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Not New York: Book Business and Publishers in Boston

boston-postcardWell, readers, we have finally come to the end of our cross-country perambulation of the nation’s publishing powerhouses that are not New York. To conclude our journey, we take you to Boston, a city which has recently shown us its mettle by pulling together in the face of tragedy. Boston is a city with a lot to be proud of—its history, its universities, its sports teams, and, of course, its book culture.

It’s best to start with Bookbuilders of Boston, a non-profit with an aim to bring together people from across the Boston publishing and manufacturing industries to exchange ideas, discuss new trends and technologies, and promote publishing culture across New England. Like the city itself, Bookbuilders of Boston has an impressive history. It was founded in 1937, as the nation was starting to come out of the Great Depression, by a group of local industry intellectuals who decided to get together to “talk shop.” Today, the organization hosts networking events, runs a scholarship program for area students, provides training and workshops for entry-level publishing employees, and sponsors the annual New England Book Show. It also has a sweet job board.

With such a dedicated and supportive community, it’s not hard to see why many publishers call Boston home (or second home). The venerable Little, Brown and Company was founded in Boston, and its owner, Big Six publisher Hachette, maintains an office there. Houghton Mifflin Harcout, too, publishes many of its trade titles from its Boston office, including the majority of its children’s titles. Local independent publishers include non-profit Beacon Press, a company with an impressive 160-year history and a list that emphasizes various humanities and social sciences such as religion, history, gender and queer studies, and environmental studies. Also based in Boston is David R. Godine, a publisher known for producing gorgeous books that demonstrate the company’s commitment to quality over quantity. They publish original literary fiction and nonfiction, translations, art books, children’s books, and out-of-print and forgotten “masterworks.” Candlewick Press, renowned publisher of children’s books (including best-selling I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen and the ‘Ologies series) is based in nearby Somerville.

The Boston area is well-known for its academic culture, and here the book industry follows suit. Harvard University Press and MIT Press accompany their respective universities. Bedford, Freeman & Worth Publishing Group,  the Higher Education division of Big Six-er Macmillan, has its office on Arlington Street near the Public Garden. In the same building is one of Pearson Higher Education’s two Boston offices. Cengage Learning, another textbook publishing heavyweight, also has a Boston office.

If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of publishing, be sure to look into opportunities with Emerson College’s Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing, which is home to one of two undergraduate publishing programs in the country (although the publishing focus is limited), as well as a graduate degree in Publishing and Writing. Emerson also offers five-week summer certificate programs in Literary PublishingDigital Media Production, and Marketing and Branding.

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The fifth annual Boston Book Festival, October 17-19, 2013.

Also be sure to stop by the annual Boston Book Festival, a literary street festival and readings series, which occurs over a weekend in October in iconic locations around the city. The festival’s sponsoring organization also hosts other book-related events throughout the year. If you prefer a more casual reading experience, check out the Harvard Book Store on Harvard Square in Cambridge. The bookstore has been the area’s premiere independent bookstore since the 1930s and it has a large selection of new and used books.

Some accuse Boston of having an inferiority complex when it comes to the city’s relationship with New York, but clearly Boston has nothing to be ashamed of. The city has an inspiring history, but a bevy of universities make it a great place for young people. It’s a much smaller city than New York, easy to navigate on foot, and the “T” subway system is pretty efficient. Rent tends to be slightly lower than in New York, but each neighborhood has its own vibe and distinct personality, so be sure to do some research when choosing where to live.

Bostonians love their city: they love its history, its culture, its fervor. In an op-ed that appeared in The New York Times following the bombings at the Boston Marathon, author Dennis Lehane describes his city as being built on “resilience, respect and an adoration for civility and intellect.” Such foundations, coupled with its publishing industry and literary culture, make Boston an ideal home for any bibliophile.

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Do you work in the Boston area? How do you find the industry there?  If you’ve worked in publishing elsewhere, particularly in New York, how does Boston compare?

