Stanford Publishing Course Moves to Yale

By Cynthia Shannon, Wiley

The publishing community in Northern California lost a great educational platform last summer when Stanford University announced it would not continue the venerable 33-year old Stanford Professional Publishing Program. However, it looks like new life is being breathed into the program from an unexpected direction: New Haven, Connecticut. In a press statement on April 7th, Yale University announced it would take over where Stanford left off.

“The week-long program will retain many of the best features of the SPPC, especially the ability to work closely with the speakers in an informal atmosphere,” writes Tina C. Weiner, Director of the Yale Publishing Course. “The Yale Course, however, will expand the international scope of the program and concentrate more heavily on the business side of publishing, with an emphasis on emerging technologies. The program will also tap the resources of the prestigious Yale Press.”

“Right now it is still not entirely clear what will happen,” says Alan Rinzler, executive editor at Jossey-Bass and member of the SPPC advisory board. “They intend to run the course this summer, but so far little has been done in terms of planning.”

This is slightly alarming, since the inaugural session is scheduled for July 18 – 23, 2010.

Feelings among former students are mixed about whether the program, which was one of the most prestigious of the West Coast continuing education programs, would do well in an East Coast environment. “Being located in Silicon Valley, a place that radiates nontraditional free-thinking, is something that really made the Stanford course special,” says Sarah Silverman, who attended the course in 2009. “It will be interesting to see how the course grows and changes on the East Coast.”

“Yale was essentially chosen as default,” explains Mr. Rinzler. “Many people were upset about the discontinuation of the program, and Martin Levin [senior advisor of the program] agreed to look around for an alternative venue to host.”

The program still faces many challenges, including competing with similar programs at NYU and Columbia. Yet the program will also have more access to the publishing professionals based in New York, and the location may be more appealing to international students for sheer proximity.

While there is a future for the SPPC, however murky it may seem at the moment, Northern California is now completely devoid of a comprehensive publishing program. “I do think it will be a loss not to have major publishing courses on both coasts,” says Ms. Silverman.

“It certainly diminishes the book publishing activities in Northern California,” Mr. Rinzler adds.

How this will make an impact on the west coast publishing industry remains to be seen – many aspiring publishing professionals concede that they will eventually have to move to New York if they really want to pursue this career.

Yet publishing folks in California, especially San Francisco, are incredibly creative and have a much better perspective on the world than their colleagues in New York. Someone will eventually think of something, and this void in the Northern California publishing industry will hopefully not last too long.

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