(My currently overflowing bookshelves.)
We get lots of comics in the mail here at First Second. And we get lots of them handed to us at shows.
They’re from other publishers as a ‘look what we’re doing!,’ by authors and illustrators who’d like to work with us in the future, by agents who want us to get a sense of their clients, by international publishers who are hoping we’ll publish their books in the US, by educators and librarians and booksellers who want us to know what they’re seeing in the market, etc. Lots of comics. Lots and lots and lots of comics. Graphic novels and issue comics and trade paperbacks and mini-comics and art books and all sorts of book-shaped things.
What happens to all of them?
First Second’s offices are in New York City. As such, they’re pretty small. I mean, they’re reasonably sized! We all have a desk and walls and stuff! But there’s not really extra room to store books and books and books and books.
We do have two bookshelves where we keep our ‘library’ — books by authors that we’re interested in working with in the future, books that do something with storytelling, color, style, format, size, shape, that we’re interested in emulating sometime — books that we absolutely need to do our jobs properly.
With the building that we work in, there’s not space for anything else, unfortunately.
So what happens when these books show up at our office?
We have two staff meetings every week; when books show up, we bring them to the meetings, and they get passed around to anyone in the office who wants to read them. We read them and talk about anything that seems interesting. If it’s a person we want to watch, or the book does something sufficiently interesting that we need to keep it around for reference, it gets jammed into our ‘library’ bookshelves.
If not, it goes on the general ‘To Donate’ shelves outside the kitchen, where the rest of the people in the Macmillan offices can come by, browse, and take books for their own reading purposes.
After a few months of circulation, those books get boxed up and donated to Housing Works, one of our local nonprofit bookstores — all their proceeds to go fight AIDS.
We’re not the biggest fans of throwing away books. At the same time, our office literally isn’t big enough to hold all the books we get without exploding in some terrible way. We feel that donating them to a good book-related charity is the best option for them — an excellent middle ground.
We love getting books sent to us! We really appreciate getting the chance to read other peoples work — and all this great work deserves to have another life and find more readers, since we don’t have space to keep it ourselves.