Brave new world

I was once close friends and business associates with a man who accomplished a great deal in his publishing career, but he hit a wall when he was in his late fifties. He’d constantly refer to the things he did during the previous 35-years, how experienced he was, how much he knew.  Problem was he stopped learning, so he never brought anything new to the table. He was so busy patting himself on the back for his past accomplishments that he had no time to move ahead.

Jane Friedman

Men can be like that. Women?  Not so much.  We have an innate ability to adapt to our environment and to figure out new roles for ourselves. FOF Jane Friedman, 64, is a perfect example. When she was executive vice-president of Random House, she created an audio books division, the first of its kind for a trade publisher. After Random House, she spent 11 years at HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide, where she incorporated multi-media platforms. Late last year, she departed HC and created Open Road Integrated Media, which is republishing old book titles by top authors, including William Styron and Iris Murdoch, in electronic form.

Interviewed for the The New York Times, Jane said electronic publishing is going to be “the center of the universe.” She is determined to “help transform the industry, which is built on models that we all know are broken.” Bravo Jane. While book publishers half her age running around in circles in those ‘broken models,’ Jane is leaving them in the proverbial dust.

Just as Jane spent four decades primarily in print book publishing, I spent four decades in print magazine and newspaper publishing. When I conceived of FOF at the start of 2009, I knew it shouldn’t be a magazine. As much as I loved creating magazines, that industry is also built on broken models. FOF belonged on the web. So here I am, at 63, running a website.

Who would have guessed?

It’s grand moving with the times.  I wonder if my old (man) friend is rocking on his front porch yet.

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