpartisan UK government sanctioned program, would include book, music and other content holders’ rights data, its successful launch would transform the global licensing business.
The meeting wrapped up shortly past 1 pm, and Tom Allen reminded participants that they should return again in 2014 – as soon as that date and venue is set. For details go to www.publishers.org