Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

Book Jobs Not by the Book: Cristina Mezuk, Publisher Content Coordinator for [email protected]

Cristina Mezuk graduated from the University of Michigan in 2005 with a Bachelors of Fine Arts. Her first publishing-related job was as a Publicity Assistant and in-house creative for an independent bookstore which hosted author readings and other events. She then worked as a Production Assistant at JSTOR, in the journal archives division on the Archival Accuracy and Completeness team. Later, she was hired as a Content Digitization Project Manager at the publisher Cengage Learning (formerly Gale), who publishes and distributes fiction and higher ed books. Currently, she is working at JSTOR again, this time as the Publisher Content Coordinator for the [email protected] program, where she is the main point of contact for books in the content management division. She currently resides in Ann Arbor, MI.

cristina mezuk
What was your first exposure to book business and what were the most important things you gained from it?
My first book-related job was technically working as a clerk at a comic book store. It was a dream job, since I had been obsessed with comics for most of my childhood. It was so much fun to know about the latest comics coming in, recommend books based on people’s preferences, and (most importantly) fuel my comic book addiction. But really, being able to interact with people about a product I was passionate about was incredibly rewarding and fun.

A few years later, I was hired at a local independent bookstore to help with textbook rush. This shop was located on the University of Michigan campus, and sold quite a few humanities titles for college classes for a short period of time. The amount of awesome literature I wound up buying during that time helped shape my reading habits. Plus, the camaraderie between my fellow co-workers during this rush period of 2-6 weeks was incredible, and long lasting. The majority of my best friends worked with me at this store, so I owe quite a bit to that experience.

 

How do you explain your current job to people?
I usually say that I work at a digital archive and platform, and do stuff with eBooks. If their eyes don’t glaze over at that point, I might continue with a “have you ever seen how a book product page looks on Amazon?” and try to explain metadata and electronic book production to them. Since it’s such a strange job, I don’t go into too much detail because often the listener has no idea what I’m talking about. Every so often I’ll meet someone who knows XML and we can geek out about ONIX tagging together.

 

In what ways did your previous jobs or internships prepare you for what you do here?
I think my time working at a book publisher helped put everything into perspective in my current job. In my last gig, I was literally sending eBooks to retail platforms like Amazon, Yuzu, etc, so now I know what the other side is like. I know what processes are involved in creating eBooks, how publisher internal data management systems might work, and most importantly, what the expectations the publisher has for their content. In that regard, I think my time working for a publisher was invaluable.

 

What value has this job brought to the way you think about book business as a whole and your own relationship to books?
At this point I’ve worked for a brick-and-mortar retail shop, a publishing platform, and a publisher. Because of this, I feel like my knowledge about the book business is more well-rounded than most. Of course, part of me still secretly thinks I now need to work at a library and printing press to complete my book publishing knowledge!
As for my relationships with books – even though I look at them every day in PDF form, I barely read anymore. I often see content I’d like to read while I’m at work, but because it’s “work” related I just can’t get motivated to look them up later. I used to read voraciously when I had hard copies at my fingertips during my time working at a bookstore, so perhaps I’m an old fashioned gal that needs a real book in order to get excited about reading.

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