Lisa is Senior Vice President and director of creative development for HarperCollins Publishers worldwide. For the past decade, Lisa and her team have overseen the acquisition of high profile non-fiction books across all imprints in both adult and children’s divisions resulting in dozens of New York Times Bestsellers.
I had the distinct honor of participating in a panel at Book Expo hosted by The London Book Fair and moderated by its Director, Jacks Thomas.
While the theme of the panel was Books, Brexit and Brits, it really became a panel about how books truly are a uniquely universal language and that no matter your race or religion or where you reside there are messages inside great works of literature that translate across borders of all kinds.
At HarperCollins we have offices around the world and we try our best to publish books in as many languages as possible.
This year as we celebrate our 200th anniversary we have been talking about why we read with our authors, our employees, and the general public using the #whyIread.
So many of the people we asked told us they read to travel to places on the page and in their minds that they would never have a chance to visit in person.
They read to open their minds to other perspectives.
They read to expand their horizons, whet their appetites, experience multiple emotions, to solve mysteries contained between the books’ covers and to try to understand the mysteries of the universe.
With recent events targeting innocent people and threatening to divide us from one another I purport that books have the ability to bring us together, as readers, as thinkers, as humans, and as explorers.
Spending time as I did this year at both the London Book Fair and Book Expo and seeing the excitement that great writers generate amongst their fans reminds me that all hope is not lost when people still love those who put pen to paper, and crowds are still queuing to buy books signed by their favorite authors.
Whether you are a lover of Shakespeare or Jane Austen, Mark Twain or Malala there are messages contained in books that cross through time and place.
Given the growth our industry has seen despite all the various things that threaten it from digital addiction to lack of access to books I still feel hopeful.
Independent bookstores are thriving as community gathering places where the staff and their personalized recommendations connect enthusiastic readers to wonderful books of all sizes, shapes and colors.
So if you are worried about the world and there is good reason to feel that way, take some time out to visit an independent bookstore or a book fair and perhaps you’ll feel a bit more hopeful. And grab a classic work of literature or something that’s just been released, put away your phone, curl up in a cozy chair and escape into worlds beyond your wildest imagination.