Radius News

Publishing Note: Change is Hard


In July 1994, instead of heading to the classroom to teach, I walked into the midtown Manhattan highrise office building of a major publisher wide eyed with anticipation. This was a big change for me. With a recent PhD in hand, I stepped away from a full-time academic career and embarked on what has turned into a nearly thirty-year publishing career. My first day on the job, I was ushered into an office and told to get acquainted with the place. Bookshelves, file cabinets, and stacks of manuscripts lined the walls, and a majestic IBM Selectric typewriter occupied much of the desk. Having spent the previous decade in academia, I was accustomed to using computers and technology to do research, write, study, and teach. Mass market desktop computers had been around since 1982, the World Wide Web had launched in 1991. Silly me, when I took the job, I unconsciously expected to use a computer to do my work. When I inquired about a computer, my boss replied, “All we have is typewriters.” It was time for change at the company. In due course the IBM Selectrics gave way to IBM PCs, but it took a while. Over the years I learned that the publishing industry is slow to change. It seems like we only change when forced to.

Adjusting to new circumstances is as difficult in business as it is in life. Changes may be desirable and welcome or unwanted and resisted. Sometimes change creeps up on us, gradually shifting how we do or think about something, going largely unnoticed. Other times change is cataclysmic, sudden, and unavoidable. Whether desired or unwanted, gradual or sudden, change is hard for some industries, organizations, and people to adapt to. It forces us to act and think differently, altering well-established habits and patterns we may be very comfortable with and loath to give up.

Thankfully, we at Radius Book Group are good with change—anticipating and adapting to it. We are a nimble, flexible company, willing to look at things in new ways and come up with novel solutions to challenges we face. Rather than shrinking from change, we relish the adventure and look forward to the opportunities change brings. Be they new technologies, intolerable impediments, or never-before-encountered ideas, we are up for change. How about you?