Publishing Talks: David Wilk interviews Glenn Nano

glenn nanoIn this series of interviews, called Publishing Talks, I have been having conversations with both book industry professionals and others with interesting perspectives 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 hope these Publishing Talks conversations can help us understand the outlines of what is happening in, around and to the publishing industry, and how we might ourselves interact with and influence the future of publishing and culture as our interesting present unfolds into the future.

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.

Glenn Nano is a truly amazing guy I ran across first when he founded Code Meet Print, a “community at the intersection of texts + technology that will contemplate, define, and help build better interfaces for engagement, more relevant curators for discovery, and more useful marketplaces for dissemination of great writing and content to eager readers.”  And at Tools of Change this year in New York, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel called “Beyond Devices: Is The Real Value of eBooks Social Engagement?” on which Glenn appeared, and impressed me with his incisive and original thinking.

Evidently, Glenn is a serial entrepreneur who brings great ideas into being, or spurs them forward.  Aside from CodeMeetPrint, he also created Dictator Goods (you have to visit this site), was a principal at Centurion Venture Partners, and most recently engineered a very interesting start up called AnswerQi (“tech answers from real experts in real-time”, which I think is taking up most of his abundant energy for the moment.

As Glenn wrote in the introduction to Code Meet Print: “Words are finding new modalities, and innovators across disciplines have begun to experiment with how technology might improve their creation, curation, and consumption.”  This sums up very nicely what so many people involved in writing, publishing and reading are trying to understand right now.

I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to talk with Glenn about his views of the current state of publishing, storytelling and writing, and his views about where we are headed.  I think you will find this conversation to be among the most interesting on these now well-worn subjects that you will hear or read.  Glenn thinks about the digital present in a way that I think alot of people whose roots are in traditional publishing simply do not natively understand.  So there is always something for us to learn from what he has to say.

Alert to listeners, we were having alot of fun talking, so this interview runs longer than usual at 46 minutes.                                                                                        global_22005223

Publishing Talks: David Wilk interviews Liate Stehlik

In this series of interviews, called Publishing Talks, I talk 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.  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 hope these Publishing Talks conversations will help us better understand the outlines of what is happening in publishing, books and reading culture, and how we can ourselves both understand and influence the future of books and reading.

Liate Stehlik appeared on a panel I moderated last winter for Digital Book World, and I was  very much impressed by her perceptive understanding of the evolving publishing landscape.  In her role as the Senior Vice President and Publisher of William Morrow/Harper Voyager/Avon Books division of HarperCollins, Liate oversees the digital-centric Avon Impulse imprint, giving her a unique experience base and outlook.  Avon Impulse is innovative publishing for authors and readers, and is a learning base for the company within which it operates.

I thought it would be interesting and enjoyable to talk to her about her views on the book business, past, present and future, and I think our conversation demonstrates that it was just that and more.  Avon Impulse represents a significant effort by a Big Six publisher, creating a chance to experiment and learn important and valuable lessons about digital books and readers, which can then be applied across the overall publishing enterprise.  Much of what Liate and her company has learned will doubtless be applicable to many others in publishing. I’ll welcome comments and reactions from listeners in all kinds of publishing.

Publishing Talks: David Wilk Interviews Carl Lennertz about World Book Night 2012

January 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Publishing History, PublishingTalks, The Future

In this series of interviews, called Publishing Talks, I talk 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.  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 hope these Publishing Talks conversations will help us better understand the outlines of what is happening in publishing, books and reading culture, and how we can ourselves both understand and influence the future of books and reading.

Carl Lennertz has got himself a dream job, as he was happy to tell me when we talked.  Carl is the Director of World Book Night in the United States.  World Book Night originated in the U.K. in 2011 and has quickly grabbed the imagination of book lovers there and in this country as well.  Thousands of people will go into their communities on April 23, 2012 to give specially printed books away to potential readers.  The idea is to enlist volunteers – many are needed – so if you are interested, go to the website (now!) to register.  Even if you miss the 2012 deadline, you will want to participate in the future.

World Book Night is a great idea, supported now by Ingram Book Company in the United States as well as a number of terrific publishers.  A total of thirty excellent books (see the list here) were selected and will be printed in special editions of 20,000 copies each.  Libraries are signing up to participate, along with booksellers, and writers themselves.  Carl is blogging about the whole thing on a regular basis too, visit regularly or subscribe to keep up with all the many events and doings around the country.  This is a great project – we need more book readers in America, where we have far too many non-readers for the good of the nation.

Carl is a terrific person to have this job.  His enthusiasm and dedication is just what this project needs.  Please listen to our conversation about World Book Night, and do what you can to support this effort.

Publishing Talks: David Wilk interviews Miral Sattar about BiblioCrunch

In this series of interviews, called Publishing Talks, I talk 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.  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 hope these Publishing Talks conversations will help us better understand the outlines of what is happening in publishing, books and reading culture, and how we can ourselves both understand and influence the future of books and reading.

