By Marian Schembari, Contributing Editor, Digital Book World
My experiences with books are almost identical to those of most book lovers who dare to pursue a job in publishing: Helping my dad turn the pages of whichever picture book was that evening’s must-read-five-hundred-times-or-else-I-couldn’t-possibly-fall-asleep-Daddy…
Curling up with my favorite Roald Dahl… Counting down the days until the next Harry Potter and then waiting in line at midnight so I’d be the first of my friends to read it… My relationships with books have always stemmed not just from the story itself, but from what the physical book represented during a point in my life. Books are powerful and we all know and recognize and love that.
Except I’d kill for a Kindle.
The longer I’m in publishing, the more I realize there are two sides to this so-called digital revolution. First, there are the innovative techies with an eye for digital marketing. These are the cold-hearted hotshots who don’t swoon at the smell of books, hate libraries and get their kicks by drowning puppies. Then there are the editors who have been in the business for decades – those who are resistant to change and have an eerie resemblance to that dusty book they so passionately defend. They also smell like your grandmother’s house.
Except the thing is, I have yet to meet anyone who actually resembles either of these stereotypes. No one gets into publishing unless they love the smell of books and unless they, too, are defined by what they read as a child. You couldn’t possibly succeed in this business without an almost unhealthy love of the written word. But the time has officially arrived where you can’t succeed unless you’re also an innovative hotshot. It’s these people, the in-betweeners, who are going to figure out a new publishing model, not content with maintaining the currently precarious balance between robot and dinosaur.
Ami Greko said it best: “Instead of wondering how we can adapt an older model to suit new technology, maybe we should think about what getting a book signed represents to a consumer, and see if there’s a way an ereader could make it better.”
Honestly. I really couldn’t say it better.
As for who I am and why the hell you should care, I essentially forced myself into this industry. Because – of course – nobody is hiring, my dream of working in publishing kind of fell flat on its ass. And since I usually don’t take no for an answer, I used social media, tools that are already playing a critical part in every industry, to get hired. Three months of traditional book PR later and now I’m a freelance “specialist” in social media for authors, publishers and newspapers; aka someone who knows how to work a computer. Kind of like Superwoman trying to save the world.
Except here it’s an industry. One I absolutely refuse to believe is dying.
Marian Schembari digs social media and books. Usually at the same time.