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Joseph J. Esposito

Senior Partner, Clarke & Esposito

Joe EspositoPlease tell us a bit about yourself (e.g. hometown, current locale, course of study).

I was born in Fort Lee, New Jersey, one river away from Manhattan, from which I take my bearings. I currently live just north of the city, in Hastings-on-Hudson, a small village in Westchester County. We have been here for five years, having moved back to the New York area from Silicon Valley. I studied literature and contemplated an academic career, but left a graduate program as I began to contemplate job prospects.

Describe some of your current responsibilities, and what type of organization you belong to.

I am Senior Partner at Clarke & Esposito, LLC. Michael Clarke and I have been working together (along with our other partner, Pam Harley) for three years and officially tied the knot the first of this year. Clarke & Esposito is a consulting company focusing on scholarly communications. Clients range from libraries to software companies to society publishers. My involvement is to work with clients to assess their needs and to propose solutions.

What was your first scholarly publishing role? How did you get that job? What path led to your current position?

My first formal role was as assistant editor at Rutgers University Press. I was in graduate school in Rutgers at the time, trying to pick up some extra money through freelance copy-editing. That led to a job offer and started me on my checkered career. As for how I came to do what I do now, there is no straight line; there was no plan. I rose as an executive in publishing companies, got involved with the sale of some companies, and increasingly began to work as an advisor.

If there was a pivotal moment or key person in your career development, please describe briefly.

I have been fortunate in attracting mentors–several over the years. It seems unfair to pick just one, but if I had to, I would point to the late Jeremiah Kaplan, the founder of Basic Books and later the CEO of the old Macmillan house. It was he who taught me the necessity of holding up editorial values against the pure business types that were entering the industry (and who now dominate).

What tools, web sites and organizations do you find most valuable for your career development?

None. I try to do everything face-to-face, and use the phone as a fallback. My entire career is about people. I am a sucker for smart people.

What are some of the surprises/obstacles that you’ve encountered during your career?

Early in my career I was surprised to see the role of mergers and acquisitions in publishing. Now I take that for granted and work in that area (among others). As for obstacles, well, that is bad psychology. Once you think there are obstacles, they exist.

What do you wish you knew more about?

Playing the piano.

What advice would you give to people interested in a career in scholarly communications?

Don’t look for a job. Start a company.

If you have a blog or personal/professional website, please provide a link.

Hah! That is easy: https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/