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From London to New York: Book Publishing Culture Shock (Kindof)

London-and-New-YorkLisa Vanterpool just finished her MA in Publishing at Kingston University in London, where she also worked at a literary and film agency. She moved to New York  last month and has embarked on the next phase of her publishing career, joining the team at InkWell Management as a Public Relations and Social Media Strategist. Here are some of her first impressions of the the contrasts between book biz on either side of the Pond.


“Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today. I want to be a part of it, New York, New York!”

When I boarded the plane at Heathrow International Airport, I couldn’t get that Frank Sinatra song out of my head. Perhaps it was due, in part, to the large group of eager choir kids who wouldn’t stop singing it. That is until a flight attendant came over and asked them, politely, to pipe down.

But, I couldn’t blame them; I was excited too. I had just spent a year and a half studying and working in London, a hub of publishing, and was packing my bags and moving to arguably the largest publishing city in the world.

The New York publishing scene welcomed me with open arms and while I’m still adjusting to life in the Big Apple I’ve come to notice, quite quickly, two distinct differences.

SPACE. I know this may not seem like a big deal but when I first walked into my new New York office I couldn’t believe how big it was. Everything seemed so massive: big conference rooms with authoritative chairs, new desks, huge kitchens, and views! Oh my goodness, the views make me want to pull out a cot and sleep under my desk to wake up with the sunrise over the city. I mean it is a 24 hour-access building right?

My office in London was small and tucked away on a cute street in the eccentric neighborhood of Camden. Four flights of stairs had to be scaled in order to get to the office and on days when I had to run down to the shops for fruit and biscuits those four flights seemed like forty.

As soon as you walked in the small space you were greeted, hugged and smothered by books. They were in every nook and cranny of that office being arranged, put on display and poured over. Our adeptly kept space, which totally fit our needs, was like a second home; or like the home of your grandmother which instantly felt warm and comforting. There were couches, which everyone crowded to sit on in staff meetings and on hot summer days you curled up to read a manuscript only to find that twenty minutes later you were waking up with a thin layer of sweat on your upper lip and still on page two.

In New York, things are new, expansive and grand. My desk is literally twice the size of my old one. When I first sat down I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it so I just tacked up a bunch of pictures of London and started working. It doesn’t feel like home. It’s an office, damn it. And, a part of me really thrives off of this. I feel more focused more, ‘on my game’. New York has this way of making you work harder, think faster, and work longer. And maybe it’s the big slick offices, with the views of the Chrysler building, that do it.

BOOZE. Now, perhaps I’m speaking too soon, but the booziness in the New York publishing scene hasn’t hit me yet. In London, it seemed like every breakfast, lunch, lecture, conference, networking event and party had hefty amounts of alcohol. And people drank. Secrets were spilled, juicy gossip was overheard, dreadful authors were discussed – openly – and terrible first drafts were mentioned. And of course there were lots of air kisses, pats on the back, lunch dates planned and new connections made. And the next morning? Well, everyone grabbed a can of full fat Coca-Cola, took two Paracetamol’s (Tylenol) and got on with the day. No need to bang your head over what silliness had ensued the night before – everyone was silly. All was forgotten, everything was forgiven and there was work to be done. Plain and simple.

Here, in New York, you have one or two cocktails, exchange business cards with nice people, rub shoulders with celebrities (no big deal) hail a cab home, checking your work emails on the way of course, and get in bed at a fairly reasonable hour. I mean you have work to do for goodness sakes!

Now, someone please correct me if I’m mistaken. I’m very open to your criticism on this particular subject and if you’d like to prove me wrong, well I’m open to that too. But, with BookExpo America just a few days away my opinion could change. From what I hear, it’s an event. And I’ll have to report back to you on my experience…and the booze.


  1. abraham0225 says:

    From London to New York: Book Publishing Culture Shock (Kindof) | Publishing Trendsetter

  2. From London to New York: Book Publishing Culture Shock (Kindof) | Publishing Trendsetter

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