Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Questionless Books Interview: Kobo Guru Michael Tamblyn

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The Questionless Books Interview: Kobo Guru Michael Tamblyn

In The Questionless Books Interview, I get a whole bunch of books people (from authors to editors to publishers to sales/publicity/production people, booksellers, designers, librarians, readers, etc) to "answer" a series of unspoken "questions". The results highlight a delightful mix of the opportunities and challenges facing our sector: from doom and gloom to sunshine and rainbows, and every irony in between.

Michael Tamblyn is the EVP Content, Sales & Merchandising at Kobo Inc. He's also a dad, reader, tool-maker, cook, bookseller, crossfit-er, start-upper, MBA-in-recovery, presentation jockey, and ace dishwasher.

Michael's Links:

Personal Site

I am... Michael Tamblyn

I am known to... sell eBooks and other digital goodness at Kobo.

I do this in... a state of relentless optimism.

I do this because... I have always loved the idea of my whole library, every book I have ever read or wanted to read, being always with me.

I do this when I... can't be forcibly restrained.

The way I do this is... begging, hustling, cajoling, pitching, massaging, negotiating, flying, occasionally spraying flame retardants, always moving faster.

At its core, a Writer is... self-contained.

As opposed to an Author, who is... only an Author if there is a Reader.

A Writer is responsible for... writing.

As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for... finishing.

At its core, Publishing is... a glorious, wreckage-strewn collision at the corner of Culture and Business, with bystanders saying "You wouldn't think anyone could survive that, but they did!"

As opposed to Editing, which is... midwifery with slightly less screaming.

A Publisher should always... know the market and ignore the market.

As opposed to an Editor, who should always... make sure the author stays fed.

A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is... never seen by a bookseller like me. Manuscripts of any kind, really. I think they're a myth.

As opposed to a Book that's ready to be read by others, which is... an incredible thing, to be celebrated with champagne, sky-writing, and small trophies.

A Manuscript should always... be double-spaced? Printed on edible paper? Again, I'm not certain about these manuscripts you speak of. I thought books sprung fully formed from the foreheads of authors resplendent with french flaps and gold embossing. Tell me more.

As opposed to a Book, which should always... be simultaneously released in digital format, supported by a robust search engine marketing campaign, social media and correct ONIX metadata. It would also help if it was beautifully written and people wanted to read it. Dream big, I always say.

At its core, Bookselling is... for Kobo, still the act of putting the right book in the hands of each individual, unique reader. But now that reader can be anywhere, both in their day (on a streetcar, in bed, trapped under something heavy) and in the world (Toronto or Yellowknife or Burkina Faso or Vanuatu). And that is a new kind of fantastic.

As opposed to Book Marketing, which is... a form of dark magic.

The smallest unit of narrative is... (oh please, hold me back from saying something completely corny here.)

To be a Book a thing must be... something begging to be picked up and read. Even if only by one person.

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is... in 2030, when Random House launches a Ballantine FanFic imprint. Or if is a zombie outbreak. Both would leave few survivors.

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is... for the first time in a few hundred years, we are thinking deeply about what else reading could be -- how could it be better, more enriching, more integrated into our lives and our relationships, more ubiquitous.

In the future we will all... have our whole reading lives always with us -- books read and unread, the history of where and when we read them, our notes and influences, who we recommended them to, their reactions -- all in our pocket all the time.

At his/her core, a Reader is... the point of this whole crazy exercise.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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