Miral Sattar is a young serial entrepreneur with roots in the publishing business.  She is the Founder of Divanee.com and Weddings.Divanee.com and has worked in the media industry for 10 years.   Ms. Sattar is a contributor for Time, teaches entrepreneurial journalism sessions at CUNY, and has contributed to Metro and Jane Magazine. She graduated from Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, and recently earned an M.S. in Digital + Print Media.

In many ways Miral represents the future of the book business.  She’s had innovative and smart ideas for new products and new uses of digital technology to create new ways for readers and writers to interact.  Failing to gain any traction for her ideas within traditional publishing institutions, she set out on her own to build what she believes writers and readers want and need, a new and different publishing/reading platform called BiblioCrunch.   There’s alot to be interested in here if you are looking for ways that online publishing can be made simple.

From the BiblioCrunch.com website:

What is BiblioCrunch.com?
BiblioCrunch.com is a platform that empowers writers and publishers to create and market their own manuscripts, completed works, digital books and bookazines. Through our platform anyone – bloggers, authors, aspiring writers, students, writers, journalists, publishers – can share their stories.

•    You can create all your great books online through our easy interface in any format any eReader!
•    Once you’ve written all the chapters for your book you can either post it for FREE or start SELLING.
•    You can start SHARING your book via social media so others can download your book.
•    VOTE your book to the top by sharing it with all your friends.
•    Need to hire an EDITOR or DESIGNER? Why not connect with someone in the MEMBERS community to help edit your book and design an awesome cover.

Why use BiblioCrunch.com?
•    BiblioCrunch is the place for you to write, read, and distribute your favorite books in just a few steps.
•    Create virtual bookshelves, discover new books, connect with friends and learn more about your favorite books – all for free.
•    On BiblioCrunch.com you can connect with writers, publishers, readers, editors, copyeditors, and designers to create the best books.
•    We’re also cheaper than other services that take 30% of each book sold.

How can I share my books?
•    Each book has it’s own public download page that you can share on Twitter and Facebook.

Building tools that make it easy for people to publish their work and for readers to read it is really a publishing function.  As with many other sites, the idea here is that readers can decide for themselves what they want to read.  It will be interesting to see if, as some traditionally minded digerati have suggested, that the editorial or curatorial role will be needed, perhaps more than ever, but if so, my guess is that it will develop in different ways, based on the different understanding of the editorial function that today’s writers and readers have developed.

I wanted to talk to Miral about BiblioCrunch because I am always interested in new ideas and constructs, and also because I think the story she tells about the genesis and plans for this site will be instructive and valuable to others in the book universe.  And hopefully, her ideas might generate some additional thinking about how platforms, innovation and audiences for reading will develop in the near future. Creating a new publishing platform is no small feat, but the real challenge will be to attract readers and writers in significant numbers.  I’m hoping this site will succeed through innovation and creativity, as a healthy publishing ecosystem requires a wide variety of niches, large and small.

Hurricane Irene delays Writerscast posting

September 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Pipeline

Just like millions of other Americans we were hammered pretty hard by this hurricane, in our small Connecticut town 99% of homes lost power, and as of today, September 2, still more than 55% of homes are without power.  We got ours back last night, thankfully, but still do not have internet.  Without a good connection, posting interviews is painfully difficult.  I have several great interviews ready to post, next being with Dean Bakopoulos about his excellent novel My American Unhappiness.   I hope to have a new Publishing Talks interview posted by next week also.

Our other big news is that Livewriters, our book and author video site, had its best traffic month in August, surpassing 70,000 unique visitors.  We are posting ever more interesting interviews, readings and discussions with authors about their books there, plus featuring just about every book trailer there is.  And if you want to enjoy a lively literary blog experience, visit Livewires, a fresh look at the literary landscape.

During the storm, I had plenty of time to read (print books by candlelight and flashlight, ebooks with the device’s own light) and am looking forward to talking to the authors of quite a few wonderful books, including My Green Manifesto, Just Bill, Confronting Collapse, and Duet.

My best wishes to all who suffered in and after the storm, and condolences to all those who died in it.

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.

Nina Sankovitch: Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

June 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Non-Fiction, WritersCast

978-0061999840 – Harper – $23.99 – Hardcover (ebook version also available)

This is truly a wonderful book by an exceptional writer.  Nina Sankovitch was living a full, active life as an environmental lawyer, happily married with four children, when her beloved sister became ill with cancer and died far too young.  As she recounts in Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading, her initial response to her sister’s death was to “live her life double,” doing everything she could to try to make up for her terrible and painful loss.  After three frantic years she realized what she was doing was unsustainable.

Ironically, her apparent retreat from doing to experiencing through reading was in some ways no less radical.  Nina committed to reading a book a day for an entire year, no small commitment in itself, but further, she committed herself to writing a review or think piece about every book she read.  That is a very high bar to set for any modern parent, even with a patient and understanding family (when I started Writerscast, I committed myself to read at least one book each week and to interview its author, a far lesser commitment, and after two years of doing it, I know how difficult, even impossible it would be for me to read a book a day, for a short period of time, much less a full year).

