Monday, September 15, 2014

On the digitizing of poetry

Alexandra Alter explains how various publishers and authors approach publishing poetry in the digital age. Fascinating!

Thursday, September 11, 2014
Open Road Media CEO Jane Friedman guest blogs for the National Coalition Against Censorship:
“It remains our privilege to digitally publish banned books, and I’m proud that Open Road is doing its part to provide readers all over the globe with access to these important works.”

Open Road Media CEO Jane Friedman guest blogs for the National Coalition Against Censorship:

It remains our privilege to digitally publish banned books, and I’m proud that Open Road is doing its part to provide readers all over the globe with access to these important works.”

Monday, August 25, 2014

Inside Publishing: Interview with Leily Kleinbard, Associate Managing Editor


How did you start your career in book publishing?

I began my publishing career in magazines, not books. Before Open Road, I worked at PEN American Center as associate editor of the then-biannual literary journal PEN America. While I was involved in all aspects of the journal, developing its contemporary poetry program and managing its print production were my main jams.

After a couple of years, I decided to give book publishing a go. I had a good amount of production experience, and the position of associate managing editor seemed like a good fit, so I applied to the opening at Open Road with the embarrassing subject line, “Your most promising applicant for associate managing editor!” (I’m pretty sure that’s why I was hired.) 

What is a managing editor responsible for at a digital book publisher? 

Managing editors are responsible for shepherding titles through production, from start to finish. It’s our job to communicate (and enforce!) production deadlines to the rest of the company, so we do a lot of liaising between departments. At any given moment, we have to be able to account for all of the moving parts of a title—the status of its interior, cover, copy, etc.  

At Open Road, we also have a solid understanding of the file conversion process, factoring in the production concerns unique to each title as we schedule its publication.

As managing editors at a digital book publisher, one should be comfortable with the technology and understand the functionality and the capabilities of each e-reader / device. Cookbooks, for example, tend to have a lot of complex formatting, so you need to know which design elements will translate well into digital. This is further complicated by the fact that iPads and Kindles have proprietary file types, each ebook rendering differently on its respective device; a reflowable cookbook won’t look the same on an iPad as it does on a Kindle. These are some of the considerations that go into preparing a book for conversion.

They are also extremely helpful when communicating expectations of the final product to the editors and authors.  

Which skills does a managing editor typically have? 

All of the obvious ones, like an acute attention to detail, being able to juggle multiple projects at once, and the ability to stay calm (and keep others calm, too) in the often stressful, always deadline-driven world of publishing.  

Perhaps less obvious is the ability to be highly organized and flexible / adaptable. I think managing editors are often seen as very regimented thinkers who aren’t quite keen on thinking outside the box. But you might be surprised by how much spontaneous and creative problem-solving we do every day. Each title has so many moving parts whose statuses are constantly changing. A good managing editor is someone who can create and enforce systems of organization that accommodate this kind of fluctuation.  

What does an average day for you entail?

I oversee production for Open Road Distribution clients. Like many people, I typically start my day with a to-do list (which quickly gets sidetracked as my inbox fills up with urgent questions and last-minute requests). Then I finagle outstanding assets from authors, agents, and partner publishers; perform quality assurance (QA) on ebook files; prepare files for conversion; and create production schedules for recently transmitted titles. All of which would be impossible without the holy grail of production, my weekly scheduling report. 

Do you have a favorite Open Road e-book? 

Fifty Contemporary Writers from Conjunctions magazine—it’s a great collection of recent fiction and poetry by a diverse group of authors. 

The Memory of Fire Trilogy by Eduardo Galeano has been one of my favorites since I read it for the first time in my Latin American literature course in high school. I was psyched when I found out that we were publishing the ebook editions here. 

And Arlene Sardine by Chris Raschka. Beautifully illustrated and somewhat sinister, it’s the story of a fish whose lifelong dream is to become a sardine, which—SPOILER ALERT—she achieves just a third of the way into the book!

What’s your favorite thing about Open Road?

First and foremost, my Publishing Operations team. There’s a lot of support, and I’m lucky to have such generous teammates.  Second, the atmosphere—there’s a lot of confidence here. You can feel it when you walk into the office. People are excited and optimistic; they believe in the future of ebooks and our stake in it. That’s no small feat for a publishing company. 

