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Preparing for snow and ice

November is the only time when the weather in Great Barrington reminds me of England . . . in both places, November is a lull before winter, a time of low gray skies, when fallen leaves have blown up against walls and into corners where they soften and fade. But in New England winter looms much larger in our minds, and getting ready is much more important because once the temperature drops and snow falls, it can be difficult, even impossibl, to do certain things.

Oddly enough, it’s during this quiet period that we have started a whole range of new projects. There’s a springtime feeling in the office that at first had me puzzled. Why were we so suddenly energetized about starting new book series and even a film project? Some of it has to do with my recent travels, with particular synchronicity of people and ideas, and of course with long-term business strategy. But I think we’re also inspired to get things going now that will require lots of sustained, shared work through the winter.

Carrie Owens joined us recently as a developmental editor, and in addition to managing Heart of the Community: The Libraries We Love nominations process, she’s working with David and me on trade publishing projects. Some of these we’ll publish under the Berkshire imprint but some will be packaged with trade houses. Carrie used to work in film animation and special effects, and one of the things she brings from that industry is an appreciation of humor. I have a sign over my desk that says, “It’s the content, stupid,” and I think I’m going to add one Carrie says they had in the film studio, “Funny is money.” Not that our encyclopedias are going to become comical–though we have added what a Choice reviewer referred to as “whimsical illustrations”–but we are having fun with these smaller books, which will take our work on comparative religion, world cultures, and global perspectives to a wider audience. And maybe David will finally have a chance to do something with the jokes from around the world he’s so fond of.

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