Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
When I first started at Digital Book World nearly seven months ago, Matt Mullin (our great community manager who has since moved on to Barnes & Noble) gave me a list of questions he liked to ask publishing people when he talked to them.
To me, someone who had spent little time interacting with folks in the book publishing community at that point, this was gold.
In the months that have passed, I’ve learned a lot and probably don’t need a crib sheet to get me through an interview. But one of Matt’s questions really stuck with me and I use it in almost every interview I do:
What are you reading and on what platform?
Seems a bit silly, almost like a throw-away question, a fun thing to end an interview on. But the more I think about it and the more I ask people about it, I think it really matters. It gives you some insight into the person.
For instance, Smashwords founder and CEO Mark Coker said in an interview we published this week that he hardly has time to read anymore. He took some flak for that on blogs, in the comments and on Twitter.
Dominique Raccah, the publisher and CEO of Sourcebooks, revealed to me that ever since the first iPad came out in 2010, she does all her reading exclusively on it. Made me go, “hmmm.”
In that spirit, below are the best answers I’ve received to the question so far, verbatim, in the order in which they were received. When you’re done going through them, do me a favor and answer a question for me: What are you reading and on what platform?
“I just downloaded A Visit From the Goon Squad onto my Nook Color.”
— Molly Barton, global digital director at Penguin Group, November 15, 2011
“I don’t read print books. I’m reading The Marriage Plot on my iPad. I have not read a print book since 2008. Both my parents are in their seventies and both read all their books electronically.”
— Peter Balis, director of digital content sales at Wiley’s professional and trade division, November 22, 2011
“I actually read on all of them. I still prefer physical, to be honest. And I have a Kindle, a Nook and an iPad. We encourage our people to have all three. We buy them and share them around the company.
“For me, I read the Bible and Jesus Calling, it’s a great daily devotional. It’s written in first person. It’s been in the top one or two books in our business for the past two or three years.
“I also subscribe to magazines in both physical and digital.
“I read the Bible on the iPad, too.”
— Mark Schoenwald, president and CEO of Thomas Nelson, November 30, 2011
“I have all these devices and I read on them all because I like to see how the interface works on each one. With e-readers, my reading has quadrupled and I say this as someone who used to read a couple books a week.
“I’m halfway through the Steve Jobs biography, which I’m reading on my iPhone and iPad. I’m just finishing Slaughterhouse Five on my Nook. On my Fire, I loaded some books on there so I could play with it this coming weekend.
“And, on my bedside table, I have Miranda July’s short story collection, No One Belongs Here More Than You.”
— Maja Thomas, senior vice president of Hachette Digital, December 12, 2011
“I read 80% of my books on my tablet. I own all of the devices, but the one I enjoy most is reading on my iPad, except if I’m outside.
“I’ve been reading a lot of proposals, honestly. What I plan to read on my vacation is the new Jeffrey Eugenides book and the Steve Jobs book.”
— Ellen Archer, CEO of Hyperion, January 4, 2012
“I’ve been reading Clay Christenson because I spend a lot of my time working on what’s next. This guy looks at a lot of great innovators. It’s been fun to connect the dots with some of the things I’m seeing myself.
“I’ve just recently started Isaacson’s book on Steve Jobs. And I’ve had Unbroken, a novel about a guy that gets shot down in World War II survives in a POW camp, on my bed-side table for a year. It was one of the great books of last year that I haven’t gotten to.
“I really don’t enjoy reading on devices and I’m tethered to devices all day long. My preference is to put the device away and read with a physical book. I have both a Nook and an iPad, and when I’m traveling, lugging books around is a pain, so I’ve got both, but I have to tell you, as much as my business’s future is about digital, my heart still loves the physical, my senses love the physical.
“There’s kind of a continuum between everything physical and everything digital. Most of us exist on that continuum somewhere, whether we choose a digital or physical option is based on what we want, where we want it and how we want it. Depending on circumstances, those answers vary.”
— John Ingram, chairman of the board of Ingram Industries and Ingram Content Group, January 11, 2012
I am reading The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq. It’s very funny, very humane and I’m reading it on my Kindle app for iPad.
— Matt Cavnar, vice president of business development at Vook, January 20, 2012
“I just finished reading the Steve Jobs biography on my iPad. I’ve read it many times.”
— Nicholas Callaway, founder and chief content officer of Callaway Digital Arts, March 13, 2012
“An advanced reader copy called Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety, by Daniel Smith, in print.
“Electronically, Tom McGuane’s Driving on the Rim on my Kindle. I have one of everything [each e-reading device] for work purposes. I rotate around to check out the latest and greatest. I don’t have a dedicated device for anything.”
— Ellie Hirschhorn, chief digital officer of Simon & Schuster, March 23, 2012
“I am reading most of my books electronically. I just finished Case Histories by Kate Atkinson and I read it on a Kindle.”
— Deborah Forte, president of Scholastic Media, April 3, 2012
“I only read on iPad. I’m reading 11/22/63, Imagine: How Creativity Works and The Dovekeepers.”
— Dominique Raccah, publisher and CEO of Sourcebooks, April 23, 2012
“I don’t have time to read.
“One of the last e-books I read was The Art of War on my iPhone four or five months ago. I only get to read when I’m on vacation. And most of my recent vacations have been focused on writing, not reading.”
— Mark Coker, founder and CEO of Smashwords, May 8, 2012