Publishing Talks: Interview with Arthur Attwell


Manage episode 283923544 series 1070197
By WritersCast. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Publishing Talks began as a series of conversations with book industry professionals and others involved in media and technology, mostly talking about the future of publishing, books, and culture. I’ve spent time talking with people in the book industry about how publishing is evolving in the context of technology, culture, and economics.

Some time back, this series broadened to include conversations that go beyond the future of publishing. In an effort to document the literary world, I’ve talked with a variety of editors, publishers and others who have been innovators and leaders in independent publishing in the past and into the present.

These conversations have been inspirational to me on many levels. I have gotten to speak with visionaries and entrepreneurs, as well as editors and publishers who have influenced and changed contemporary literature and culture.

Today’s guest is another such special individual. Arthur Attwell, who lives in Capetown, South Africa, got his start in publishing working for Oxford University Press as an editor. Impatient with the inefficiencies of publishing, he left to start up his current venture with some collaborators, Electric Book Works, which has been building books since 2006 that are active in multiple formats and versions, from beautifully produced print books to well fashioned ebooks to websites that express the book form in new ways.

In addition to the work he has done with Electric Book Works, this energetic entrepreneur has co-created an impactful health care information project, Bettercare, which has created and distributed healthcare learning materials to thousands of practitioners and consumers all over Africa. Although this project, entirely volunteer run, has had to cut back on its activities because of the pandemic, its impact continues with part timers and reduced capabilities.

Perhaps the most exciting efforts I have learned about recently is yet another Attwell project, Book Dash. Arthur and his partners created (and have since carefully refined) a process that assembles teams of book professionals to create and publish children’s books, and which also the raises money and support needed for the printing and distribution of thousands of books across Africa, with the stated goal that every child should own 100 books by the time they are five years old! The Book Dash process was built as an intensive one day effort, gathering teams in person, but has quickly adapted to a virtual model, enabling contributors to participate from multiple physical locations. They have made some really terrific books using this process and Book Dash has now distributed over one million books to children in Africa.

With the time difference between us, arranging this talk required bit of organizing, but we were able to speak recently by Skype. My original goal was simply to give Arthur an opportunity to talk about Book Dash. But we ended up having a much wider conversation on a range of topics, including distributed print on demand printing, a dream concept we both have explored, and much more. I suspect we will talk further in the necessary follow up conversation I hope to have with him as there are so many exciting ideas to discuss.

For now, I hope you will enjoy listening to Arthur Attwell as much as I did.

Arthur’s “On Transit” Talk

Arthur’s website

The post Publishing Talks: Interview with Arthur Attwell first appeared on WritersCast.

156 episodes