PUBLISHED JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019
interview by IBPA Independent —
Peter Goodman, publisher of Stone Bridge Press.
Podcast “Inside Independent Publishing (with IBPA)” gives publishers access to powerful ideas, strategies, and tools for success.
Podcasting is huge. From 2013 to 2017, the amount of people who listen to podcasts doubled from 12 percent to 24 percent. In 2019, that’s expected to grow even further.
In March 2018, IBPA launched its first podcast, “Inside Independent Publishing (with IBPA),” a biweekly show that gives publishers access to powerful ideas, strategies, and tools for success. The host, Peter Goodman, is the publisher of Stone Bridge Press and a member of IBPA Independent magazine’s Editorial Advisory Committee. Coming up on a year since its launch, we wanted to talk with Goodman about how it’s going.
Before you started the podcast, what was your experience with podcasts?
Peter Goodman (PG): As a podcaster myself, zero. There were a couple I listened to, mostly on current affairs (not my normal area of interest, by the way). I especially liked Preet Bharara’s podcast “Stay Tuned” and used it as the structural model for IBPA’s.
What have you learned since becoming the host, both in terms of being a host and about the indie publishing industry?
(PG): I was never a communications manager or a public speaker, so staring into a microphone and talking is still something I’m getting used to. I had a friend come over who gave me some great advice: stand up, but, more importantly, when you speak, use your hands to gesticulate. The motion of your body helps personalize and modulate your speech. That was good advice to prevent me from becoming totally wooden.
Another thing about hosting is just that. I’m the host, so it’s my job to make the guests feel welcome, and by that I mean that their points of view and expression are encouraged. I want them to be opinionated. They are not there to give me an excuse to pontificate. I mostly defer to their expertise, but I do have to pay attention and try to move the topics along so we don’t end up spending time going into arcana and technospeak.
And about the publishing industry, well, that it is multifaceted. It is so vital that we keep people in the industry for a long time so they can develop the levels of expertise the industry needs to thrive and evolve smartly. I’m naturally curious about things I have little understanding of, so I love talking to experts and finding out what they know. And people in publishing are very generous and willing to share.
(PG): Informal, a bit breezy, but fairly concrete and, I hope, informative. These are not workshops, but more like overviews of publishing subject areas, designed to make people realize what they don’t know and might need to learn more about.
Is there a set structure for each episode? Length, topics you hit on, etc.?
Yes, we start with an audio snippet, then a brief intro to the podcast, then the interview itself (about 20 minutes), and then a three- to four-minute commentary from me on some topic related to the main theme of the interview. In the first bunch of episodes, we had a Q&A section (a steal from Bharara’s show), but that proved too time consuming to create and also posed some technical challenges that I just didn’t feel were worth trying to solve, as the shows were already running a bit long.
Regarding topics, I try to look both at some of the nitty-gritty details plus some more big-picture thoughts and especially the guests’ sense of where the industry, or their part of it, is going. And I think I always end up asking something about Amazon—no surprise there.
Although I’m sure every guest has been great, who was your favorite conversation with last year?
(PG): I just went and looked at the lineup, and, you know, I can’t really pick a favorite. But I really do like it when I get people talking about what they do. I realize that they really know a ton, and it just pops out of them without them having to try. Experience matters in this biz, and in that regard, Tom Doherty, from Cardinal Distribution, stands out, and so does George Dick of Four-Colour Print Group. But everyone I spoke with was selected because they know their stuff. And it was fun talking again to literary agent Andy Ross, as he and I worked together 10 years ago when Cody’s Books in Berkeley was winding up.
For first-time listeners, is there a particular episode you would suggest they start with?
(PG): IBPA CEO Angela Bole’s, of course! All about IBPA.
What types of topics/speakers are you looking to speak with in 2019?
(PG): I’ve got a ton of topics. For example, diversity in publishing, logistics, copyright, contracts, more on book design and production, choosing paper, working with an editor, grammar shifts in American English, color printing, Amazon friend or foe, and, of course, my all-time favorite, how the Espresso Book Machine will save the world. People are welcome to send me ideas at @petergoodman on Twitter.
Peter Goodman is the publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California, and a member of the IBPA Independent Editorial Advisory Committee.