So I went to the Frankfurt Bookfair, saw and appreciated the sights but came home feeling like I hadn’t really connected. Nothing had really happened.
But. Here’s what has happened since:
- The one industry person I talked to at the fair – who I already do a bit of work for – emailed me about an awesome new project he wants me to work on.
- Elizabeth Knox (Elizabeth Knox!) commented on my post, noting that she too had been feeling a bit alienated by it all.
- I had a little tweet conversation with Hinemoana Baker (@Hinemoana: I mentioned her Transit of Venus work in my post) – and she commented that she’d read what I wrote too – and that she too had found the Fair huge and overwhelming.
- The New Zealand at Frankfurt people (@NZatFrankfurt) favourited our tweet linking to my post.
This little list of connections might seem meagre, but each of them individually has given me such a little ping of satisfaction. The last thing I said in my post was that I felt like I wasn’t a member of the club – but within a week of coming home, these incidents have made me feel like maybe I am in the club. Or, at least, that my membership application could be considered. What’s going on here?
Glad you asked.
Well, I think that maybe what’s going on is a curious shift in focus … The stock-in-trade of book people (let’s call us werds) is merely words. But the conventional idea is that the wordy products werds create don’t quite exist until they’ve been tangibly collected, sold, marketed and discussed – shared – in real life. An event like Frankfurt really reinforces that idea. But my curious experience was that the Fair itself – the tangible part – didn’t really exist until I had discussed and shared it in my ‘non-real’ life.
Old model = the tangible stuff (the hardcopy book, the face-to-face discussion) was the point; the words were nothing without that packaging.
New model = the words themselves are the point, and the tangible stuff merely provides werds with a place from which to leap into flights of werdiness, on a journey that is new, exciting, and shared, but in a particularly introverty way.
Book people tend to be introverts. When I worked for a large (by NZ standards) publishing firm in Wellington there was an editorial floor and an everything-else floor (sales, marketing etc) and the auditory difference between the two was quite astounding. Second floor: music, laughter, stories about the weekend being exchanged, excuses being found to visit the shared kitchen. First floor: a pin could have dropped and we all would have jumped at the clatter. We told each other about our weekends via email. We liked it like that.
Social media is misnamed, because the term makes it sound a bit like a party. (Run, werds: run!) Actually, social media is very, very quiet; silent in fact: It’s just a huge collection of words. Social media is our aeroplane – it’s where we board to go on those flights of werdiness I was mentioning. Let the extroverts hang out below at the parties, talking about other parties. The internet is our place. We feel comfortable here. We get stuff done here. And it’s becoming the way stuff gets done in general: the accepted way, the logical way, the efficient way.
It’s too early to say, I think, but there’s a good chance Maja will be as introverted as her parents. If the world she’s growing up in was the same as the one I grew up in, I would worry on her behalf a little bit for that reason. The world I grew up in was definitely geared for the extroverts.
But increasingly, I think, it’s looking like the introverts shall inherit the earth.
Isn’t that exciting?? *shuts door, makes cup of tea, settles down alone, happily, to google obscure punctuation marks and check twitter*