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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Whose Books Get Published?: Individual Agency and the Business of Children's Publishing
by Roberts, Elaine Morris, Ed.D., University of Cincinnati, 2006, 265; 10857168
Abstract (Summary)

Many studies have examined the business of children's literature from an academic perspective. While the academic literature provides one view of the business aspects surrounding the production of children's books, it often fails to include the perspective of the individuals working in the industry, and espouses the view that people working within the corporate structure are unable to assert their individual agency as it relates to the publishing process. This qualitative study addresses the notion that when situated within an academic Discourse (Gee 1996), the individual voices of those working in the business of children's publishing are silenced.

Gee's (1996) notion of Discourse as a way in which we identify ourselves with distinct groups through “particular social roles that others will recognize” (p. 128), and how Discourses establish perspective and social position is foundational in this work. With his ideas in mind, 32 interviews were conducted over a one-year period with authors, illustrators, editors, publishers, and agents currently working in the field of children's publishing to establish their interpretations of the business Discourse surrounding children's publishing. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using a within-case approach that eventually gave way to cross case analysis, which yielded themes regarding individual roles within the publishing process; balancing financial responsibility with literary quality; balancing the multiple audiences for children's books; and personal connections to the creative process. When the themes were investigated and compared to one another, individual agency became an overarching theme.

Aiming to offer a unique look inside the business of children's publishing, this dissertation offers findings replete with the personal experiences, insights, beliefs, values, and ideas of people functioning within the business Discourse; the data allow the participants to clarify how their individual agency plays a role in the business of children's publishing. This project challenges and extends the current research and writing regarding the business of children's publishing from an academic perspective that excludes the business Discourse. In concurrence with Taxel (2002), this project demonstrates a joining of the two usually separate Discourses will offer a more complete picture of business of children's publishing.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Laine, Chester
School: University of Cincinnati
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 79/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education
Keywords: Children's literature, Children's publishing, Discourse, Individual agency, Publishing industry
Publication Number: 10857168
ISBN: 978-0-438-02282-9
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