The publishing world is currently experiencing a revolution, and Kellogg Fellows are seizing the moment.
In the days of ye olde publishing industry, producing, marketing and selling a book required so much capital that only major organizations could participate. Large print runs were required to achieve economies of scale. Success also required priority access to nationwide retail book chains (some of which are now bankrupt) along with significant marketing budgets needed to advertise in major print newspapers and magazines (also in serious trouble). Traditionally, the industry guarded its publishing infrastructure with a nearly impenetrable phalanx of literary agents, editors and publicists. Because of their high cost structure, publishing houses consumed most of the profits produced by successful books. New authors had to work night and day to get their work recognized. In exchange, they received not much unless their manuscript succeeded widely and wildly.
As a result of powerful technical innovations, however, these fundamental business models of publishing are being turned upside down. Thanks to the rise of online booksellers, e-books, e-readers and other e-platforms, and the ability to print cost-effectively on demand, production expenses are increasingly variable rather than fixed. This trend allows titles to become sustainable at much lower sales volumes, opening the door to a wider range of voices and ideas. Rather than expend upfront capital printing and storing books, resources—even if plentiful—can be invested in sourcing, editing and smart marketing that employs the search engines and social media with remarkable efficiency and precision. Web-savvy consumers are more willing to experiment with titles based on word of mouth and online customer reviews, rather than depending upon industry-centered recommendations. As digital and social-media platforms allow readers to bypass retail bookshelves and discover new titles online, with content delivered in brilliant color within seconds to iPads, Kindles, Nooks and even smartphones, the former publishing kingdoms of the ancien régime are in turmoil.
In this setting ripe for disruptive innovation, Kellogg Fellows have collaborated to create a new nonprofit publishing venture, Arch Street Press, that has begun to open the door to a new stream of high-quality, groundbreaking publications that might otherwise be missed or delayed if traveling the traditional publishing routes. This venture will also allow leaders and social entrepreneurs to benefit more directly and substantially from seeing their work find an audience. The mission of the Press is to publish the work of visionaries, social entrepreneurs and leading thinkers and scholars who advance human potential. We are lucky to count many such individuals as Kellogg Fellows.
The mission of the Press is to publish the work of visionaries, social entrepreneurs and leading thinkers and scholars who advance human potential.
A terrific example of Arch Street Press’s mission in action can be found in a title currently in production, A Picture Is Worth. This book results from a recent project collaboration including two Kellogg Fellows, myself and Janice Levy (Group XI), and also an Ashoka Fellow, Alisa DelTufo—the first in a series that will promote the images, voices and stories of high school students aspiring to achieve in the most troubled school districts in America. The concept is straightforward: Students growing up in oppressed communities of color come together to participate in a photojournalism, oral history (with audio recordings) and essay-writing project (producing 1000-word essays) that reinforces academic skills validated within the common core curriculum. Arch Street Press is publishing the students’ work as a compelling collection of essays along with their portraits. In this first book, Janice Levy—Professor of Cinema, Photography and Media Arts at Ithaca College and an award-winning photographer—created stunning portraits of the participating students. This essay collection, together with subsequent annual editions, will be available for schools across the nation to use in approaching the same core curriculum goals. So rather than reading only the usual dominant-culture essays that lack immediate relevance to real life-experiences, students will be able to improve their skills by reading and studying the works of their peers.
Arch Street Press is currently seeking Fellows to serve on its Advisory Board, which will help the Press source highly worthwhile projects for publication and also promote its current titles. All of the revenues generated by Arch Street Press are reinvested in its philanthropic vision and to reward contributing authors above the meager industry standards.
In addition to myself, founders of Arch Street Press include Darlyne Bailey (Group XIII), Dean of the School of Social Work at Bryn Mawr College, and Martha Lee (Group XVI), Executive Director of the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance—both of whom serve on the Advisory Board. If you would like to help this project or receive more information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a title that you think may be of interest to the Press, reach out to the managing editor, Robert Rimm, at email@example.com. Arch Street Press has the ability to deliver content via traditional print media, audiobooks and on all the available e-book platforms, including Kindle, Nook and iBook.