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Columbia Publishing Course finds enthusiasm among students, faculty

It seems like every other day one news outlet or another is carrying a story about the incipient demise of the publishing industry, the death of print, and the dominance of digital. These, we are told, are dire times for publishers.

Don’t tell that to any of the 475 applicants to this year’s Columbia Publishing Course in New York City, a number The New York Times says is “the highest … in years.” The 101 students accepted into the six-week course paid close to $7,000 USD to attend seminars run by industry veterans in what is billed as “the shortest graduate school in the country.”

This year, it was impossible to ignore the rapid ascendancy of digital publishing, and many of the courses were geared to this subject. From the NYT:

[T]he summer session began with a focus on The Digital Future. Students were schooled in Reinventing the Reading Experience: From Print to Digital by Nicholas Callaway, the chairman of a company that produces book apps for children. Managers from Penguin Group USA explained how to master e-marketing, and a panel of digital experts talked about short-form electronic publishing ” not quite a magazine article, not quite a book ” which is so new, the genre doesn’t really have a name.

Despite the uncertainty of the new digital landscape, there was apparently no shortage of enthusiasm among the students and teachers in this year’s course.

You never know what’s going to happen, Carolyn Pittis, the senior vice president of global author services at HarperCollins, told a packed room of students several days into the course. So it’s very exciting for those of us who spent many years when a lot of things didn’t happen.