5 Questions with Susan Ruszala, President, NetGalley

Susan RuszalaSusan Ruszala is president of NetGalley, an innovative and easy-to-use online service for book publishers, reviewers, media, librarians, booksellers, bloggers and educators. NetGalley delivers digital galleys, often called advance reading copies, or ARCs, to professional readers and helps promote new and upcoming titles.

At Digital Book World 2016, Ruszala will be participating in a panel called “Women at the Intersection of Tech and Publishing.”

We recently spoke with Ruszala about what NetGalley is up to, what she will be speaking on during the panel, and what she finds most interesting about book publishing today.

What’s going on at NetGalley right now that you’re most excited about?

First, our upcoming launch in Germany. We’re working with a terrific partner in that market—Vorablasen, part of the Ullstein group—and the early reception has been incredibly positive. We launched the site in French last year and have been working in the UK and Australia for some time. It’s amazing to see how new markets improve our core application, and how NetGalley can influence the evolution of book publicity worldwide. In France, for example, we’re helping publishers to work much further ahead, even in the way metadata is distributed.

And second, the huge uptick in member activity in our core markets. The NetGalley member community is powerful, particularly the librarians and bloggers. One manifestation of that has been in the LibraryReads program, which has been enthusiastically embraced by members nominating through NetGalley.

Is there anything you guys have planned for the future that you can talk about?

Over the next year, our focus will continue to be around rolling out innovative and efficient ways for members to interact with and be introduced to new books. We’re exploring new ways to engage specialized communities, such as educators, and continuing to expand internationally. I’d like to see us point members to interesting and relevant editorial content from other members, and to connect different types of book advocates at a local level.

You wrote a piece for our recent white paper, “Viewpoints on Publishing’s Digital Transformation,” about the speed and direction of progress in publishing. What interests you most right now about where book publishing is?

What’s most interesting to me is maintaining the relevancy of reading in our culture—this is our mission as an industry. I don’t know anyone who wants their kids to play more Xbox, but many adults find it difficult to find time to read and are intimated by the overwhelming number of books available. I would like to see our industry grow its total addressable market dramatically.

At this year’s Digital Book World Conference, you’re part of the panel titled “Women at the Intersection of Tech and Publishing.” Can you give us a preview of some of the issues that might be discussed?

We’ll be talking about the biases against women who are seeking investment or working in the tech space, and offering advice and strategies based on our experiences. Women are often expected to be communal, nurturing and cooperative—characteristics that are essential in building a functional team and long-term business, but that are often perceived as being at odds with the shorter-term, results-driven nature of tech investment.

What’s also interesting to me are the ways in which women-led industries and companies have the potential to change the ways in which both men and women think about work. Home and life balance is one of the core values of our company, but so is operational excellence, profit and winning.

Our efforts ought to be in creating more opportunities for young women to be business leaders. For that to happen, more investment dollars need to flow into our industry, and that will only come when our market is interesting enough to investors. That has to happen when more readers find and engage with books and new types of book products.

Why should companies send their teams to Digital Book World?

As the show evolves, I’ve found it important to send younger or up-and-coming members of my team to DBW—and more of them each year. They inevitably come away with a list of practical actions and insights, both from the publishing veterans and experts from other industries who fill the program.

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