Four-and-a-half years ago, I joined Team Library with a mission to help bring three strong but neglected print brands into the digital present, and after a rocky first three years of rebuilding infrastructure and establishing sustainable processes, the past 18+ months have been a rather enjoyable roller coaster of successful new (and revamped) initiatives built upon a pretty solid foundation of strategic planning and smart, engaged staff.
A month-a-half ago, my boss resigned after five years at the helm. I was his first hire as publisher and we worked closely together–moreso than I ever have with any previous boss–sharing a similar vision, occasionally differing on how to get there, but in the end, always getting there together. He resigned with the confidence that he’d achieved his primary goal of leaving the three brands in (far) better shape than when he took them over, and I’m now ready to move on with a similar feeling of accomplishment, too.
It wasn’t an easy decision as the current staff includes some of the smartest, most passionate people I’ve ever worked with, and the audience they serve is one I have the utmost respect for, second only to teachers. Their mission continues, but it’s time for me to move on to new challenges and, man, did I ever find one!
The Reading Room connects books with people. We make discovering books entertaining, informative and socially engaging. And, most importantly believe that the best recommendations come from people you know and trust.
On September 30th I’ll be joining The Reading Room as VP, Audience Development.
It’s a relatively new(ish) startup that I’d never heard of before earlier this year when my former Digital Book World colleague, Matt Mullin, joined them as Sales Director, but the more I learned about them, the more intrigued I became. I’ve been a pretty vocal skeptic when it comes to publishing-adjacent startups over the past several years, and the idea of working at ANY start-up at this point in my career wasn’t on my ideal job wish list at all, but I really like what they’re building and how they’ve gone about it, focused on engaging community first, learning what that community wants and needs, and continually refining the product based on what they’ve learned.
Having spent the last 12+ years helping legacy print brands navigate the digital transition (excepting that 18-month run building DBW from scratch), I’m excited about the opportunity to jump into the digital present with both feet, no print crutch in sight. I still love the magazine industry and have a fondness for print that will never die, but I couldn’t resist an opportunity to help build something in the digital book world that will challenge me in new ways and allow me to expand upon skills that have always been somewhat constrained in print-centric environments.
Most importantly, though, I like the people. Culture is the underrated special sauce at any company, and it was my top priority in considering my next move. Reuniting with Matt is definitely a plus, but their… our CEO, Kim Anderson, has assembled a pretty impressive team that I can’t wait to start working with.
If, like me, The Reading Room wasn’t already on your radar, go check it out and let me know what you think, good or bad. And if you’re already using it, send me your profile so I can follow you.
UPDATE [4/29/16]: After six months, I left The Reading Room at the end of March 2016. An interesting experience that I’ll fully unpack one of these days, but suffice to say, most startups fail to gain traction for a variety of reasons, but the most common one is misreading a gap in the market, especially when personal benchmarking is at play.