Rubin Pfeffer was an editor - heck he was a Senior Vice President and Publisher for Simon & Schuster Children's Books! Now he's a partner at the East West Literary Agency, and he's taking his 36 years in publishing and using that foundation to divine where our industry of children's literature is heading (and what SCBWI should be called in that future.)
Here's the thing to keep in mind about Rubin's view of the future of changes in children's publishing:
"Not Instead of, But in addition to."
He joked about meeting a fellow faculty member who summarized Rubin's titles as "oddball" and Rubin embraced that.
With SCBWI on the verge of it's 40th year, he imagined how we might be relevant in the digital age, with all the changes happening now:
The publishing industry is being redefined by forces both inside and out. From book returns to new technologies, all pieces of the chain are being affected.
Retailers have become e-retailers (B&N reported last month increase in e-books, Amazon (the number 1 trade customer) reports e-books outsold hardcovers and quickly gaining on softcovers.)
Readers are speaking up regarding pricing, scheduling and formatting.
Technology companies are working on e-readers that are quickly eclipsed by a new one, and then a new one after that.
Some literary agents have even launched e-publishing ventures. (A big battle happening now, as old contracts get reinterpreted for e-publishing rights that weren't anticipated.)
Books as we know and love today will always be here. But that is not the only way...
it is a
"time of revolution - a time to look for opportunities."
And here's the room-shocker:
"Perhaps SCBWI should become an e-publisher."
With books being reinvented, we must be innovative in creating content that that can leverage the multimedia capabilities of technologies like the ipad.
Our challenge will be to remain high above all the poor quality material out there."
He suggests to SCBWI to form a steering committee to look at opportunities for its members as we move into the digital future.
Rubin recommends everyone read this Article:
NY review of books, march 11, 2010 "Publishing, the revolutionary future" by Jason Epstein
He acknowledges that maybe SCBWI won't become a publisher, but says it's never been needed more keenly to nurture and guide quality, into a future that celebrates great content and promotes childrens literature and literacy.
Rubin gets a standing ovation! Wow!