About a week ago, I wrapped up at my internship, and so while I didn’t get started on any big projects, I still had some interesting work to complete. One of my final projects was designing a draft of the Table of Contents for the Spring 2018 catalogue, a testament to how early selections are chosen; I’ve already put some of the titles down on my own reading list, as they look fascinating!
While I didn’t experience much of the more editorial side (I rarely did any work for the publication, though I did get to pick up an early copy every time one came out, which was a huge perk) I’ve learned even more than I knew I would. I have learned so much about literature from people I wouldn’t have learned about in academic settings; some of my new favorite authors now are people I’ve been introduced to through my work at NYRB, such as Elaine Dundy and Elizabeth Hardwick (both of whom I’ve been recommending to all of my friends).
Though I’ve been thinking about being in the book publishing world for years, it never occurred to me how similar it is to archival research and presentation of history. That is, there are choices made at every single level of this industry that might seem small, but greatly affect the literary canon and contemporary discussions of literature, especially at imprints like NYRB, which specializes in forgotten classics and translations of little-known works. There are choices made about which books are worth putting back into the public eye, even if they might be controversial or risky in some way. Then there are choices made about who to send advance copies to, who to approach for introductions and afterwords, who to sell to, how best to market them, which books deserve release events — the list goes on and on, and these choices are related to accessibility of resources and education, something I’m highly interested in. While I’m still not sure whether I will go into book publishing or work at something else for a while first, I’ve definitely learned a lot that will be applicable to any field go into. And I definitely plan to maintain a relationship with some of the people I’ve worked with; I’m already planning to ask for review copies of a few works coming out soon while I’m still the book review editor at the Michigan Daily! I have loved my experiences at NYRB and would absolutely recommend the experience to anyone interested in working in the literary world.