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Alumni in Action

The Business of Books: Alums Share Insights from the Publishing and Bookselling Industries

By Alumni Relations

December 9, 2022

Reading isn’t just a scholarly pursuit or leisure activity—it’s big business. According to Publishers Weekly, nearly 826 million print books were sold in 2021. However, with thousands of new titles hitting the market every week, matching the right book to the right reader—and getting it into their hands—is a challenge for publishers and booksellers alike.

That idea of “discoverability” was a key theme that emerged during The Business of Books, a virtual event hosted by the Wisconsin School of Business on Thursday, December 8. During the hour-long conversation, Business Badgers Patsy Tucker (BBA ’97), senior vice president of analytics and consumer insights at Penguin Random House, and Joanne Berg (MBA ’01), owner of Mystery to Me bookstore in Madison, discussed the joys of working with books while also dealing with the unpredictability that frequently comes along with the business.

“You have to appreciate that sometimes it’s not going to make sense,” says Tucker. “It’s just such a special industry and it’s a special product.”

Other topics included supply chain challenges, changing consumer tastes and trends, the impact of TikTok on the book industry, and much more.

“From the retail end of things, you’re constantly having to be nimble and creative,” says Berg. “Some things don’t work and you have to try something else. But it’s fun!”

Watch the full conversation above or on the Wisconsin School of Business YouTube page.