Carrying out a placement with the Edinburgh Book Review may seem an odd choice for a would be publisher, especially as the company’s output relates primarily to online literary reviews, as opposed to books, periodicals and other printed content. Nevertheless, this would be publisher is of the opinion that as a platform for publicly available content, the Edinburgh Book Review is as much a publisher as any traditional behemoth of the industry.
If the recent boom of self publishing is anything to go by, a dramatic shift is about to hit the industry. Consumers are no longer satisfied with passively ingesting content, and frustrated with traditional publishing processes, they are using an increasing variety of platforms to communicate with friends, critique the output of others and to tell their own stories. The Edinburgh Book Review provides such a platform, building an online community for those who love literature, keeping them up to date with the biggest news to hit the industry, in addition to giving readers the opportunity to contribute their own reviews to the site.
As a young publisher, this was what drew me to the Edinburgh Book Review – the opportunity to write literary reviews, and by doing so to try to understand the author’s perspective in an industry where writers are increasingly marginalised.
Consequently, I quickly discovered that the act of writing is very different to the bohemian romanticism with which it is often portrayed. Instead of swanning around the cafes and absinthe bars of Montmartre, the reality usually involves staring at a blank screen, waiting for the words to come, all the while drinking far too many cups of tea and wrestling with an increasing sense of guilt over how many chocolate biscuits have been consumed.
Such a way of working does however install a sense of discipline, for which I’m extremely grateful to the Edinburgh Book Review. With 12% of the publishing workforce employed on a freelance basis, it’s relatively foreseeable that such discipline will be necessary at some stage in my future career. Therefore the act of rewarding one’s self with a cup of tea for every coherent paragraph that makes its way onto the page seems slightly less ridiculous.
I’m also grateful that the Edinburgh Book Review has made me try books I would otherwise have missed. To date, I’ve reviewed authors from all over the world, including Norway, Ireland, the UK and former Yugoslavia, spanning various genres, from crime and horror to literary novels and psychological thrillers. I’ve read books that are much cleverer than they initially appear, along with those which are less clever than they’d like to think they are. Every one of them has been unique in their own way, and has only served to confirm my belief that although technology may change, the very human acts of communicating and sharing stories will survive, regardless of whether the traditional publishing industry can do the same .