But Nina turned to reading because reading has always been central to her life and experience.  Her immigrant parents read and loved books, as did Nina, from an early age.  In Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, Nina tells the story of both her families, the vibrant one she grew up in, and the supportive and happy one she has raised.  Many of the books she read in her magical year of reading are discussed here, as the stories of these books are part of the weave of how she transformed her experience of death into a celebration of life.  And that is the crux of this memoir.  By leaving her own experience to enter the realms of literally hundreds of writers, and making a place for those other stories in her own life, Nina was able to recreate and restore her own psyche – that’s the magic, the alchemy, of her magical year.

I should mention that Nina lives near me and has become a valued friend, partly through books we’ve read and discussed, including a couple I gave her to read and which are included in her year of reading.  During that year she started an excellent blog called Read All Day where you can find all of her well written and exceptionally perceptive book reviews and essays.

Publishing Talks: David Wilk interviews Phil Ollila

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 hope 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.

Philip Ollila (widely known as Phil in the book industry) is the Chief Content Officer of Ingram Content Group Inc., one of the largest distributors of book content and providers of digital printing in the North American book industry.  Phil is responsible for Ingram Content Group’s publisher facing business, and has been instrumental in leading the transformation of Ingram from a traditional wholesale service provider, into what is now a fully integrated solutions company for clients. Ingram combines wholesale distribution, print-on-demand, digital distribution, inventory management and comprehensive worldwide services for both physical and digital content.

Phil leads a number of Ingram business units including wholesale merchandising, Lightning Source, Ingram Publisher Services and digital distribution through CoreSource® and also heads up Ingram Content Group marketing.  Before joining Ingram, where he has held several leadership positions, he was Vice President of Marketing and Merchandising for Borders.

Anyone in the book business, and many people outside it know about Ingram.  It is one of the two large book wholesalers transitioning from a key role in the physical supply chain between publishers and retailers.  Perhaps earlier than any other large company in the industry, Ingram had the foresight to invest in a range of services that would enhance their offerings to both their suppliers (mainly publishers) and their customers (bookstores, libraries and many other retailers).  In many ways, it is only the two large former traditional wholesalers, Ingram and its competitor Baker & Taylor that have the unique perspective and ability to act as really powerful and influential transformative agencies as the book business evolves into a combination of print and digital products.

Phil Ollila is therefore now in a key role at a tremendously interesting and  fast moving business that possesses a great deal of information valuable to publishers and to anyone interested in how publishing, books and readers will interact in the future, both near term and much, much farther into the future.

Read All Day

February 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Pipeline

Nina Sankovitch has been an inspiration for me.  From October 2008 to October 2009 she read a book a day and wrote about it (intelligently and cogently) at her website ReadAllDay.  Here’s what she says about why she did it: “I began my year in an effort to come to terms with the tragic death of my oldest sister, Anne-Marie, and to find purpose and meaning in my life. I called my year of reading The 365 Project.”

I’ve sent her some books to read and she has given me lots of suggestions for books I have read, and in some cases then interviewed authors for Writerscast.  We’ve liked some of the same books, but judging from her site, she and I have very different reading interests.  Knowing that has helped me choose some new directions, which I think is a great way to keep from falling into a reading rut.

Meanwhile, Nina’s year of reading adventure was discovered and written about by the New York Times and a number of other media outlets, and she even got a book deal.  Her book is called Tolstoy and the Magic Chair: My year of magical reading will be published in June by Harper.  I certainly plan to read it and interview her about it too.  I’m jealous and dumbstruck with admiration for what she has done.

Anyway, the reason I am writing about Nina is because she has launched a redesigned website that I think is worth a visit.  She is continuing to read and write reviews about books of all sizes and shapes – not every day of course, but more books than most people can read and write about intelligently.  Here’s how she does it:

HOW TO READ All DAY
Always have a book with you.
Read while waiting.
Read while eating.
Read while exercising.
Read before bed.
Read before getting out of bed.
Read instead of updating FB.
Read instead of watching TV.
Read instead of vacuuming.
Read while vacuuming.
Read with a book group.
Read with your kid.
Read with your cat.
Read to your dog.
Read on a schedule.
Always have a book with you.

Thank you Nina!

Corinne Demas reading from “The Writing Circle”

January 19, 2011 by  
Filed under AuthorsVoices

978-1401341145 – Hardcover – Hyperion – $23.99 (e-book edition available $11.99)

Writerscast is proud to present the fourth in a series of authors reading from their work, called AuthorsVoices.   I hope you will agree that hearing these works read aloud by the original authors adds to your experience of the writing.

I definitely enjoyed reading this novel quite a bit.  Corinne Demas is a very fine writer.  I think the word that comes to mind for me is “deft.”  There are a number of characters here, all of whom are important, and the way the story is told reminded me of an ever tightening spiral, as we start from the seeming mundane outside and move ever closer into the lives of these people around a series of events that provides the structure of the book.  This is a very well put together novel.

Corinne Demas is a talented and accomplished writer – she’s written adult novels, short stories, children’s picture books and chapter books, a play and she writes poetry as well.  In addition, she teaches full time at Mt. Holyoke.

This selection from The Writing Circle should give listeners a good sense of the writing of a book I’ve been enthusiastic about recommending to readers.  My recent interview with Corinne is here at Writerscast.  And Corinne’s own website will tell you much more about her and her excellent body of work.

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