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Robin Seaman

Robin Seaman

By posted in on July 15, 2013 at 11:23am

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What were you doing before Benetech that led you here?

I joined Benetech in 2008 following a twenty-year long career in book publishing throughout which I’ve been fortunate to work for truly great companies in different sectors of the business – trade, academic and educational. I began my career at Macmillan in California, then moved to New York to work for Oxford University Press.  After five years with the Press I executed a somewhat rare publishing “180” and moved from the distinguished world of academic publishing to the fast-paced and – true to the cliché – often glamorous world of trade publishing with the Crown Publishing Group (now a division of Penguin Random House). Returning to California, I then joined HarperSanFrancisco (now HarperOne), the West Coast division of HarperCollins, where I worked on its incredible list of books in spirituality and personal growth, and subsequently IDG Books, where I oversaw the positioning of its many distinguished technical book series, including the iconic Dummies books. In 1999, making another leap into the then radically new sector of ebooks, I became Director of Content for NuvoMedia, the creator of the Rocket eBook, the first handheld electronic reading device, spending an exhilarating five years at the forefront of the digital revolution.

So, in many ways, everything I had done throughout my professional life led me to Benetech. I joined the company with the goal of galvanizing the publishing community to support Bookshare’s social mission and my experience in marketing, branding, positioning, editorial and design across so many sectors of the publishing world has made it possible to make significant inroads into doing just that.

What is the best part about your job at Benetech?

The focus of my publishing career has been on translating cutting edge ideas and technology developments to end consumers, sales teams, media and the publishing industry. My job at Benetech leverages this experience in a remarkable way. I have the privilege of collaborating with every sector of publishing – including many friends and colleagues from my past publishing lives – and the thrill of continuing my engagement with the digital revolution I was present at from the start.

But there’s one huge added bonus to my work at Benetech. I now get to engage publishers and other industry stakeholders in a deep conversation about the power of ebooks to change lives both in the U.S. and around the world. The message I’m able to share with publishers is one that they don’t often hear: they are inspired by our mission (and awed by the larger mission of Benetech) and reminded of why they became involved in publishing in the first place – to spread knowledge and culture. We occupy a unique space in the publishing world and are earning the respect and admiration of all its many diverse players – publishers, distributors, authors, agents and all who intersect with the ecosystem of publishing.

Thinking about Benetech’s future, what are you most excited about?

Just as Benetech’s scope continues to expand thoughtfully and judiciously to serve unmet social needs, I’m excited about how Bookshare’s scope is expanding – through the introduction of new tools and practices for publishers so that accessibility can finally be built into the publishing workflow, through broadening our content offering with more STEM and core educational content and through growing our international collection. I’m inspired by the fact that our team has created the largest collection of accessible Arabic ebooks in the world and I’m eager to keep up our momentum on this important work. I’m eager to see the expansion of our Spanish-language collection and to work with publishers in India and Africa to increase the number of local-interest titles in those regions.

– View Robin’s LinkedIn Profile