Due to technical difficulties and my inability to work a tape recorder, my interview with Gary Kliewer, the co-owner and editor at White Cloud Press, was not recorded and therefore is not here for you guys to read. Oops! Instead I’m going to write a little bit about the internship I’ve been doing at White Cloud this year and hopefully be able to incorporate what I remember from my interview with Gary.
I started my internship with White Cloud fall term of this year and even though I wasn’t able to get enough hours in to get credit the past two terms, I have stayed with them doing little odds and ends jobs when and where I can. I’ve had a great experience working with the people there and it made me want to work in the publishing business even more than I already did.
We’ve all been very interested in e-books this term and right now White Cloud is working on converting all of their publications to be able to release them as e-books. A couple weeks ago, I got to be a part of that process. It was a pretty boring job, but really interesting. The first five books White Cloud published back in the early 90’s were, of course, never stored digitally in the format an e-book requires. Recently, the rights to files (or something, I’m not quite sure) were sold to a company in India. Again, I’m not really sure of all the logistics but the bottom line was that White Cloud wanted to have those five publications available as e-books and they needed to turn the hard copy books in to computer files. That’s what I got to do. I first cut all the pages out of the books (that was weird) and then I used a scanner to scan them into the computer. The cool thing, which I’d never heard of before, was that the program I was using to scan the pages was actually reading the words and converting them not only into an image but into an actual word document. It took a really long time to do each book and it was very tedious. But in the end, they are now able to reformat those word documents into e-books.
I asked Gary about his opinion of the e-book during our interview and he gave me the answer we’ve been getting from all of our professionals this term: it’s here to stay but no one knows how to do it well yet and the classic hard-cover book will never leave us. During one part of Gary’s career he worked as a textbook editor. His job was to basically compile an entire science textbook including everything from what writers and articles would go in it to its overall design and layout. He brought up a good point about having textbooks available as e-books and why we haven’t seen that happen yet. He said that the price of textbooks, especially the science ones, is so high because of the magnitude of the effort that goes into putting them together. They cost a fortune to make and produce and that is why we pay so much for them every term. It’s going to be hard for textbook companies to release a cheaper e-version for students simply because of the high cost of the initial compilation on he books.
The biggest thing that sticks out in my mind from Gary’s interview was a piece of advice that I think is really useful to all of us who are just starting out in the business. He said to pick a field of expertise and stick to it. Whether you want to write, edit, publish, freelance, whatever, choose a field that you are knowledgeable in and can market. Gary said that if he were to go back and do his career over again, he would have definitely not jumped around from one random job to another because it took him a long time to get into a stable job that he could be successful with. I, of course, had to ask him what happens if you get bored of your field and you want to switch it up. He said it is always good to have more than one thing you can do and if you can find a few really solid fields to juggle then you should be good.