Monday, December 19, 2011

Generally Horrible Questions: Beth Meister

Beth Meister
Since all of our bookseller pals are busy making Christmas wishes come true by selling as many books as possible, we decided to feature one of the peeps on the other end of the book supply chain this week.  Beth Meister works for Random House (with Liz, and we're sure that this fact is taken into account when she has her performance evaluations) and is generally a bad ass.  After all, what was she doing on a Saturday night in December?  She was reading this half-assed blog.  That's dedication.  Other things to know: Liz thinks "Beth" is a lovely name, Beth's obviously brilliant since she loves baseball, and she's generally a kind, funny, good natured person...and into self-punishment as exhibited by her willingness to fill out our little questionnaire.

Welcome to Book Land, Beth Meister!

1.     What is your position at Random House?
My title is Director, Sales Management & Planning for Doubleday, Knopf, Pantheon, and Schocken

2.  What exactly does that mean you do?

The best way to describe my job is to say that I am the liaison between the sales department and the publisher’s office.  I work with the publishing group to make sure our sales reps have all of the information they need when they sell-in our titles and I communicate all information from the sales department back to the publishing group. [So you're Red from The Shawshank Redemption, the guy who can get things....or maybe The Wolf from Pulp Fiction, and Gianna is Jimmy, and Liz is obviously Julius.....]

3.  How’d you get that job?

While in college I went to a job fair in Manhattan over the holiday break. There were two non-banking jobs and I interviewed for both of them.  Random House was interviewing for their Associates Program.  This program was for up to a year and would rotate to different departments within a publishing group.  I was then hired for the Associates Program within the Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group and I started the summer after I graduated from college.  I stayed in that program for about 10 months and worked in the editorial and publicity departments.  From there, I was hired as an assistant in the department I work in now.  I eventually became the Associate Director, Sales Management & Planning at Doubleday Broadway and then stayed with Doubleday when we became part of Knopf.  And now I’m Director, Sales Management & Planning for Doubleday, Knopf, Pantheon, and Schocken. [ the exact opposite of sleeping with someone?]

4.   What’s the most menial job you’ve had?

I started at Random House right out of college so I guess babysitting?  I also worked as a waitress at my summer camp but that was a lot of fun.  [See what we mean about Beth?  She describes waitressing for children as "fun."]

5.   What did you want to be as a kid?
When I was really little I wanted to work as a checkout person at the grocery store.  I thought punching the keys seemed fun.  Then in elementary school I wanted to be a teacher and a writer. [Here in Book Land we're about making dreams come true.  Here's a link to Trader Joe's job application.  Let us know if you need a reference!]

6.   What’s your most jaw-dropping, jealousy inducing, incredible experience working at RH? (Feel free to say “Meeting Liz.”)
Meeting Liz is the obvious answer here.  But what I think is the most jealousy-inducing is that I truly love my job.

7.  What book do you love people probably don’t know about?
I love Jonathan Tropper.  The first book of his I read was The Book of Joe.  It had been selected for a book club I was in and neither the flap copy nor the cover interested me at all. Then I started reading and I fell in love.  

8.  As a lifelong Mets fan, how can you stand being surrounded by so many Yankees fans in the office?  I mean, I guess since it’s New York City you can’t easily slash their tires in the parking lot….
It can be difficult at times but it helps when the Yankees lose in the first round of the playoffs.  I also enjoy it when the Phillies lose in the first round of the playoffs.

9.  Gianna or Liz?
I have learned that the correct answer is always Liz. [Damn straight.]

10. What book(s) changed your life?
I took a class in college called Girls Books.  It was the first English class I had ever taken that I actually enjoyed.  We read Ballet Shoes and I absolutely loved it.  Reading hadn’t been a huge part of my adult life at that point but that book got me back into reading. 

11. I've never read _____________ and I'm so ashamed.
Atonement by Ian McEwan.  I made a friend of mine tell me the ending because I had heard it had a shocking twist. [Fear not!  Liz and Gianna will act out the movie for you.]

12. I've read ______________ and I'm so ashamed.
I know that the correct answer here is Twilight.  However, I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve ever read.  I believe that it doesn’t matter what you read as long as you are reading. [We believe the same...unless it's Twilight. It's terribly shameful.]

13. What book(s) are you most excited about that haven’t yet been published?
Two books not yet on-sale that I just couldn’t put down are Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead and Top of the Rock by Warren Littlefield.  The characters in Seating Arrangements are so flawed that they broke my heart.  Top of the Rock is pure fun – it is a behind the scenes look at NBC in the 80s and 90s when shows like Cheers, Friends, and ER (with my all-time favorite, George Clooney) were on the air.  [Liz: I really love both of these books.  Great choices to jot down now so you don't forget.]

14. Who would play you in the made-for-TV movie of your life?
Sandra Bullock.  Mostly just because I think she’s great.

15.  What’s your all-time favorite book?
This is such a tough question!  I’m going to go with my two most recent favorites which are The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard.  The Night Circus is such a magical story.  I never have time to re-read books but I read this one twice and I loved it even more the second time.  Destiny of the Republic is the fascinating story of President Garfield and his assassination.  Candice Millard is an amazing author.
Beth and the team in NYC at the launch of The Night Circus


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