Editorial April 2014

Merging into the Fast Lane

Photograph of Tom Radko

As former editorial director Fran Graf was shifting into the slow lane of retirement with her farewell in the February issue <http://www.cro3.org/content/51/06/952.full>, I was beginning my acceleration into the fast lane; my transition from Choice’s operations manager  to editorial director had officially begun, which meant Fran was preparing to toss her alarm clock while I was reaching for my stopwatch.

Handling responsibility is nothing new to my publishing career, though when I arrived at Choice ten years ago I made a conscious decision to minimize major administrative responsibilities I had shouldered for fifteen years as director of two university presses (Nevada and Wesleyan).  I was content to maintain a low profile while expanding my teaching responsibilities at a community college in the evenings and continuing my long stint as weekend editor of the Journal of Scholarly Publishing. I could not sit still for long, however, and quickly discovered about Choice what Fran so correctly fingered in her February editorial: “The support of my colleagues has made working at Choice a genuine pleasure, and is largely responsible for my long stint here.”  Her words could be my own.

As I progressed from publishing assistant to reviewer coordinator to publisher liaison to operations manager and now to editorial director, I have done so in a supportive environment that makes it pleasurable to come to work each morning.  There’s an inside joke at Choice that once someone is hired he never leaves, which speaks volumes about the favorable conditions in which we all toil.  The last eight months, while still pleasurable, have brought significant change to our operation.  Some of these changes relate to personnel (the arrival of a new, creative, and dynamic publisher, Mark Cummings; the retirement of Fran—beloved by all who worked with her during her thirty years at Choice), while others relate to new technology and an ever-changing work flow within the office (a revamped publishing system; a new version of Choice Reviews Online; and an exploration of new business initiatives).  It’s an honor to be asked to serve as editorial director as we navigate our way through this era of diminishing institutional support for libraries and publishers, the growing agenda-setting power of large technology organizations, and the sheer, unrelenting pace of change.

Most gratefully, I am inheriting a strong, capable editorial team comprising five subject editors (six if you count me as business and economics editor), two copy editors, and a handful of outside contractors— all of whom I have worked with for many years. Our collective charge is to ensure that materials published are of the highest quality, relevant to subscribers’ needs, and released in a timely fashion.  The deadlines are relentless, the pace is faster than the one I was accustomed to in book publishing, and the number of pieces that go into creating Choice is nothing short of astounding.  Yes, these are heady times, but my forty years in publishing—thirty of those in book publishing—have prepared me for this moment as I merge into the fast lane.  From this unique vantage point, I look forward to seeing where this journey takes me.—TRR