We're all about answers here, so I make a peppermint tea and try it. As expected, it's disgusting. What about Earl Grey, though? This is more hotly debated. It looks like normal tea, but dipping a biscuit into something fragranced with bergamot oil seems wrong. We don't have any in the office, though, so this remains unresolved.
In among this, I am trying to finalise the creative for an animated TV ad that airs in a week’s time. Last week, we nailed the concept and now there are a few details left to pin down. Namely, whether a lady’s scarf should be pink or purple – an area of expertise for me.
I spend most of Tuesday at The London Book Fair. Perhaps the doomsayers didn’t turn up because, while we all know traditional publishing is in for a tough time, there’s still such a buzz about it here. We’re all poised for a new kind of publishing, driven by the web but still rooted in old-fashioned storytelling. We’re adjusting – not fearing but learning from a particularly inexorable, nameless online retail giant.
Wednesday morning, I meet with my brand focus group. I am one of a team of people from across the company whose aim is to think up ways we can use the Penguin brand to strengthen our connection with our readers and consumers. I’d like to tell you all of the amazing ideas, but I’m worried you might steal them.
In the afternoon, I have a meeting with one of our most well-known authors. There’s tea and cake to celebrate her recent publication, but there are also pens and iPads as we’re already discussing campaign ideas for the next book. We’re working, but there’s such a cordial feeling in the room. It makes me realise that if there’s any aspect of publishing that will never change, it’s our author care. Data and algorithms are valuable, of course, but that personal and meaningful contribution is something that cannot be automated.
I’m lucky enough to spend Thursday evening schmoozing at the Groucho Club. We have a trade drinks party for a celebrity author whose book we are publishing in October. I get home late, and hear my mum saying that beetroot rosti and arancini canapés do not constitute a "proper meal".
In the morning, I meet up with a colleague from our editorial team and we’re straight on a train to visit the Penguin Books archive at Bristol
University. It is the 40th anniversary of one of our biggest brand authors’ first book in June, so we are hoping to source some great material for our campaign. There is some cool stuff there: old book jackets, correspondence from past editors (I’m talking handwritten memos, not e-mails) and a publicity headshot featuring some serious disco-style sideburns. Groovy.
On the train home, I make my way to the buffet car to fetch some hot drinks. They have Earl Grey! But guess what? No digestive biscuits.
Joe Yule is a marketing executive at Penguin Books