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Strong communication skills and the ability to meet tight deadlines are crucial for many jobs in this industry. Mergers and computerization will make firms more productive and limit employment growth. Writers and editors face keen competition for jobs, as this industry attracts a large number of applicants, especially at nationally known publications. Technological advances will result in a decline in employment of some workers, such as prepress technicians.

Although mostly producing printed materials, the publishing industry is increasingly producing its material in other formats, such as audio or video discs (e.g., CD-ROM), or other electronic media.



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Although the content and formats may vary, most companies follow similar steps when publishing material. First, editorial departments must acquire the content, or material, to be published. Some publishers have a staff of writers, reporters, and editors who research and write articles, stories, and other text for the publication. Photographers and artists are also brought in to supplement the written material with photos and illustrations as needed. Other publishers purchase their written and graphic material from outside sources, mainly independent “freelance” writers, photographers, or artists. When this is done, the publishers obtain the legal right to publish the material from the content providers prior to publication. After the story or article is written, the manuscript is reviewed to check that the information it contains is accurate and then it is edited to ensure that it uses correct grammar and a writing style that is clear and interesting. Editors and publishers develop captions and headlines and design the pages and the covers.

Book Publishing Industry

The sale of advertisements, including classified advertising, is the major source of revenue for magazines, newspapers, and directories, such as the telephone Yellow Pages. Advertising sales agents work with clients and advertising agencies to sell space in the publication. While most commercial advertisements are produced by advertising agencies, small advertisers may require the help of copywriters and graphic artists in the publisher’s advertising department to create an advertisement.

When complete, all of the content—manuscript, photos and captions, illustrations, and any other artwork, including advertisements—is collected at one location and, with the help of desktop publishing software, the pages are laid out. Most newspapers and many magazines have art and design staffs that perform this “prepress” operation. Other publishers contract out their prepress work to commercial printers, along with the physical production of the publication.

Publishers’ publicity, marketing, and circulation departments are responsible for promoting a publication and increasing sales and circulation. Book publishers, in particular, promote new books by creating elaborate publicity campaigns involving book signings and public appearances by the author.

Getting the publication to the readers is a function of the distribution department. Major book publishers often have large warehouse operations, where books are stored and from which they are delivered as needed. Newspapers and magazines, however, distribute each issue only once. Immediately after they are printed, newspapers are folded, filled with inserts, bundled, and wrapped. The newspapers are then transported to distributors, who deliver the newspapers to newsstands and individual carriers. Another major function of newspaper distribution is making sure that newspapers are delivered on time at readers’ doorsteps. Magazines are mailed to subscribers after printing or shipped to retail distributors. Many magazines and some newspapers contract out their distribution.

Newspapers employ the largest number of workers in the publishing industry. (See table 1.) With a staff of reporters and correspondents, newspapers report on events taking place locally and around the world. Despite the local nature of most newspaper reporting, the newspaper industry is dominated by several large corporations that own most of the newspapers in the country. It also is becoming common for companies to buy several newspapers in a single region so that they can be produced more efficiently. This is known as “clustering.” Under this arrangement, multiple newspapers share the same printing plant, and advertising sales agents can sell advertising space as a bundle in all of the papers.
[ Excerpted from Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2008-09 Edition - Publishing ]