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Publishers Find Solitude, and Savings, in Open-Plan Offices

Publishers Find Solitude, and Savings, in Open-Plan Offices

Book publishing is experiencing the biggest business-culture upheaval since the invention of the printing press. Competition, slumping profits, and rising costs – including the cost of office space – have all contributed to belt tightening on a scale that the old-school expense-account private-office occupants have never seen before.

To reduce real estate costs, many publishers are turning to open office systems. Reading and writing, the basic activities of publishing, require privacy and quiet, something open-plan offices aren’t known for. But publishers seem to be making it work, using “pink noise” to cover distracting sounds, and providing small “quiet” rooms where employees can find silence. Editors’ book-filled “trophy cases” have migrated from private offices to an array of modern shelving in the conference room, where they still can impress visiting authors and agents.

Like open-plan workspaces themselves, the old business attitudes are proving to be flexible. One editor who was dead set against open-plan found that she changed her mind after touring an open-plan space, likening it to a college library during finals week. The New York Times has the full story:


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