FINDING NEW VOICES
DEFINING NEW GENRES
I’m a publisher. Which must mean I love books – right? And in many ways I suppose I do. Perhaps not that all consuming passion where I’d hammer Dustin Hoffman-style on the windows of the local library and whisk away cherished volumes, eloping for a happy lifetime of illicit page turning. But certainly where I’d have a number of ‘serious’ relationships with a good title or three…perhaps even move in together, put up shelves, conceive some novellas.
And it doesn’t matter whether I approach books as publisher or reader, that fascination, the curiosity, the excitement and anticipation, it is always there. Every book, every single one, they all have their appeal, even the horrifically unedited brain dumps crying out for a brave red pen. That’s the thing about books – they hold so much promise in their deceptively simple design. How could you not love them to bits?
But that got me thinking. Is it actually the books I love? We’re still debating, and will continue to debate for some time to come, the apparent threats to traditional books and publishing. I publish books, and there’s something particularly satisfying about knowing a reader has made a conscious decision to purchase a physical book, hold it in their hands, engage with it. But I also publish ebooks. Because I recognise that there are a growing number of readers who want to engage with titles digitally – and it will continue to grow rapidly. And as a reader I’m one of them. I still find myself wandering the few brave independent bookshops still plying their trade, wishing I could afford a suitcase full of new books. But I’ve also got a kindle and I read on that voraciously. And so do many others. Or their iPad. Or laptop. Or mobile.
But here’s the thing. Sometimes the most wonderful words aren’t found in book form. The best bits of publishing, the most effective ways to engage, may actually not be through books, or at least books alone. I adore the book as a concept….but it’s not the books I actually love. It’s the content. That’s what truly fascinates and excites me, it’s what engages me every single day and still has me coming back for more each bright new dawn. It is content that is constantly fresh and challenging and so full of promise. The book is a vehicle for delivering it. Admittedly a perfectly formed, rather beautiful vehicle – but it’s the content that matters.
That’s why Remember to Breathe was a wonderful first title to publish at Urbane. Because we didn’t just think about the book, we thought about the words, the story, the characters, the ideas, YOUR engagement as reader – and tried to deliver a selection of content that gave readers something beyond the book, that captured, if only partially, how exciting it can be to take a story and explore it in different forms. And that’s what I’m going to be focusing on as I develop Urbane Publications this year. Content. Gorgeous, thrilling content. Don’t worry, books will always be at the heart of it, but what are books except particularly wonderful ways of exploring content? And content can be found in so many amazing forms, it opens up so many possibilities for exploring ideas and creativity. Am I no longer a publisher if I don’t put content in a book? Are you no longer a reader if you don’t engage with content in book form? Of course not. The content matters, and books matter because they allow us a particularly effective way of embracing content. That’s why they’ll always exist – content demands it.
So, let’s look at that original question – do I love books? Books will always catch my eye, turn my head, tease me with their flirtatious covers and hidden promise of new knowledge. They will always remain the reason I want to pursue a life full of words and ideas and creativity. But it is content that won my heart, and it is content to which I will forever remain true. Now, if you’ll excuse me there’s a paperback on that shelf giving me the eye……