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Presentation Details


Notable Books and Notable Trends: A Librarian's Perspective on Publishing and the Future of the Book

David S. Hellman.

Since 1944 the American Library Associations (ALA) Notable Books Council has made "available to the readers a list of 25 very good, very readable, and at times very important fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books for the adult reader". From the perspective of the incoming Council Chair this presentation will discuss how publishing trends effect not only the quality of what we read, but the actual content of what is published. Based on years of experience on the Council, extensive work as a critical reviewer, and interactions with various publishers, the presenter will discuss how audiences are created for books through libraries and marketing. The presenter will also elaborate on how technology is starting to influence these trends. Discussion points follow:

A) What are Notable Books? A brief history of the Council and an overview of its work, including a discussion of titles on the 2003 list.
B) Eyes on the Prize: Are book awards worth their weight in newsprint? A discussion on various book awards and their impact on the publishing market.
C) The Marketing Maze: Who reads what, and why. A discussion of how publishing trends affect what books are printed and what you get to read.
D) Quality versus Quantity, A Zero Sum Game: How has the new corporate structure of publishing effected the quality of what makes it into print these days? Are good works still making it into print despite this bottom dollar quantity is king philosophy?
E) Places to Read: Are libraries and independent bookstores things of the past? Are mega-bookstores and online shopping making these traditional places obsolete?
F) The Technological Tourniquet: What is the future of books as an electronic media? What is the current response to e-books (and other e-resources) in an academic library environment? What will the new audience of electronic readers bring to the publishing and creative process?

Conclusions: As many proclaim the death of the book an honest perspective is needed to clear the air. Much of what has been touted about electronic media is hype, but the reading audience is changing, and along with it publishing and libraries. To deal with this changing environment all parties need to understand the trends taking place in the world of books. Some of these trends are taking place in the market itself. Publishers are often reluctant to take chances on books that are viewed as not being commercially viable, and instead focus their attention on blockbuster bestsellers. Despite many commercial concerns books are being published in greater numbers than ever. At the same time the Internet offers both opportunities and problems to address these situations. New formats and access to information are creating a new paradigm for the books that can either be its salvation or doom. In the end it is those people who have a passion for books, librarians, publishers, academics, and general readers, who are in the position to create a continued cultural place for the book. This session will discuss how all these stakeholders contribute to the debate and how the future may not be as dark as it appears from the surface.


David S. Hellman  (United States)
Senior Assistant Librarian
J. Paul Leonard Library
San Francisco State University

Currently Senior Assistant Librarian and Reference Coordinator at San Francisco State University. Positions also held at Santa Clara University and New York University. Chair (2003-2004) American Library Association, Notable Books Council.

  • Notable Books
  • Publishing
  • e-Books
  • Awards
  • Prizes
  • Marketing

(60 min Workshop, English)