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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

May 13, 2021

Mark interviews Dr. Rachel Noorda and Dr. Kathi Inman Berens about the Immersive Media & Books 2020 Consumer Survey conducted by the Panorama Project and Portland State University.

Prior to the interview, Mark shares a word from this episode's sponsor (which includes a sample from the first narrator that Mark ever used through Findaway Voices).

You can learn more about how you can get your work distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at

Mark then shares comments from recent episodes and also a personal update.

In his discussion with Dr. Noorda and Dr. Berens, the three discuss:

  • Dr. Rachel Noorda's background at Portland State University directing the Masters book publishing program there and her route into the academic world
  • The student-run press that publishes several trade books every year, giving the students a hands-on experience in publishing
  • Dr. Kathi Inman Berens' undergrad work within publishing and her later long-term academic experience within open access publishing, digital pedagogy and related projects
  • How there isn't a lot of book publishing research out there that's not proprietary in nature
  • The origin and evolution of The Panorama Project
  • Behaviors related to "engagement" with books that don't necessarily include buying or reading them
  • How the survey was made up of people who "engaged with a book" at least once in the past 12 months
  • An OverDrive study and a 2019 PEW research study and that both estimate between 75% and 85% of people have engaged with a book in the previous year
  • How books are a very durable 500-year success story, according to Dr. Berens, that people have incredibly powerful feelings and emotions about
  • Some of the research that revealed surprising results
  • How the stats show that the suspected "show-rooming" of bricks and mortar stores that result in online (ie, Amazon) purchases is actually more of a 50/50 split. Sometimes people find books in bookstores and buy those same books online. Other times, people find the books online then buy them in bookstores. It's a two-way street
  • How, while the biggest single realm of book discoverability (20%) is from friends, that 80% of the time people are finding books from a multitude of other means
  • The difficulty of measuring or finding the typical 6 touch points a person needs to have with a book before they decide to purchase/read it
  • All of the things that happen in purchasing behavior that we (as authors and publishers, and even as consumers) are not aware of
  • How the Immersive Media report does have a specific section for authors
  • The high relevance of "genre" and "favorite author" when it comes to deciding to buy a book
  • How readers are often expecting some kind of "online access" to authors
  • The "literary citizenship" that Jane Friedman talks about in her book THE BUSINESS OF BEING A WRITER
  • And more...

After the interview Mark shares a couple of reflections about the conversation and then thanks Patrons.

Links of Interest:


Dr. Rachel Noorda is Director of Publishing and Assistant Professor of English at Portland State University. Dr. Noorda holds a PhD degree in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling and has published peer-reviewed research on various book publishing projects including book subscription boxes, independent publisher mission statements, the Portland Book Festival, and online book blurbs. She is currently writing a book (contracted with Cambridge University Press) about entrepreneurship in twenty-first century US book publishing. She has been very involved with the industry, including analyzing data and writing industry reports for PubWest, the Independent Book Publishers Association, the Book Industry Study Group, Literary Arts, and Publishing Scotland.

Dr. Kathi Inman Berens, Associate Professor of English at Portland State University, has published peer-reviewed research about digital humanities, book publishing, and digital literature. A Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, Dr. Berens conducted grant-supported research for IBM when she was faculty and a Fellow of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California. Dr. Berens studies immersive environments and transmedia experiences, consulting with Portland companies on VR medical therapies, immersive storytelling, and mobile web interface design. In her book publishing consulting and scholarship, two years of survey work provide foundational data for insights about consumer behavior at the Portland Book Festival. She is advisory council for arts non-profits Literary Arts, NW Film Center, and Oregon Storyboard.


The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0