August 11, 2010

DPI: What's in a name?

So the Denver Publishing Institute is over. I've taken a flight back home, and now will commence searching desperately for a job. A publishing job, preferably, but any job that pays the bills will do. All this goes to say - I will no longer be posting about what I'm learning while at DPI. Instead, I'll be talking about what how attending DPI has changed the way I think and act. First up? Publishing houses and imprints.

Truly, what's in a name? Whether or not a book is published by Penguin won't change the words on the page. (Probably.) Before going to Denver, I can honestly say I was logo-blind. I could not, under pain of death, tell you what house published what. Maybe I could guess at it. And maybe I'd be right. Occasionally. When deciding whether or not to read a book, checking out its house didn't even make it onto the list of considerations.

Okay, I still can't say that yes, I love Harper Perennial books. (That would be because I still couldn't tell you a current Harper Perennial title if you paid me.) But my eyes have been fully opened to the fact that different houses have different personalities, and they each publish different types of books.

How will this change the way I act? To start with, I will be checking the spines of books I pick up in the future. I won't be doing this in order to weed out the "undesirable" publishing houses (is there such a thing?) - instead, it will be research. What houses tend to publish the books I want to read? Are there trends that publishing houses follow (or lead)? How has a house's personality changed throughout the years? (That last one will take a while to collect a reasonable set of data.) There have been entire imprints founded just because a publishing house said, "I want to start doing some science fiction." Which I think is pretty cool.

Not only are these just interesting questions to ponder, the answers to them will inform my own actions. Knowing which house published which book may end up changing my reading habits. I may start checking out a publishing house's website for their frontlist titles if I know I've read (and loved) 85% of their backlist. (Unlikely, but possible.) And I'll certainly be paying attention to those houses - chances are, I'll be very interested in any job openings that come up there.

This may take a while to get used to. My data so far? I now know that The World Without Us was published by St. Martin's Press. See? Progress! (Although it's technically published by Thomas Dunne Books, which is a division of St. Martin's Press, which in turn is part of Macmillan...? Oy. That's going to take a while...) And that funny looking bird that shows up on spines? Yeah, that's a penguin. (Just kidding - I knew that one, at least.)

What about you? Do you pay attention to imprints and publishers when you read? Any favorites? Any not-so-favorites?

3 comments:

  1. I know less about these sorts of things that I should, so there's only one imprint that inspires me to pay special notice: FSG. If I'm waffling on trying something, that's enough to push it into my shopping cart.

    ReplyDelete
  2. When I was curious to just discover who the publishing houses were, I went through my bookshelf and checked out the spines but I have to say that these days it's something I don't notice as much, even though I probably should. *Picks up book* Harcourt. There you go, that wasn't so hard!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The whole brand recognition thing when it comes to books has been completely lost to me in the past, though I'm beginning to pay more attention. It'll definitely be interesting going forward...

    @the Ape - why FSG? Do they always seem to have quality books?

    ReplyDelete