Do you have a favorite place to read?

In bed, beside my two cats. 

Do you have any advice for someone who is working in book publishing?

Don’t stop reading for pleasure! 

Bonus question: Do you have a favorite quote about reading or writing?

“A good book is an education of the heart.” —Susan Sontag

Editor’s note: Leily gets extra points for the photo of her on an open road!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
How could we *not* post this photo of our very own Emi Lotto, Associate Digital Production Editor at Open Road, sporting this colorful pencil dress!!!
Perfect for publishing!

How could we *not* post this photo of our very own Emi Lotto, Associate Digital Production Editor at Open Road, sporting this colorful pencil dress!!!

Perfect for publishing!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A classic battle of good vs. evil. Who will prevail? Prospero the wizard and Robert Bacon have their hands full in this genre-bending fantasy classic. Take a fantasy vacation with The Face in the Frost, and experience the magic for yourself.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Word from Jane Friedman on Sophie’s Choice

More than five years ago, the idea for Open Road was born when I couldn’t find a physical copy of William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice to buy for my son while visiting him in law school. Today, 35 years after it was first published, this iconic title landed at #1 on Amazon AND Barnes & Noble as an Open Road ebook.  

image  image

Back to the future, 


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Inside Publishing: Interview with Chai Dingari, Post-Production Manager


Producing and editing video are specific skills. How did you learn to do what you do?

I went to NYU for film school. Toward the end of your time there, you focus on what you want to do. You start out taking the same classes as everyone else during freshman and sophomore years: sound, visuals, and 16mm film. From then on, it gets specific: TV, documentary, cinematography. I focused on video editing and screenwriting. I took a lot of video editing classes in my sophomore and junior years. I learned a lot of the software, like FinalCut 7, and got the hang of that. I interned at Open Road during my junior year and learned a lot because it was very intensive work. In conjunction with my classes and the internship, it takes practice. You can’t learn everything from just watching tutorials and reading books about editing.

Did you like your film program?

Yes, I liked it a lot. I got to go abroad for my last year in London to [study] screenwriting with the Writers’ Guild. Overall, it was great. I was one of the last generations of that program to use the 16mm-film cameras–they got rid of them. They sold the film flatbed editing machines and film cameras the year after I left, and replaced them with all digital cameras. That class had the same exact curriculum from the ’60s from when Martin Scorsese took the same class.

In your opinion, what makes a good video?

It depends entirely on who the audience is. We make short documentary-style [videos] for our authors. The important thing is not to make them overtly commercial. They’re a way to connect with the audience, and each author has a different audience. Our literary readers are more likely to spend a few minutes getting to know an author’s writing process and hear any personal stories they might tell, whereas the romance and mystery pieces might require more of a story told through genre-specific B-roll. I think any good video has to make a personal connection.

Do you have a favorite video that you’ve worked on?

I loved working on the Canal House shoot in the Fall of 2013. It’s a beautiful place to film, and the food, which they thankfully let us taste when we were done with it, was delicious. I was also glad I got to edit the Pearl S. Buck profile piece, because my mother is a huge fan of The Good Earth and we read it together when I was younger.

What does your typical day entail?

On Mondays, we have a creative meeting where we brainstorm ideas for the videos that we’re working on as a team. Each person at any given time is working on a video. As a group, we’ll help brainstorm ideas with that person. Tuesdays, we have a meeting to plan out the next few weeks of shoots. My daily routine is working on: video editing, a video that’s in pre-production, or going out on a shoot. For example, last week we were in Rhode Island shooting with the author Robert Coover.

We spend the first day with our authors interviewing them in their houses. The second day is spent going to different parts of their town or places related to their books for some footage. Robert Coover used to teach at Brown University, so we did some filming on campus.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to do what you do?

I think the best thing that happened to me was doing an internship while I was in college and keeping in touch with people. It prepares you for leaving school. You form a great community when you’re in college, but it is a little bubble. I recommend leaving that bubble while you still have its safety to either look for part-time jobs in the industry that you want to be in, or internships that can help you. So you get the experience and the connections.

What’s your favorite thing about Open Road?

