This question has been nagging me for the past few weeks while I've been here at DPI. I've been learning so much, and it's (almost) all fascinating: the ins and outs (at least at the layman's level) of the industry; the life of the book, from conception to publication; all the different players... It's enough to blow your mind, so it's no wonder that I've also been wondering how and whether this experience will change me as a reader.
This may seem like a silly thing to wonder about. A roundabout answer to this question may be: Everything changes you as a reader, because all of your experiences change and shape the person you are. But I do think there are some veins of experience that can really take the method by which you read, and turn it on its head. Getting into "the business," I believe, is one of them.
One thing I've learned here: Everyone says they want to go into editorial. This, like the fact that my class is composed of 90% women, is a fact of the industry. But this is what I wonder: If I go down the editorial rabbit hole, will it be akin to revealing the man behind the curtain? (Was two movie references in one sentence too much? Please advise.) If I learn too much about the nitty gritty of creating books, cutting, pasting, reworking, polishing, and finally ushering them toward and through publication, will that dispel the magic? Will the awe I feel about an absolutely perfect work of prose be dampened by my knowledge of what went into the making of it? Will I begin to read "like an editor," always considering the ways I would have changed a book, rather than enjoying the finished product?
People do not enter the book business because they want to make money, especially not right now. They start this journey because they love books, and I'm sure they continue to love books throughout their careers. If committing to a publishing career changes the way they see and love books, then maybe it's the way they love them that changes. And maybe I don't want my way to be changed.
Maybe I'm over-thinking this. The ways in which I evaluate and appreciate literature have certainly changed throughout my reading career. One more change in perspective does not a love-of-books-killed make. And I've certainly gained in appreciation for the miracle of books themselves, since I've been here. The amount of time, effort, love, support, and people that go into the making of a book is staggering, and it's inspiring to see that many people still do care about the written word in this day and age. Knowing more about the publishing industry has helped me understand this.
In the end, maybe it's all in what you believe. I can choose to believe that working in the publishing industry will not dampen my delight over new and wonderful books - instead, my love will be enhanced by knowing the work put into every book that makes it onto a shelf. And a few years down the road, maybe I'll find my belief validated.
What do you think? Given a choice, would you be fascinated if you were shown the precise journey of a book, manuscript to publication? Or would there be a part of you tempted to close your eyes, and ignore the man behind the curtain?