David Wilk interviews Jess Brallier

JessBrallier for DavidPublishing Talks began as a series of conversations with book industry professionals and others involved in media and technology about the future of publishing, books, and culture. As we continue to experience disruption and change in all media businesses, I’ve been talking with some of the people involved in our industry about how publishing might evolve as our culture is affected by technology and the larger context of civilization and economics.

I’ve now expanded the series to include conversations that go beyond the future of publishing. I’ve talked with editors and publishers who have been innovators and leaders in independent publishing in the past and into the present, and continue to explore the ebb and flow of writing, books, and publishing in all sorts of forms and formats, as change continues to be the one constant we can count on.

Jess Brallier is one of those interesting, experienced innovators in publishing with whom I enjoy talking about all sorts of book related subjects. He’s worked in adult trade publishing, but has also had significant success with children’s and YA books, has long been involved in digital technologies, and notably was instrumental in the creation of the wildly best selling Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. And he is a prolific book writer himself, as well. His vast experience has provided him with a unique perspective about books and publishing, and he is just the kind of person who makes this interview series interesting and fun for me to do.

Here’s the more or less “official” biography Jess sent me: Jess M. Brallier currently serves the publishing industry as a media and revenue agnostic consultant to small, mid, and large publishing houses, and a developer of original IP, both print and animated. His career spans th51165675e publishing of books and digital storytelling from brick-and-mortar and the web, to virtual worlds and social media. He had his own children’s imprint, Planet Dexter (Penguin) and used the web to establish and launch newly $800M in original IP (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, Poptropica, Galactic Hot Dogs, etc.)

He also worked closely with, and was essential to causing bestsellers for, Norman Mailer, William Manchester, William Least Heat Moon, Herman Wouk, William Shirer, Bailey White, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and many others. Brallier is a frequent speaker at both digital and book industry conferences, has served on the faculty of university-based publishing programs, and is the author or co-author of over 30 adult and children’s books.

I hope you enjoy listening to Jess as much as I did.

And not too long at 41 minutes, in case you were wondering.eIavBAAAQBAJ

Publishing Talks: David Wilk interviews Kate Wilson

In this ongoing series of interviews, called Publishing Talks, I have been talking to book industry professionals and other smart people about the future of publishing, books, and culture.  This is a period of disruption and change for all media businesses.  We must wonder now, how will publishing evolve as our culture is affected by technology, climate change, population density, and the ebb and flow of civilization and  economics?

I believe that these Publishing Talks conversations can help us understand the outlines of what is happening in the publishing industry, and how we might ourselves interact with and influence the future of publishing as it unfolds.

These interviews give people in and around the book business a chance to talk openly about ideas and concerns that are often only talked about “around the water cooler,” at industry conventions and events, and in emails between friends and they give people inside and outside the book industry a chance to hear first hand some of the most interesting and challenging thoughts, ideas and concepts being discussed by people in the book business.

I was recently introduced to the apps and books created by the new UK based children’s publisher Nosy Crow.  I bought their first app, the Three Little Pigs and immediately understood that this company had a vision and an approach that made sense to me.  Here is the message from their website that caught my attention right way:

“We make innovative, multimedia, highly interactive apps for tablets, smart phones and other touchscreen devices. These apps are not existing books squashed onto phones, but instead are specially created to take advantage of the devices to tell stories and provide information to children in new and engaging ways.”  Books too by the way.

When I finally got a chance to talk to company founder Kate Wilson, I found out right away why the company is so smart, and off to such a great start.  I believe that Kate deeply understands how technology and publishing can and will intersect for the creation of great experiences for children readers.  She has a vision, one that makes sense, and she has combined creativity with a keen sense of what parents and children want both from new technologies and from traditional books.  And her experience in publishing has taught her important lessons which she is now applying in this new publishing space (after attending Oxford University, she worked for a number of UK children’s publishers, including Macmillan Children’s and Scholastic UK, both of which she ran.  If you are interested in how children’s publishing is going to evolve, I suggest paying close attention to Nosy Crow, and of course listening to this conversation with Kate Wilson.

Publishing Talks: David Wilk interviews Rick Richter

In this series of interviews, called Publishing Talks, I have been talking to book industry professionals and other smart people about the future of publishing, books, and culture.  This is a period of disruption and change for all media businesses.  We must wonder now, how will publishing evolve as our culture is affected by technology, climate change, population density, and the ebb and flow of civilization and  economics?

I believe these Publishing Talks conversations can help us understand the outlines of what is happening in the publishing industry, and how we might ourselves interact with and influence the future of publishing as it unfolds.

These interviews give people in and around the book business a chance to talk openly about ideas and concerns that are often only talked about “around the water cooler,” at industry conventions and events, and in emails between friends and they give people inside and outside the book industry a chance to hear first hand some of the most interesting and challenging thoughts, ideas and concepts being discussed by people in the book business.

I’ve known Rick Richter for a number of years.  He is smart, energetic and incredibly creative.  I am told he plays a mean guitar too.  He’s unusual in publishing for having been a leader in both sales and editorial, and for being at heart, an innovator and entrepreneur.  I have talked to him a number of times over the past couple of years about his thinking and ideas, and have been interested in his new venture, Ruckus Media since it was still a brainstorm generated idea.  Unlike many brainstormed ideas, this one has become real, and very quickly too.

Ruckus represents at least one budding trend in publishing for kids – which is to be born digital and to stay that way.  Print, ink and paper will be someone else’s job.  At a recent Digital Book World presentation, Rick’s signature statement about his new work was this: “books you can play with and games you can read.”

Rick is currently President, CEO, and Chair, Ruckus Media Group.  Previous to founding Ruckus, he was President and Publisher of the Simon & Schuster Children’s Division (1996 – 2008).  In 1990, Rick co-founded Candlewick Press, the prestigious children’s publisher based in Boston.

“The goal of Ruckus is to combine the most creative minds in children’s media with tremendously exciting new mobile devices. We’ll be satisfied when a mom or dad can hand their phone or tablet to their child without one ounce of guilt, knowing that the experience the child is about to have will entertain them, challenge them, perhaps make them giggle, and be utterly satisfying.” Beginning in May, Rick will be an adjunct professor at the NYU Master of Science Program in Publishing.

Rick and I had a great talk, not just about what he is doing at Ruckus to make change and create a new way of publishing for kids, but also about the future of digital publishing and much more.  Ruckus, along with a number of other new digital publishers are in the process of establishing new ways for children to experience books and reading in some very exciting ways.  And it looks like they are having alot of fun doing it.