We speak to Flavia about working with metadata and her 2020 book recommendations.
Hi! My name is Flavia and I’m the Metadata and Digital Supply Chain Coordinator at DK. It’s quite a long job title, but in a nutshell, I coach colleagues in the publishing divisions about metadata optimisation and best practices. I also make sure information about our books is correct in internal systems and on external platforms, such as Amazon. I also set up new ONIX feeds to British and international retailers and ensure our existing feeds run smoothly.
How did you get into publishing?
I studied Economic and Business (BA) and Management of Innovation (MSc) in Rome and started working in eCommerce in Berlin. I have always dreamt of working with books but unfortunately, there aren’t many job opportunities in publishing in Italy. So I’ve decided to take the leap and apply for the MA in Digital Publishing at Oxford Brookes University. The course was brilliant, both at the academic level (allowing me to learn about all departments in a publishing house from Editorial and Marketing, to Rights and Production) and in terms of networking events. I also applied for as many internships as possible during the year to build some relevant publishing experience for my CV. I applied for tons of positions in the summer after the 2 terms of the MA and I landed my first full-time job at Polity, as their Digital Marketing Executive.
Has your role in publishing widened your reading taste, and how has it changed your attitude to different genres of books?
Definitely! Both now at DK and previously at Polity, I’ve worked on trade non-fiction, a genre which has been booming in the last few years. I’ve always been interested in non-fiction, but working on it from inside the publishing industry has allowed me to discover many more sub-genres and interesting authors. Since I moved to the UK 3 years ago, I also read way more British literature and less Italian and European literature than I used to. I usually try to make up for it with big book hauls when I go back to Italy for the holidays, but this year has been quite sui generis, unfortunately.
What reading formats do you prefer? Do you prefer hardbacks, paperbacks, eBooks, audiobooks, library books, or a mixture?
Paperbacks are my absolute favourites: they’re compact, easy to carry around and often have amazing colourful covers. eBooks on my trusted Kobo eReader are a must for when I’m travelling or I’m on public transport (again, not often this year). I usually borrow graphic novels from libraries, they’re a huge passion of mine, but they take up a lot of bookshelves space and unfortunately I don’t have much room in my flat in London. Finally, audiobooks are my latest love: I’ve been a podcast binge listener for years, so it was quite predictable that I would fall for audiobooks too.
What is your most-read genre? Do you have niche sub-genres that you are often attracted to?
My most-read genre at the moment is probably women’s literature. I also really love memoirs (like On the Move by Oliver Sacks and Between Them by Richard Ford), travel memoirs (like In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, The Consolations of the Forest by Sylvain Tesson), and poetry.
Where do you buy or access your books?
In the last few months, I’ve mainly been buying eBooks through the Kobo store. Otherwise, I try to buy from independent bookshops and I love discovering new ones. My favourite in Oxford is Blackwell’s on Broad Street.
What childhood books have you kept on your shelves?
In London, I don't have any of my childhood books but in my house in my hometown in Italy I still have all of them! Some of my favourites were: Matilda by Roald Dahl, Seacrow Island by Astrid Lindgren and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.
What’s the most beautiful book you own?
Not a conventional book, but I would say Building stories by Chris Ware. A graphic novel divided into 14 pieces, all included in a boxed set.
Who is your most read author, and why?
I think Italo Calvino, my favourite Italian writer. He wrote essays, short stories collections and novels. If you haven’t read anything by him, you definitely should and you’re in for a treat! My favourite titles of his are: the Our Ancestors trilogy, Invisible Cities and
Six Memos for the Next Millennium. I am also a big Agatha Christie and Marilynne Robinson fan.
What surprises you about your shelves? Is there a book you own that you were surprised to love as much as you did?
A beautiful collection of six Sherlock Holmes books from the Penguin English Library. I wasn’t surprised to love them but to find them basically new in an Oxfam shop in Oxford and buy them all for less than half price!
What are your favourite books of 2020 so far?
Fiction: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. I know this is probably everyone’s favourite at the moment and rightly so! It is so, so good, stylistically and also in terms of plot and characters development. Non-fiction: The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon.
What are your most anticipated reads for the rest of 2020?
I’m currently reading Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams and listening to the audiobook of Becoming by Michelle Obama, which are both titles I’ve wanted to read for a long time, so I’m really happy to be finally diving in! One of my next reads will be The Insecure Girl's Handbook by Liv Purvis.
What book should everyone read?
Girl, Woman, Other! 14-year-old Flavia would say Someone to Run With by David Grossman, and it’s still one of my all-time faves to this day. My favourite of the last few years instead is Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter.
Where can readers find you online?
I’m @FlamFlam91 on Twitter and Instagram. I also produce and host the Publishing Insight podcast, where I interview publishing professionals. You can find it and listen to it on all podcast apps and on my website here.