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Children's publishing in the post-Potter era

29 September 2008

'I suppose my trawl through the back pages of children's publishing would be criminally incomplete without a proper mention of the Potter phenomenon.It changed everything. Not a whole lot more needs to be said, except that it wasn't all for the good. The fact that children's books are now very much in the spotlight and up on the same stage as adult books, where they have always belonged, is great.That children's publishers have picked up some of the less welcome adult practices (jostling to become members of the Six-Figure Club by paying way too much for manuscripts, to name but one) is not. But, hey, to paraphrase Joe D Brown in Some Like it Hot, nothing's perfect...

I'm leaving PN during the era of conglomerates, who have absorbed and amalgamated and rationalised until you can count the independents on the fingers of one hand. Publishing has always been accused of being desperately inefficient and often that it's run like a summer fete, but there is something to be said for the entrepreneurial spirit of the likes of Peter Usborne and Brenda Gardner, and Barry Cunningham - without whose eye for a good story, of course, this would be a very different business.'

Graham Marks, chronicler of children's publishing for the now-defunct Publishing News