Today we visited Penguin Random House, which is one of the largest book publishing companies in the United States. The visit was informative and the staff members were open and willing to speak with us and answer our questions, and it was intriguing to know how PRH operates from the top down.
I was excited by the entirety of the publishing process, from brainstorming, pitching and editing all the way to marketing the final product. Additionally, I was interested to know how PRH chooses an author to partner with.
While it was interesting to engage with some of the other aspects of media, advertising and public relations, I cannot say that I felt particularly encouraged after the visit.
One of the things that immediately stuck out to me was the fact that book publishing is a money-driven enterprise, something that was readily admitted to us by the staff members who spoke with us.
While I certainly understand that companies need to make money, I was surprised to hear that publishers are seemingly unwilling to confront larger societal issues regarding equality of representation and diversity in the book publishing business as well as the entire “media” at large.
The staff members themselves even said that this business actually allows the perpetuation and dominance of “similar voices.” So I was slightly discouraged to hear something like that. I was even more put off by the fact that book publishing companies like PRH are not doing much, particularly in regard to initiatives, to remedy the lack of voices and stories being heard and shared.
Although I do not exactly envision myself publishing a book (at least in the near future), there is no excuse for the lack of publishing of diverse authors.
Furthermore, I am sick of the response along the lines of “that’s just the way it is.” That does not mean it’s not wrong and does not need to be changed.
On a the bright side, however, the meeting PRH only gave me a renewed desire to become a part of the media in some way. The media needs people like me who tell diverse stories and bring unique gifts and talents to the table, a fresh perspective.
The meeting with the staff members informed my beliefs that these trends of white, middle-aged male dominance cannot be allowed to continue in book publishing or the media at large, and I will do my best to tell my story through my experiences.