After twenty-seven years in the publishing profession, twenty-two of which were spent at two companies I co-founded—Lantern Books and Lantern Publishing & Media (LPM)—I am leaving the industry to become the executive director of the Culture & Animals Foundation. I still enjoy books; I will still keep writing, for myself and others; and I may continue to offer advice to those seeking to find a way into (or storm) the formidable edifice that is The Publishing House. But I can no longer pretend that publishing is fulfilling for me, and so I’m going.
Book publishing has always been a tough industry, with low profit margins, poor pay, an insane work–outcome ratio, among a host of other indignities, such as your product being returned to you from the bookstore if it hasn’t sold. The explosion of self-publishing and multiple entertainment/education platforms has made it very easy to produce and distribute free or cheap content. The paper shortage, the consolidation of printers, the dominance of Amazon, and the global supply-chain crisis have turned the whole business of producing a printed book into attenuated, time-consuming drudgery.
I don’t regret spending so many years as a publisher; I’ve enjoyed working with (most) authors; I believe I’ve done a creditable job, and brought some good books into the world. I think our companies have made a difference, and that LPM will continue to do so. Perhaps one day I may return to the profession; who knows? If the ever-shifting technological landscape is more favorable to producing content I care about in a way that makes financial sense, I may find myself drawn back in. But for now, it’s farewell.