Chicago’s aspirations to become a hub for independent publishing

Chicago Public Radio aired a piece this morning on the city’s recent efforts to be come a hub for independent publishers. According to CPR City Room contributor Lynette Kalsnes Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs has hired Danielle Chapman, former editor of Poetry magazine, to spearhead an effort to “galvanize the industry” by creating more public awareness of the many small local publishers that dot the Chicago landscape, and by fostering ties in the currently fragmented Chicago publishing industry. Contributing to the conversation is University of Chicago Press director Garrett Kiely. Formerly President of Palgrave Macmillan in New York, Kiely explains that the publishing industry in Chicago lacks the kind of close interaction amongst members of the publishing community in the Big Apple, but working with a small group of publishers currently advising Chapman, he sees that changing.
According to Kalsnes “the cultural affairs department is [already] hosting meet-and-greets for local publishers and public events on the future of publishing and also has created a literary and publishing section of the Chicago Artists Resource web site. “But,” Kalsnes says, “neither Kiely — nor anyone else I talked to — wants Chicago to become another New York.” Kalsnes continues: “the industry in New York’s been hit hard by consolidations and the economy, along with all the other things competing for our attention like Facebook and e-mail.… [and] that’s creating opportunities here.”
Because of of small publishing houses’ ability to adapt more quickly to a rapid changes in the publishing industry such as new technologies and fickle demand, Chapman remarks: “A lot of people think that the new direction for publishing is going to be toward independent publishing. Chicago is so strong in that area, and it somehow fosters that entrepreneurial spirit, the real toughness you have to have in order to do that.”
Listen to archived audio from the broadcast online at the Chicago Public Radio website.