In February this year Callum joined the Channel View Publications/Multilingual Matters team as our new publishing intern. In this post we find out a bit more about him and his work in the world of books and publishing.
What were you doing before you joined us?
I was working as a bookseller for Foyles and as assistant editor for The Cardiff Review, both of which I’m still doing.
Have you always wanted to work in the world of books?
I suppose so, though as a younger teenager I didn’t really read. When I was very young I had visions of being an author which was, I think, just because I didn’t like doing anything much that involved going outside, and to me an author’s life was probably spent indoors, at home, doodling or something similarly inactive. Between the ages of 10 and maybe 16/17 I wasn’t interested in reading at all and only began to come back to books in sixth form and at university (which is lucky, because I was studying English Literature). Since then I figured I may as well play to my strengths, which seem to be in books. So that led to bookselling more than once, working with The Cardiff Review, and now working with Channel View.
What attracted you to the internship initially?
A paid internship is (unfortunately) a rather rare thing. An internship in publishing based outside London is even rarer. I had been looking for experience in publishing for a little while but, like many people, it’s not always the easiest path to follow, short of uprooting your life to relocate and take a hit on your savings. So finding the position at Channel View was a stroke of luck. Also, I think it’s a credit to Channel View that they do run paid internships, when many much larger publishers who I won’t name do not pay their interns. I also liked the idea of working for a small independent business, because it tends to be a more friendly and flexible environment – which has turned out to be the case. Plus I’ll take any excuse to stay in Bristol.
Is publishing what you expected? Are there any surprises?
It actually is pretty much what I expected. Though ideas I had of publishing were usually based on my familiarity with trade publishing, which is obviously a whole different can of worms. Seeing things from the other side of the supply chain in some ways felt like peering behind the curtain. But most of the surprises came from the differences between trade and academic. For example, I had a decent knowledge of the way proofs and advanced reading copies work (from asking publishers for them many times…) but it hadn’t occurred to me that inspection copies would be such a large part of promoting academic books, though it seems obvious now.
Print books or ebooks? What are you reading at the moment?
Print books, obviously. I have nothing against ebooks but I am a bit of a materialist at heart. Print books are just nice objects and if nothing else a good kind of furnishing for a flat. Even when I was studying in Canada I ended up just throwing away clothes so that I could bring books back on the flight. Naomi Klein’s door-stop of a book This Changes Everything singlehandedly put my bag several pounds over the limit, so that sat on my lap throughout the flight. Though I do wish I had an e-reader specifically for magazines and journals because I don’t really feel the same way about them as objects to collect and they build up rather quickly.
Right now I’m reading a book called My Documents by the Chilean writer Alejandro Zambra. It’s a short story collection published by Fitzcarraldo, who are an amazing publisher that I have a lot of admiration for. I have been putting off reading this one for a while after being recommended it but since I picked it up two days ago I haven’t been able to stop reading it. I’m also reading The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, but that’s going a little more slowly, as it’s quite big and rather dense – but I’m enjoying it. And I also read a couple of monthly comics such as Saga by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples.
Do you have a favourite book?
I don’t really like to choose but I adore Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin, and The Lonely City by Olivia Laing. The best book I’ve read so far this year is probably The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy.
What’s your favourite way to spend a day off?
Somehow days off always turn into work days anyway, which is maybe how I like it, since I keep doing it. I end up working through things for The Cardiff Review or trying to work on other projects or practise with the band I play in. If I’ve got nothing on then reading in the morning and spending the afternoon cooking something or other – nothing exciting. I also spend a lot of time at gigs, but you don’t need a day off to do that. Usually days off involve a lot of coffee.