Ask Rick Christian: A Book Manifesto

This is our regular column of frequently (and not-so-frequently) asked questions with Alive’s Founder and CEO, Rick Christian. Over the weeks, we’ll cover everything from negotiation strategy and all things literary, lying, his manliest possession and most terrifying moment, his own ultimate demise … and everything in between! 

What’s behind your zeal for good books and the authors who write them? You’ve invested your life in both, but what fuels this passion?

I could expound on this at great length around a roaring bonfire, but in the absence of this or a live mic and audience of fellow bookies, I’ve condensed my thoughts into a simple manifesto. It’s my love letter to books, authors, and the publishing industry in which I’ve been immensely privileged to spend my life. So here goes:

A Book Manifesto

We believe in books.

Books are a witness. To ideas that move nations and shape history and hearts. To stories that define who we’ve been and will become.

Books transform us. Through them we can time-travel centuries behind or far into the future. As long as we read or are read to, we can visit any land, galaxy or era; inhabit any body or mind; speak any language; taste any food or think any thought.

Books enliven us. Through them, we can live as many lives as we please. Lives that exceed the boundaries of our experience, knowledge and imagination.

Books invigorate us. They educate and inspire us. They transform us from the inside out. They wake us up and make us alive again. They let us dream and be daring. They help us believe again, love and laugh again, have fun and be adventurous again.

Books keep us up all night, causing us to doze off in class or at work the next day. But when our heads hit the desk, we’ll have smiles on our faces.

We work with teams of people to build books out of trees and thin air, out of wood pulp and digitized 1s and 0s. From glass and metal and plastic. We help build books from 26 letters that make nouns and verbs that become sentences and ideas that set hearts on fire.We love books in all shapes, sizes, and formats: crisp new hardcovers with glossy jackets, yellowed paperbacks with bathtub stains, and devices with on-and-off switches.

We believe books should be read aloud to each other in the hum of everyday life and read silently in the stillness.

Books are for secret getaways, public read-alongs, and bedtime adventures. Books are for lifelong mates and seatmates on a subway, couples, singles, classes, you and you alone.

In an age of distraction, books provide focus.

In an age of loneliness, books introduce us to new and old companions.

In an age of disruption, books offer peace.

In an age of complacency, books are a call to action.

Books are life itself.

We care about books because books build bonds. Books hold us together. Books create sparks that turn into flames—igniting new ways of thinking, tamping down old ways of being so they can be rekindled afresh for this day.

We build books like we build a campfire, with stick-thoughts and twig-words. Then we sit around them and marvel. A book-fire can be many things: small, enormous, smoldering, blazing, annoying, inspiring, destructive, cleansing.

We believe in collaboration. Author + Agent + Publisher + Retailer + Reader = a team. We share risks and rewards. We ensure authors are well paid because they are worthy of their labor. Because we want them to continually create. We champion authors because authors write the words that ignite the blaze.

We see changes in culture, technology, and business trends as opportunities, not threats. We adhere to the best of the old and embrace the best of the new. We will experiment and fail, then experiment better and succeed.

We work with authors who create books that bond people and spark life. Together. We are Alive.

Copyright © 2016 by Rick Christian