Publishing Career Field Structure
The publishing industry can be broken down into categories, according to the kinds of publications that are produced by publishers: books, periodicals, and miscellaneous publications.
Generally speaking, a book consists of pages that have been bound in some way to form a single volume. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which needed a definition in order to collect statistical data, decided that a book is “a non-periodical printed publication of at least 49 pages excluding covers.” Although there are many kinds of books, three of the largest categories of books are textbooks, trade books, and technical and professional books.
Periodicals are publications that appear at regular intervals, such as daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. The two major types of periodicals are newspapers and magazines. Although there is no absolute difference between the two, which are sometimes quite similar, the former tend to appear more frequently and to contain more time-sensitive information than the latter. In addition, newspapers are generally printed on relatively inexpensive paper and have large, unbound pages. Magazines, however, often use better quality and more expensive paper stock and are stapled or bound.
Another area of publishing is music publishing. Music publishers produce many kinds of works, including sheet music for popular songs, collections of works by songwriters, editions of old and new pieces written for specific instruments, complete orchestral scores, and musical instruction books. Many publishers of printed music books package tapes and compact discs with those books in order to make them more useful for students and musicians.
Publishers of maps and atlases occupy an important position in the publishing business. Most places in North America have been mapped in great detail, and maps can be purchased in all types of stores. Maps are made and published by government agencies as well as by private publishers, since detailed geographical information is crucial for military, political, business, and other purposes.
Many other kinds of specialty publications are available, among which are greeting cards, calendars, catalogs, blank books, diaries, scheduling organizers, and postcards, to name only a few.
Up to this point, the publications discussed have been print publications, but Internet publishing is increasing at an extremely rapid rate. Magazines, books, journals, and various other publications have been designed specifically for the Internet, and in some cases the entire texts of books are available to be downloaded. Most traditional print publishers of any size also have a Web presence. Newspapers, magazines, and book publishers all have Web pages, where they provide some of the material that is published in the print versions of the publications free of charge or for fees. Some publishers use Web sites to provide additional services, sources of information, and products. Book publishers have found that they can sell their products cheaply on the Internet. In addition, some authors make their own works available directly through the Internet, avoiding the problematic process of finding a publisher who will promote and sell their works.
There are as many ways of organizing publishing companies as there are different kinds of publishing companies, but for the most part, these organizations have some form of the following departments: editorial, which prepares written material and artwork for publication; production, which prepares the final product for printing or for posting on the Internet; marketing and sales, which promotes and sells the product; personnel, or human resources, which finds and hires employees; clerical, which provides office services and support; and accounting, which handles the financial end of the business. Many newspapers and some other publishers have printing facilities, in which case they have a prepress department, which prepares the publication for printing, and a printing department. Most publishers, however, hire outside printers, bookbinders, and other specialists.