By Aaron Stanton
(the title is funnier if you're an Invader Zim fan...)
Dan has a much more technical style to his posts than I do, but I suppose it gives you another lens to see into what we do. Not only do we jump up and down in the parking lots of large international companies, but we also spend a lot of time approaching books differently than most people. In Dan's case, through numbers.
As always between my posts, a great deal has been happening. Our trip to New York was quite positive, and we'll be returning, soon. New York is quickly becoming very familiar to me; I no longer need to check the subway map every time I fly into the airport. I just know the way.
When I was in high school, I remember writing somewhere that I'd know I'd become successful when I could afford to fly to New York City spontaneously for no purpose other than to go ice skating in Central Park. (I was an odd duck in high school...)
Every time I visit New York, I seem to find an article like this one (http://nymag.com/news/media/50279/
) about the doom of the industry. I find them fascinating, a little scary, and very exciting. The general atmosphere in New York when you talk to publishers is an interesting mix of panic and opportunity. Everyone is absolutely sure that somewhere in the jumble of bad news in the publishing industry, there's a path to some sort of brilliant solution. eBooks, technology, new ways of paying authors. Everyone is casting about looking for that one home run solution that will take Publishing House A and really knock it out of the park. Save the day. Take the cake.
Nobody knows what it is, but everyone senses it's there somewhere.
As I've said before, I don't think the publishing industry is in nearly as much trouble as others do, but it's obviously in a world of hurt. For those publishers that are inflexible to change, I think a different set of top dogs will exist in 50 years than the current ones, but publishing as an industry won't simply disappear. It's too big for that. Still, there's a lot of room for innovation; despite being a mature industry, there's a tremendous amount of room to grow. Odd thing to say, all things considered.
On a side note, Dr. Jockers from Stanford University came up to Boise for a visit last week. Of all the times he and I have talked, this is the first time I've convinced him it was worth his time to visit Idaho. In creating our system, we've always solicited feedback from others, and his insight as both an English professor and a linguist is very useful. When I was first invited to give a lecture at Stanford last year, I didn't expect it to be an ongoing connection. I'm very glad to say that it's looking to be more and more durable.
On a final note, because it's early in the morning and I have to go get ready for work (currently about 5:49 a.m.), I had a very important teacher of mine pass away recently. Mrs. Moore was a math teacher in my high school that was truly a good friend and an inspirational teacher. She once bet me $100 that I'd someday make a million; I always had this image of mailing her a $100 bill someday with a note saying, "Do you remember what this was for?"
I'm afraid I was not fast enough to have that opportunity, now. Mrs. Moore passed away of cancer last week, something I didn't even know was an issue until it was too late - I found out about it through cell phone text message (that's a comment on our times unto itself).
I drove a few hours to be at her funeral, and I took the time to track down some of my old teachers immediately afterwards. I said it to them in person, but I'll reflect it here to all teachers, because sometimes you need reminding: Never, ever underestimate how important you are to your students. A good teacher helps determine what ruler we use to measure our own dreams, aspirations, and expectations. Throughout life, we all collect people that we want to make proud of us down the road, people that we want to be able to someday go back to and say, "See, your faith was not misplaced."
In my experience, teachers are a large part of the driving force that pushes us to aim farther into the horizon than we otherwise would, and run just a little harder, faster, and farther than we can on our own. At least that's how it's been for me, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Give thanks to the people in your life that fit that description, because it's surprising how much you'll wish you'd done that more often once they're gone.