By Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Chief Executive Optimist, Digital Book World
“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”
In the midst of one of the most disruptive transitions the modern publishing industry has ever experienced, it can be easy to give in to pessimism, fall in with doom-saying pundits and short-term gamblers, and forget why you thought working in publishing was ever a good idea to begin with.
For most people in publishing, the love of books runs deep. Not solely focused on the printed book, either, but a passion for the stories they contain (and the authors who created them), and an excitement for the myriad new opportunities to share those stories with more readers via more mediums than ever before imagined.
Because I’m a firm believer in surrounding one’s self with smart, optimistic people, I asked several colleagues who I think are doing interesting, innovative things in and related to publishing to answer one simple question:
I’m excited about books because…?
“Because learning (and as a result, books) is at the heart of human consciousness and experience. Books connect us to the world. That’s the BIG picture, but ultimately finding and reading books is fun and the internet, despite all the doom and gloom talk, has made publishing more fun, more open and expansive. The web is bringing more people into the publishing process, redefining what publishing means and giving everybody new tools to write, publish and sell them. So what’s not to like? It’s a great time to be in book publishing, despite the fact that everything is changing.”
–Calvin Reid, Senior News Editor, Publishers Weekly
“I’m excited about books because, bottom-line, books still change lives. They’ve changed and enhanced my own life over and over. I’m excited because I work in a place where I get to dream up new ways for authors to connect with readers AND earn money–and gain more readers in the process. I’m excited because the direct pathways to the readers are opening up and I can’t wait to see where this might lead us. I’m really optimistic about getting authors out of a siloed environment and putting more choices in their hands to build their careers–whether they are traditionally published or doing it on their own. Bring on the choices for authors!”
–Mary Ann Naples, VP, Development, OpenSky
“I’m excited about books because they continue to connect me to the most important people in my life. The experience of reading, while solitary in nature, has proven to be the most enduring activity in my life, and it has introduced me to most of the amazing people I know (And no, I’m not talking about characters in novels!). The form may change, I may discover them in different ways, but stories — narratives — continue to be endlessly fascinating to me, and apparently to the people I know, too.”
–Patrick Brown, Community Manager, Goodreads
“I’ve been able to maintain my decades long enthusiasm for publishing because at heart, I’m a book nut who likes nothing more than to escape into the isolation of someone’s ideas, and art. I also happen to love to talk about books — so if you combine these two obsessions with the way the world has evolved, it actually makes sense that my love of books has only deepened over the years. I can now read my books in more places and more easily than ever before (I like my books anywhere I can get them, from print to iPad or iPhone) — and I can tap into conversations about the books I’m reading, online, at any time.”
–Debbie Stier, Director, Digital Marketing, HarperCollins
“I am excited about books because it is still one of the best ways to engage the audience in a personal experience. Whether you’re reading a physical book on the beach during a nice vacation, curled up with your eReader on the couch after a long day at work, or even reading on your computer while you’re waiting for your Twitter to update, people still love the power of getting lost in a good read. Powerful prose transcends all media.”
–Eddy Webb, World of Darkness Developer, CCP North America | White Wolf Publishing
“I’m excited about books because they’ve changed my life for the better, repeatedly; and because they keep surprising me, especially when I think that’s no longer possible; and because the community I have found surrounding them is like no other. Also, they’re purty.”
–Stephanie Anderson, Manager, WORD Brooklyn
“Because books are still the most valuable commodities we have. Because books can transport you to a different world, or change your own perception of the one you live in. Because the notion of ‘getting lost in a good book’ transcends time, generation, and even the page itself.”
–Jason Pinter, Bestselling author and Literary Agent, Waxman Literary Agency
“…they’re the most powerful social and cultural currency we possess.”
–Richard Nash, Founder, Cursor
To those great comments, I add my own dash of optimism, taken from an interview with Sue Lange, a member of the exciting authors collective Book View Cafe, which itself is yet another reason for optimism:
More people are reading more than ever before, in more formats than ever before imagined.
How is that not a good thing?
What about you?
How do you answer the question: “I’m excited about books because…?”
Comment here or tweet your answer with the #whybooks hashtag.
Guy LeCharles Gonzalez is a published poet and writer, and active blogger since 2003. In 1998, he founded and led a thriving poetry slam community in NYC (a little bit louder) that has since evolved into the non-profit literary arts organization, louderARTS. An old and new media pragmatist, social media realist, and marketing strategist, he views publishing as a community service, and is optimistic about its future.