America vs. The World (and Itself): Publishing in the Age of Globalization

Edward Nawotka (
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Europe in particular, has long been resistant to the perceived American corporate cultural imperialism of companies like Google, Apple and Now, with booksellers like Kobo and Barnes & Noble launching abroad and the aforementioned companies making even greater investments into Europe, Asia and Latin America, what has been the reaction?

That said, an anti-corporatist sentiment is growing in America as well, in particular among publishers and readers. Amazon is battling a wave of bad PR —they have become, in essence, the Voldemorte of the book business, the “company that cannot be named,” and the ultimate “frenemy.” Apple was investigated by the US government along with a host of publishers for possible “price collusion.” And Google, despite its promised to create the world’s biggest online library/bookstore and a partnership with independent bookstores, has failed to attract market share and users. Meanwhile Barnes & Noble, perviously seen as a thug and bully, is now being looked on as a possible savior for bookselling —both in America and possibly in the UK and beyond. While Kobo has positioned itself as a righteous “alternative” to Amazon.

Is, as the anti-corporatists suggest, this new breed of “technological imperialist” far more rapacious than previously publishers — after all several of the “Big Six” are owned by European companies? Have they loyalty to “culture” or the greater good? Profit and growth are the drivers the sole drivers? And if so, can they succeed overseas and on what terms.

Photo of Edward Nawotka

Edward Nawotka

Edward Nawotka has posed nude for a life-sized hologram, acted in Taiwanese karaoke videos and scripted an unproduced World Music series for MTV. He is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives, an online magazine for the international publishing industry that has been called “the BBC of the book world.”

Publishing Perspectives offers daily updates about the global book business, from Buenos Aires to Beijing, New York to New Delhi, and offers specialized publications covering the Spanish-language book market, Brazil, children’s book publishing, and the Frankfurt and London Book Fairs.

In his capacity as Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives, he has delivered keynote speeches and presentations to book fairs and professional conferences in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Colombia, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, and throughout the United States.

Ed has covered the book business since 2000, first as an editor for Publishers Weekly and then as a columnist for Bloomberg News. As a journalist he has reported from more than 30 countries, across Europe, Asia and Africa, covering topics ranging from politics and business, to culture and tourism. His reviews, essays and reporting appearing in The New Yorker, The International Herald Tribune, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Travel + Leisure, USA Today, People, the New Statesman, among other publications, at home and abroad.

Ed has also worked as a bookseller, literary magazine editor, book festival organizer, and advertising copywriter, first with Ogilvy & Mather in Dublin and then with J. Walter Thompson in Jakarta and Singapore.

Recently, he has served as a consultant to several organizations on the development of their digital publishing programs, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Kirkus Reviews and Dow Jones.

A member of the Advisory Council of the University of Texas Libraries, he helped establish the University of Texas Human Rights Documentation Initiative which digitizes and preserves the video, audio and documentary testimonies of the victims and perpetrators of human rights abuses. To date the archive has worked with the Kigali Memorial Center in Rwanda, the Guatemalan National Police, the Burma Free Rangers, and the Texas After Violence Project.
He holds degrees from Boston College, Columbia University and University College Dublin. He currently serves as a lecturer at the Yale University Publishing Course and regularly teaches seminars on literary history across the University of Texas system. He lives in Houston, Texas.


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