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Literary La-La Land

April 24, 2005|Judith Regan | Judith Regan is the president of ReganMedia and the president and publisher of ReganBooks.

You don't have to be in New York anymore. That was the decision I finally made.

When I graduated from Vassar in 1975, you had to be in New York. This is where publishing was, and the news business, and Lincoln Center and the Met, and I was entranced by it all. It was the cultural capital of the world, a place where the young could afford to live out their ideas before bringing them to market.

But things have changed. New York still has energy, but today it feels less creative, more aggressive and acquisitive. It's increasingly a town of billionaire bankers, million-dollar one-bedroom apartments and relentless stress. If the pulse of Washington is driven by power, the pulse of New York is driven by money.

The heartbeat of Los Angeles, on the other hand, is driven by creativity. A few years ago, I realized that some of the happiest times in my life were my visits to L.A. I've always been attracted by the great American dream of going West and inventing yourself anew. And L.A. is filled with creative people who've come there to make their dreams reality -- including performers, directors, designers, chefs, stylists and, of course, writers. More than a third of the authors on the ReganBooks list come from the West Coast -- recently published authors as diverse as a journalist, novelist, designer, historian, neuroscientist, master chef and architect.

That's why, as I announced recently, we're moving ReganBooks to Los Angeles. It's a global world now. With the technology we have today, we can work anywhere. So why not make our home in a place that's brimming with accomplished people who have the luxury of living in beautiful surroundings. I want my staff to be happy, to live in more affordable homes, to be able to raise their kids without permanently mortgaging their quality of life. To people whose whole lives are invested in New York -- who are held there by a fear of changing jobs, or losing a rent-stabilized apartment -- such a change might seem unsettling.

So I wasn't surprised when our news was met with a few skeptical looks in the New York publishing world. There's a snobbery in New York about L.A. that I've never really understood -- after all, I love movies. I love TV. Don't we all? I also like the entertainment business and the people in it. I think we're all storytellers, and we've got a lot to learn from each other.

We've also got a lot to learn from what's happening on the Internet -- the bloggers and graphic designers and entrepreneurs who have been busy shaking up the old media hierarchies. These people are the future -- smart young people who love creating content and who know how to reach each other and share their ideas using every possible means, whether it's between hard covers, on the Web or on their cellphone screens. There are still talented people in New York who understand all that. But these days, with all the hassle and expense it takes to survive in that town, many of them are moving elsewhere.

So I thought we should change course for a while and build a creative community in a place where it's possible to afford just a little more time -- and space -- to rest and imagine.

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