Questions for: Meera Ghanshamdas

News - Interviews Wednesday, 15th July 2020

The manager of the Moon Lane Ink CIC contributes to our Q&A series

Describe your current job
No two days are ever the same at Moon Lane. My key tasks include management of the social enterprise and bookshop, programme and outreach development, recording and reporting, publicity and marketing, financial and stock management, and educational and retail customer service.

What was your first job in the book industry?
Working at Moon Lane, and it has been an honour and a privilege to be able to use my business acumen to progress the mission of raising equality of roles, access and representation in the industry. We have really been able to change things within our local community, and this has been rewarded by how passionately our community supports us.
What's the biggest challenge in your job?
To be honest, there are many challenges I regularly face, but these are never insurmountable due to the strength of our team. We always know we can rely on each other when in need.

What are the most interesting things you're seeing at the moment in the industry?
I have always been impressed at how the industry adapts to the challenges of the time. Considering how heavily we rely on face-to-face contact, whether it be for marketing strategies or simply how bookshops operate, everyone has had to be incredibly forward-thinking at every level to make the necessary adaptations during the pandemic.

What do you think might be the next big thing?
As someone working to encourage diversity and inclusivity in the book industry, I have to resist considering themes in publishing as trends, as it can somewhat diminish individuals' experiences. What I do think is going to be of real importance in the next few years, not just in the book industry, is to focus on people's mental health and wellbeing. This will be particularly significant for young people, whose lives have been significantly impacted not just in the short term but possibly for the rest of their lives.

How do you think the industry will come out of the Covid-19 crisis?
The book industry has already made massive changes, particularly bookshops who rely largely on footfall developing online stores which have wider reach and engagement. With the switch to online marketing strategies and children's book events, we will have to question how we can reach the most vulnerable members of society.

There have been some glimmers of hope, with people using this time to read more, and many customers reporting that they have looked to books as a solace during this stressful time. While there is still a lot for us to build on, if we continue to adapt to these challenging circumstances, we could come out stronger.

What do you most like doing when you're not working?
Much like most people I work with, it goes without saying that I spend much of my free time reading. I also enjoy rock climbing, which unfortunately I haven't exactly been able to do for the past few months.

What is the best book you've read in the last year?
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. It is an intimate look at the intersection of three characters' lives, struggling with the ideas of duty, love and race. One of the main characters is wrongly incarcerated, and what follows is how this event challenges his relatively new marriage and surrounding relationships, while interweaving generational attitudes to justice and personal commitments.

What are you reading now?
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. The book is a letter from a son to his mother, but as she cannot read, it will probably never be read. Ocean Vuong is a poet, and the book fuses memoir, fiction and poetry.

How do you like to read: on screen, on paper, or do you listen to audiobooks?
Definitely on paper.