Digital Book World's Optimistic Pecha Kucha

The Bowery Poetry Club was the setting for last night's NYC 7x20x21 (a variation on the pecha kucha presentation format in which each speaker gets 7 minutes, 20 slides, 21 seconds per slide) hosted by Digital Book World's Guy LeCharles Gonzalez and Ami Greko, and the topic was publishing optimism.

First up was Stephanie Anderson, manager of WORD in Brooklyn, N.Y. (and our Namastechnology columnist). Rather than indulging her "business school side" by focusing on goals for the store, she decided "to start a basketball league for book nerds." More than 100 people signed up, and she ended up running the league. After all the work involved, Anderson concluded that "what will save us is fun": the players bonded with each other and with WORD. And Anderson still ended up meeting all her goals: 100 new customers, press mentions more than doubled and so did food bank donations. In closing, she asked the audience to consider: "What would you do if you could spend 10% of your workday doing something fun?"

Ryan Chapman of Farrar, Straus & Giroux next asked, "Who's emulating the rogue advertising team on Mad Men? Jane Friedman's Open Road? Richard Nash's Cursor?" His pick: Quirk Books, which mashed up content to create the hugely successful Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.'s Pablo Defendini predicted that books "will be around for a long time, as beautiful objects." And he urged "legacy publishers" to "embrace new technology" and "meet readers in a space they're already at."

Photographer Joshua Simpson showed striking images of MFA writing teachers and students, inspired by a Zoetrope story by Margo Rabb. "Photography's a medium that lets me get close in the way literature does," he said.

Visual artist Ward Sutton, Sutton Impact Studio, talked about how he came to do his popular visual book reviews, which are now posted at

Last up was Debbie Stier, associate publisher HarperStudio, director digital publishing, HarperCollins, who began with, "I've spent 22 years in book publishing [slide of Titanic sinking].... But I started thinking about what else I might want to do with my life." Her epiphany: "What I love to do is creating the book." She wound up "recommitting to my job, my industry, the future of book publishing."

She closed with a thought that captured the mood of the evening: "I believe in the magic of the book, and I love what I do."  --Robin Lenz


Powered by: Xtenit