Charlotte Heather is our newest team member, taking the role of Community Manager. She explains what drew her to The Pigeonhole.
‘Because a novel is the only place in the world where two strangers can meet on terms of absolute intimacy. The reader and the writer make the book together.’
– Paul Auster, The Paris Review
I have always felt like my relationships with certain books and authors were mine and mine alone. In a way they are, but of course, I am not the only one to form such tight relationships with an author who shows me the world in a whole new light, or reflects something I already knew.
One of the first authors I felt that way about was Angela Carter. I was certain that nobody could appreciate or love her work in the same way as I did. I grew up and discovered that, of course, they could – yet that didn’t take away from my relationship with Carter. There are a million questions I would love to ask her, and a billion other questions I’d like to ask current working writers. One of the things that excites me about The Pigeonhole digital serialisations are that they facilitate this, alongside the opportunity to talk to other people who are forming their own experience and relationship with the same book as you are.
I also love marginalia. I buy second hand copies of books I already have because they have been scrawled all over and I want to get into that mystery person’s reading brain. Now I have a job where I can read everyone’s marginalia, and they each other’s: marginalia has become an engaging discussion, lively debate. This feels like a future for books.
I say ‘a future’, not ‘the future’ because I think as tech advances and everyone becomes more digitally active that the future of the book will be manifold. The paperback will not die out – if it does I will have to seriously rethink the decor of my flat – and yet there is a huge amount of room for digital publishing to push boundaries too.
I love the Paul Auster quote about the relationship between reader and writer. But with digital innovation, and with the platform The Pigeonhole provides, that relationship has been expanded to include interactions, in real-time, between readers. You can meet other readers inside a book.
It shouldn’t come as a great surprise. One thing we have seen over and over as digital has claimed our cultural landscape is that collaborative processes reign supreme. The sharing economy, on-demand consumption and social experiences are very much on the rise. If we can share our taxis and order dry cleaning at the touch of the button, it makes sense that books too can be instantaneously accessed via our phones and read with others around the world. If we can use our phones to meet someone round the corner who’s up for ‘drinks and more ;)’ then why not meet someone and debate within a book?
Sharing books, after all,is an age-old tradition. Almost as old as meeting up for ‘drinks and more ;)’. I’m looking forward to playing a part in this innovation, helping to open up one of the many futures for the book world.