I have spent most of my life reading and writing. I've spent my entire professional life working at digital agencies. There is a congruence here that I've tried very hard, for most of my life, to ignore. Or keep at bay. I'd felt for so long that my marketing strategy, digital agency life had so little to do with my writerly, readerly, let's study meta-themes and discuss Proust until we're blue in the face life that I worked overtime to keep them separate.
I was wrong.
They are inextricably linked (most notably because both parts exist within me and it's been hell trying to keep the two separate all these years) now because of the ever-shifting world of publishing in the age of digital. I can't tell you what a relief it is to see that external forces now match my interior state. I can now set aside my George Costanza-esque need to keep my agency friends separate from my literary friends. To keep my thoughts on marketing authors quiet, my desire to develop "social reading" tech solutions unknown, my obsession with geolocation and the impact it might have on hyper-local reading patterns a secret. I can finally talk about books with my tech friends and marketing strategy with my publisher friends and no one gives me crazy looks. I'm freeeeee....
The road ahead for authors and publishers and readers and booksellers and libraries and kids who can't read has gotten better and murkier and worse and clearer all at once. There are so many tools and communities and technologies that have furthered the cause of reading and have extended the reach of independent publishers and their authors. Yet, these are also difficult times for authors to get paid what they deserve, digital rights management being what it is, big publishers being who they are, the structure being what it is. You know the drill.
I haven't been able to absorb it all and make sense of it yet. None of the big, lofty ideas swirling in my head over the past few months have coalesced into anything tangible, into anything valuable that will solve these problems or even some of them or even one of them. But at the beginning of every day and at the end of each long night...this is the big problem I come back to. This is one of the big ideas I want to meditate on, tease apart, figure out.
Call me idealistic, call me crazy, call me whatever you will: I believe reading changes lives and perspectives and prejudices and communities and nation's futures. I believe everyone has a right to learn how to read and I believe everyone should have access to every book they desire so they can dream big and change the world they live in...whether that's a room away, a street away, a block away, a town away, a country away, a world away.
I don't yet know what the solutions look like to these problems and I know I'm not the only one who wants to solve them. What I do know is this: I am now certain that part of the reason I'm here is to help figure this out in whatever capacity I'm able, in whatever way I'm needed.
My big fancy dream is to find a way to have all this brilliant technology and the social web (and whatever else we've yet to discover and coin) do the one thing I care about most: get more people to read. Who's with me?