Hearing an insider’s view of the publishing industry is always a valuable experience. As writers, we spend so much time one our own that it’s easy to feel out of touch with the business end of books, especially given the incredible changes in ebooks, reading styles, and social media.
For all these reasons and more, it was a pleasure to hear Marjorie Kehe, the Book Editor of The Christian Science Monitor talk about her work and about changes in the publishing industry that are affecting journalists as well as authors. With more than 70,000 print readers and an online audience of 25 million, the Monitor is a highly respected global news resource.
In the six years since she’s been reviewing books, Marjorie’s job has seen some dramatic changes, driven mainly by social media. Today, she not only publishes book reviews and roundups in the Monitor’s print magazine, but she also features them on the Monitor website. Beyond this, she has a Facebook page, blogs about books, and interacts with readers via Twitter.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the sheer volume of books Marjorie deals with. Every week, she receives hundreds of books from publishers, but can only feature a handful of them in print or online. She focuses mainly on themes of special interest to Monitor readers: cross-cultural issues, the environment, and international affairs. To winnow down her book selections, she often relies on advance review sources, such as Publisher’s Weekly, The Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews.
What’s ahead? Marjorie foresees an increase in widening of the American world view as more and more authors become accessible to U.S. readers through translation; a huge surge of readers in China and India; and a promising outlook for authors as readers hungry for information reach out via blend of traditional print books and new distribution channels such as Kindles and ebooks.