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A marketing shift: Ryan Chapman leaves FSG for Penguin

April 10, 2012 |  8:28 am

Ryan Chapman, who has been heading up digital marketing at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, will depart to become marketing director at the Penguin Press. Chapman posted the news on his Tumblr; he'll start at the Penguin Press on April 23.

While at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Chapman has launched new digital initiatives such as the Work in Progress blog, which provides behind-the-scenes looks at upcoming titles. It's the kind of place where you might be able to see a video of Jeffrey Eugenides talking about "The Marriage Plot" (above), read a conversation between Geoff Dyer and John Jeremiah Sullivan, or find Marilynne Robinson musing about her childhood reading experiences.

When I was a child I read books. My reading was not indiscriminate. I preferred books that were old and thick and hard. I made vocabulary lists.

Surprising as it may seem, I had friends, some of whom read more than I did. I knew a good deal about Constantinople and the Cromwell revolution and chivalry. There was little here that was relevant to my experience, but the shelves of northern Idaho groaned with just the sort of old dull books I craved, so I cannot have been alone in these enthusiasms.

Relevance was precisely not an issue for me. I looked to Galilee for meaning and to Spokane for orthodonture, and beyond that the world where I was I found entirely sufficient.

It may seem strange to begin a talk about the West in terms of old books that had nothing Western about them, and of naive fabrications of stodgily fantastical, authoritative worlds, which answered only to my own forming notions of meaning and importance. But I think it was in fact peculiarly Western to feel no tie of particularity to any single past or history, to experience that much underrated thing called deracination, the meditative, free appreciation of what ever comes under one’s eye, without any need to make such tedious judgments as “mine” and “not mine.”

That's from Robinson's latest, which came out in March: "When I Was a Child I Read Books." The roster of writers at Farrar, Straus and Giroux was powerful enough to support a destination website, and as Chapman points out, the Penguin Press has a few of its own -- Zadie Smith, Clay Shirkey and Thomas Pynchon, for example. It'll be interesting to see what comes next for the Penguin Press -- online and off.

-- Carolyn Kellogg