I like the culture here. It’s very laid-back. I like that Jane Friedman [the CEO] is pretty approachable.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. I’m on a Thomas Pynchon binge, so I’m going to read Gravity’s Rainbow next.

Do you have a favorite place to read?

I mostly read on transportation. I read on the L train every morning, but I think the best train to read on is on a longer ride. For example, the other day I took the A train all the way to the Rockaways. Either on a long train ride or on the beach.

Bonus question: Do you have a favorite quote about reading or writing?

“The essence of dramatic form is to let an idea come over people without it being plainly stated. When you say something directly, it’s simply not as potent as it is when you allow people to discover it for themselves.”

– Stanley Kubrick

Monday, June 30, 2014

Inside Publishing: Interview with Bruno Silva, Digital Asset Manager


Producing and editing video are specific skills. How did you learn to do what you do?

I got into editing at Pace University. I studied there for a couple of years, and then worked at a post-production company. Basically, I was editing local television ads, a few national spots, a lot of terrible reality television pilots. I left there and did freelance work for a year. I produced my first television spot and wrote a short film, This Modern Love. It’s named after a Bloc Party song.

How did you start at Open Road?

I was working at another post-production facility doing reality television shows, and I was dying to leave. I saw this position and applied. I have a history of asset management from my first job, so I spoke to Luke and Chai, and gave them an idea of what I wanted to do, in terms of managing media and the best processes for archiving. I started off strictly in a technical position, but now I’m doing a lot more.

In your opinion, what makes a good video?

What makes a good video is a really strong start. Our audience isn’t interested in watching long videos. It has to impress the audience in the first five or ten seconds to keep the viewer engaged.

For me, the story is always important–especially because we’re talking about writers. And visuals strengthen the story even further.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re looking forward to working on?

Two weeks ago, I interviewed Robert Coover in Providence, Rhode Island. We went to his house and Brown University. It’s my first project for Open Road that I’m entirely producing and editing. I’m going to start editing that next week. I’m really excited about it.

What does your typical day entail?

It varies, depending on my “job title” for that day. If I’m the Digital Asset Manager, then my job is to make sure all our footage is accounted for, organizing the archive properly. We have thousands of hours of footage and all sorts of files related to projects. It’s a huge library and it’s a great undertaking to maintain it. On a day like today, I get here at 9:30 a.m. and start editing to meet deadlines. Sometimes, we’ll also have a creative meeting in the morning to go over our weekly content. It’s mainly editing all day to make sure our post-production work is intact.

Do you have a favorite video that you’ve worked on?

I worked on a video called “Legal Thrillers.” I got creative with the sound design and visual effects. I think it came out great, and I’m really proud of it. Another video is “Remembering Stonewall.” It was an interview with our author Martin Duberman. I liked that piece because I learned a lot about the Stonewall riots and felt strongly about the narrative direction that I went with.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to do what you do?

Start early. I think you can easily get your hands on the software and tools that you need to start editing and making films. Watch a lot of movies, find your favorite directors and follow their work. Have someone that you can learn from­–a mentor, that’s really important. Just stay busy, stay working.

Since you mentioned it, what is your favorite movie? Who is your favorite director?

My favorite director is Woody Allen. My favorite movie of his is either Annie Hall or Bananas.

What’s your favorite thing about Open Road?

I like that Jane Friedman [the CEO] and the executives stress that they want us to present new ideas and thoughts.

In terms of my job, I’m allowed to be as creative as I want to be. If I want to experiment on a video, there’s no one that will say, “Don’t do that. That’s not the direction that we’re going in.” Obviously, I have to meet with my boss and the marketing team to get approval, but the opportunity is there. When you’re [working as] a creative person for a living, that’s all you could ask for.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading White Noise by Don DeLillo. It’s not something that I would normally read, but a good friend recommended it, and I’m enjoying it.

Do you have a favorite place to read?

I read on the train every day. It’s the only chance that I get to read that I have enough free time. If it’s a really good book, I’ll go out on my patio and read out there.

Bonus question: Do you have a favorite quote about reading or writing?

“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson 


Once upon a time, Julie Blattberg (my supervisor at Open Road Media, a digital book publisher) Tweeted me a link to the article “6 Signs Your Internship Is Worth Your Time.”

