Friday, August 31, 2012

A Little Q+A with Nicole Baxter and Connie Kuhnz: BookMobile

Bookmobile does a little bit(or a lot) of a lot of different things related to books. Besides their current jobs, they both have covered numerous other parts of the book world.

How long have you worked at Bookmobile and what book world positions did you previously have?

NB: I'm Manager of Marketing & Publisher Services at BookMobile and I've worked here for 14 years. Previously, I was at Hungry Mind Press, an intern at Milkweed, a bookseller at the Borders in Uptown Minneapolis, and a bunch of academic press and bookstore part-part-part time jobs in Bloomington, IN, where I went to college.

CK: I'm a production coordinator for the Bookmobile's Design and Publishing Services department. I've worked here for 6 years; previously employed as a bookseller at six different bookstores including Hungry Mind, and Rag and Bone Books, which was my husband's store. I've also worked as a key-liner/typesetter and as a proofreader.

How many books are published yearly by Bookmobile?

NB: BookMobile works with over 500 publishers and we print A LOT of books. In short, BookMobile provides: short run digital printing; automatic replenishment programs; true print-on-demand; Direct-to-Consumer services; eBook conversion; app development; website development; design and typesetting; content management; and eBook and print distribution.

CK: My department handles production for a variety of publishers including Milkweed Editions and Graywolf Press. Each publisher uses our services a bit differently, but we have a wealth to offer: cover and interior design, layout, distribution... We also convert and distribute eBooks and the company is now offering app and web development services.

If there is such a thing as a normal workday what does it look like?

NB: Me sitting at my desk and emailing all day. I get a lot of email. I do quotes, answer questions, track jobs through production, write blog entries (, and market our services. Oh and I look at Twitter a lot(@OkToPrint).

CK: On any given day I may be working on an interior text design for one book, laying out another, and entering corrections to the files for a third. I contact offset printers for pricing, send files back and forth between printers and publishers (lots of time on email), and try to keep schedules on track.

Are there times when, after working with books all day, relaxing with a book that night doesn't sound relaxing?

NB: Never, really! A long time ago I tried doing editorial work and I didn't like it. But I think I was born to do book production. I frequently forget my mother's birthday, but I'll remember a book title we printed three years ago.

CK: No, I always love reading; my work on laying out books doesn't allow for a beginning-to-end read, so often I'll get caught up in the drama of chapter 22, and have to go back and read the whole thing once the book is in print.

Technology is killing the book? Or helping more people have access to writing and publishing them?

NB: Absolutely not. I think it helps more people to have access to more books, and different books. I like all the small presses that have come about, because it's easier to get books out there. One of my favorite new presses is Atticus Books--they put out great fiction (and yes, we print them).

CK: It is definitely not killing the book, just adding more forms and more choice. So far book-as-object people have nothing to fear, and eBook readers can expect more selection. More writers are able to bypass traditional gatekeepers and have access to getting their work out there, for better or for worse. Print-on-demand may allow publishers to provide more and better content with their savings.

Silly dinner party question. Three writers, living or dead, that you get to dine with. Who are they?

NB:Lorrie Moore, Virginia Woolf, and Donald Barthelme. All at the same time please. Lorrie and Donald would cheer up Virginia.

CK: I have to skip this one, the idea is a bit overwhelming(maybe we could just do lunch?)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A little Q+A with Katie Dublinski: Associate Publisher at Graywolf Press

This is the first in a little series of pretty informal electronic discussions I've had with some local people. Her answers are in italics below. All kinds of Graywolf Press info is here

When did you start working at Graywolf? What was your initial position?

I started working at Graywolf in September 1997, as a part-time administrative assistant.

Do you remember the first GW book you read?

I took a class on the contemporary American short story in college, and my professor recommended the old Graywolf annuals (which weren't so old then). I remember checking Graywolf Annual 2: Short Stories by Women out of the library and browsing through it. I think that was probably the first. The first book Graywolf book I remember reading after starting at Graywolf was our reissue of William Maxwell's lovely book of essays, The Outermost Dream.

Is it harder or easier to edit a book you really love?

I think this has become less difficult for me over time and with experience.I know that I made some missteps early on when I was trying to edit books I loved - it was hard to see beyond the love. Luckily I had expert editors and generous mentors like our publisher Fiona McCrae and former executive editor Anne Czarniecki to watch and learn from.

If there is such a thing as a typical workday what does it look like?

There isn't really a typical workday, which is part of what makes my job fun. Some days I spend huge swaths of time on production projects - cleaning up manuscripts or page proofs after they've been reviewed by a copyeditor or proofreader and the author. Other times I get to spend a whole day at home reading and editing. More often the days are filled with meetings with my colleagues and with managing a lot little tasks, mostly via email.

I know you are a big fiction reader--what are 2 or 3 of your favorite novels(not GW titles)

Two long-time favorites are The Great Gatsby and Crossing to Safety.

How often do people say to you, "I've got this idea for a book..."

Not that often, actually, unless I'm in a situation like a conference where I've invited that kind of conversation. I feel like that used to happen to me a lot more. Now when people find out that I work in publishing they want to know what I think about ebooks and the future.

You travel to lots of other places for book shows/fairs. What's your favorite place you've visited?

Good question. I love traveling anywhere new, and most places are pretty interesting to visit at least once. I don't know if it's a new favorite, exactly, and this probably isn't an answer you were expecting, but I went to Detroit for the first time last summer, for a conference, and was completely fascinated. The arts scene there is tight knit and energized (and energizing), and I found the streetscapes beautiful and haunting. The city surprised me. In some odd way, it reminded me of Berlin, which is probably my favorite place that I've been on Graywolf business. They're places that don't hide all their scars, and where interesting and unpredictable things seem to be happening. I'd like to go back to both.

And I always like visiting New York, for all of the obvious reasons related to books. And food.

Is most of your communication with authors now done over e-mail? How has that(or has not) changed the relationship?

A lot of the more day-to-day communication happens via email, but for me the primary editorial work usually happens via pencil on paper and editorial letters. I don't really know how email has changed the relationship, to be honest. I end up talking to most of our authors - even if I'm just managing production and art direction for their books, not actually their editor - on the phone at some point in the process.

What is one thing you do for work, with some regularity, that you never would have guessed you'd be doing?

I never in a million years would have pictured myself going to the book fairs in Frankfurt and London as a rights director and pitching books to foreign editors. And, not only that, actually preferring that role to being an editor on the receiving end of the pitch. I also never thought I'd read manuscripts on an e-reader.