These Not New York profiles are intended to give a taste of the book-related opportunities across the country, and they are by no means comprehensive. Wherever you are or wherever you want to be, all it takes is a simple search for “publishers in X” to help you find ways to start your publishing career. If you have worked or currently work in the book business outside of New York City, we encourage you to share your stories and impressions in the Comments below.

14 Comments

  1. Marcia says:

    Looking for interesting children’s book having any connection to Boston

  2. Celia G says:

    I am an aspiring writer, well I am a writer, as a passion, hobby, and talent. I have been writing poetry and stories since kindergarten, and I would love to publish. I am unsure of the process, but I know my work would be loved by many if produced in books. Any insight would be greatly appreciated, i do not know where to turn. Thanks, Celia G.

  3. This is a great snapshot of the Boston-centric industry. Thanks!

  4. geraldine wilkins says:

    If I want to try and have a publisher look at my book, do I send a sonopsis or the whole manuscript? I live in South Africa

  5. Emelie V says:

    I am looking to move to Boston in September and getting my foot into the publishing door. I’ve been looking at all entry-level jobs at the companies listed in the article above. Any tips on getting myself noticed before I make the big move? I’d love to receive any feedback that would be helpful in landing a job soon after arriving. I am eager to put my Masters Degree to use (it’s been two years since completing it).

    • Shannon Kobran Shannon Kobran says:

      Hi Emelie! Congrats on making the move to Boston. The best piece of advice I can give would be to use your network. If you know someone in the industry, ask to meet for an informational interview. If you feel comfortable, ask trusted connections to keep an eye out for open positions. If you don’t know people (or even if you do) go to networking events to grow your network. You may have a tough time finding a job right away, but keep applying!
      Good luck!

  6. NC Brooks says:

    I have written a children’ s story that should be a picture book. Can I send this manucript to you and you provide the illustrator? In what format should I submit this?
    My last question for now, is do I need to copyright this project and where do I mail it?

  7. Jasmine says:

    Thank you so much for this post!
    I’m currently looking for colleges that offer a master’s in publishing and I just so happened across Emerson in Boston Mass. I’d like to try an internship at some publishing house that’s close enough to Emerson that I wouldn’t have to drive far but I would be able to hopefully work there one day. I’m still not sure which house that would be, but I still have some time to figure this out.
    Thanks again, it helped a lot. 🙂
    – Jasmine

  8. VICTOR AGUEBOR says:

    My book is a love story between a German boy and a Jewish girl, based on the experiences of the holocaust, during the 2nd World war. It is a story of blood, sweat and toil but it ultimately winds up with the truth in the assertion that love conquers all. it has two likely tittles ;the first is, “the call of the Tudor Rose” and the second is “thorns and Roses”
    The work denounces bigotary in any sense of the word and aims towards achieving global peace and unity hence it is a clarion call for universal love and peace in that regard.

  9. David Rothauser says:

    I am looking for an established publisher (not self publishing) for my new, unique historical fiction about the world famous Sacco-Vanzetti case, includes new revelatory material.
    This year marks the 90th anniversary of the executions of Sacco and Vanzetti in Boston. Has generated great interest here and abroad.

  10. Francy claudio says:

    I want to publish a book but I don’t know how.

  11. quizloli says:

    The problem is Boston is still too expensive for publishing salaries. There needs to be some companies moving to cheaper locales.

  12. I am writing the conclusion of my Prelude Series, fictionally accounting for the effects of Sam Adams on the Revolution (without ever actually meeting him). My conclusion is an alternative history, in which Boston’s “better sort” negotiate secretly with English to establish an oligarchy. I am aim get this book published this summer, in hopes that it will help people see that the oligarchy that exists now can be overturned in the November mid-term elections. How can I interest a publisher to help me market this book in time?

  13. sue Russell says:

    Hi I am visiting Boston in August (I lived in Lexington for 3 years before returning to the UK in 2010) and would love to set up some meetings with publishers who deal with children’s literature. I currently self publish and have found American teachers a great market for my school plays and guided reading books. Can you suggest whom I should approach first? I recognise that plays are a fairly niche market but I could convert into fictional form/short stories.Your help would be much appreciated. Kind regards Sue Russell

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