Then, I realized that I’ve been Tweeting internship-related things anyway, essentially documenting my experience at Open Road. Some are silly, but all are honest observations; my work here has definitely been worth my time:

(Examples include, but are not limited to: kittens, puppies, turtles, tea cup pigs, coffee…)



The following Tweets aren’t #InternPerks, but are purely for your amusement:


(This is what greeted me when I arrived one morning)

And lastly, here’s one of my #internworries:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Inside Publishing: Interview with Loreal Lingad, Marketing Intern


How did you find out about internship opportunities at Open Road Media?

Fordham College at Lincoln Center offers a class called Publishing Theory and Practice. Mary Bly teaches it. Each class, she brings in established professionals who work in the book and magazine publishing industries. She invited Julie Blattberg from Open Road to be on one of the panels. Later that week, Professor Bly told us about the Book Industry Guild’s event “Anything Is Possible on the Open Road” with Jane Friedman, its CEO, and she posted an internship opportunity on our class Tumblr. After hearing Jane Friedman and Julie Blattberg speak, I knew I wanted to apply.

What does your typical day as an intern look like?

I spend five minutes pestering Julie Blattberg in the morning (just kidding). After that, I make my way through a list of projects that she gives me. Sometimes she’ll send me more projects via email. They mostly pertain to researching and helping to produce drafts of social content posts for sites like BuzzFeed and Tumblr. Every now and then, someone from the marketing team will grab me for another task. 

What are some of the projects that you liked working on the most?

Can I say all of them? I haven’t disliked any of the projects.

Which project are you most proud of?

It’s a tie between the BuzzFeed posts I worked on and the “Inside Publishing” series of interviews for Tumblr, because of how much effort I’ve put into those projects. For BuzzFeed, I spent a lot of time researching the science fiction author Octavia Butler, bookish phone apps, and library cards, and going through rounds of edits with Julie and Erin, the marketing copyeditor. It’s kind of like working on a research paper with a professor or submitting work for a creative writing workshop. So seeing them go live is pretty rewarding. With the “Inside Publishing” series, I stepped out of my comfort zone. I’m really shy, so speaking with people I don’t know makes me nervous. It forced me to somewhat get over my fear.

You’ve tweeted a bunch of #internperks. Which was your ultimate favorite “perk”?

I think my overall experience here is my favorite “perk.” In my classes at Fordham, we discussed how women are underrepresented in leadership roles. That’s something that really strikes a chord with me, because I’m about to join a profession that consists of only 33.3% women. So being Julie’s–the Executive Director of Consumer Engagement–intern is awesome because she’s an intelligent woman. And the Chief Marketing Officer, Rachel Chou, is an intelligent woman. And the CEO, Jane Friedman, is an intelligent woman. Open Road is filled with them. I find it pretty inspirational.

Also, I think I got lucky with this internship. I know a fair amount of people with internships that sound awful: fetching coffee, cleaning out storage closets, working on the weekends, and things like that. Those aren’t learning experiences. So, when I tweet about #internperks or post a personal Facebook status about how much I adore Open Road, it’s 100% genuine.

You’ve just graduated from college. What’s next?

I’m headed off to law school!

Do you think you’ll be able to apply some of the skills and strategies that you learned at Open Road in law school or in your work as a lawyer?

Definitely! I think I’ve learned how to pay better attention to detail. I’ve also learned that taking the time to thoroughly research a project is better than rushing through it. Julie also challenged me to learn how to speak to people (haha). Every authoritative figure that I’ve met has told me that building connections and reading and writing well are important skills needed to excel in law school and as a lawyer. I’m fairly certain I can win over anyone now—well, as long as they have a social media account for me to look at first.

Do you have a favorite Open Road author?

I have a few favorites, but I’ll mention one: Irene Cao. I would love to write like her.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading I Feel You by Irene Cao (thanks, Amanda!) and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz.

Do you have a favorite place to read?

I love reading underneath the trees by the reflecting pool at Lincoln Center.

Bonus question: Do you have a favorite quote about reading or writing?

About reading: “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” —Jorge Luis Borges

About writing: “I write because I cannot lie still. I write to rue the world. To shake my fist. To be incredulous. I write to uncover the ruins. To ruin the ruins. I write to find the already found.” —Jennifer Militello