As newspapers struggle to get by, major booksellers collapse, and smartphones are a more common sight than paperbacks, the future of publishing may seem dubious. Print is dead—that is, if you believe the headlines on major digital media outlets.
"I definitely don't believe that," says Abby Koski, a marketing alumna. "In fact, the e-reader trend is levelling off. Now, we're seeing a 50/50 split between people who prefer books and people who prefer to read digital material; many consumers do both.
Koski, working in publishing, has a front-row seat for the renaissance of printed books. While corporate booksellers like Borders have collapsed under economic strain, smaller, independent publishing houses are poised to fill the gap for readers worldwide.
“Independent houses are viable in different ways than large, corporate publishers, which have a prescribed relationship with the end consumer,” she says. “Smaller publishers can get more creative with marketing and publicity, so they can connect with readers on a more personal level.”
As a publicity assistant at publishing house Farrar, Straus and Giroux in New York City, Koski is learning what it takes to get a new book into the public eye. When she started at Michigan Tech in 2008, publishing was little more than a vague concept. She started as a finance major in the School of Business and Economics, but soon realized that she was “not into numbers.” Eventually, she discovered an interest in marketing and added a dual degree in Scientific and Technical Communication to mirror her interest in literature and the humanities.
A turning point for Koski was an internship with PANK, a literary magazine headquartered at Tech. While with PANK, she attended literary conferences and landed internships with the publishers Aitken Alexander Associates, Ltd, Melville House, and New Directions. By her junior year, Koski had fallen hard for publishing and knew she wanted to pursue a career in the industry.
"Smaller publishers can get more creative with marketing and publicity so they can connect with readers on a more personal level."
After graduation she moved to New York City, determined to start her career in the center of the publishing world. After a summer internship with a small publishing house, Koski spent nine months hunting for a job and working in a Brooklyn bookstore, getting a front-line perspective on the state of the contemporary literature market.
Her persistence and determination paid off, and Koski landed her current position in April, 2013. Her multi-disciplinary background was crucial for finding a job in the publishing industry, a haven for English-program graduates.
“My business degree gave me a broader understanding of the industry in terms of economics and marketing,” she says. “Books are more than passion projects—they have to make money.”
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.