Intern Reflections: Samantha Friskey

Each summer, Penn Press welcomes interns to introduce them to the world of academic publishing, asking them to participate in and contribute to the ongoing work of academic publishing in four departments: Acquisitions, Production, Marketing, and Business. Their valuable contributions help keep us up and running, but we hope that we are also able to give them something back: knowledge, skills, and a more complete understanding of the publishing world. At the end of their time, our interns have the opportunity to look back on their experience in a series of blog posts that we call Intern Reflections. First up, we have Samantha Friskey.

I like to joke that it amazes me that anyone could go through Catholic school and not become an English major. After all, you’re expected to read the same ancient book over and over again and analyze its every detail, the type of insane thing that only an English major would do.

I expected my religious high school to teach me about traditional sacred texts; I didn’t expect that the school’s fantastic English department would teach me how sacred even the most secular of books could be. I don’t know when I fell for books as intensely as I did. Maybe it was the moment when I purposefully read Lord of the Flies in the middle of the night to properly spook myself, or maybe it was the moment when I doused by face in reflective glitter to recite Sylvia Plath’s poem “Mirror” to my sophomore year English class. Either way, I fell deeply in love with literature, loving it with an otherworldly love that verged into the spiritual realm.

While it may seem extreme to consider a book god-like, I do. Many consider God to be infinite, and books, in their inherent nature, capture little infinities. The truth within books remains immune to the traditional linear nature of time, providing the closest thing we have to time travel. Books continuously offer an instantaneous escape to a different moment, a different mindset, or a different era. Readers may come and go, and generations may pass, but the almighty book, and the story it offers, persists. Books have no end, but rather, a spirit of immortality. In the end, how can anything within a book seem finite when you can pull back a front cover and experience it all over again?

If only this summer could be infinitely long. I can’t imagine a better summer home for a book-lover like myself than Penn Press. Within the walls of 3905 Spruce, you are literally surrounded by books, by paperwork about books, by digital files of books. For my entire life, I have devoured books, and now, books seemed to be devouring me. I was contently consumed by this literary safe-haven.

During my time as an intern in the Business and Acquisitions departments, I have had the honor of meeting so many brilliant, fascinating people with a genuine interest in and respect for the books that they’ve helped to create. Over the course of the past ten weeks, I have learned that this process of creation in is just as miraculously beautiful as the end product itself. Before a book is published, so many hands will help it become what it needs to be. Contracts will be signed, edits will be made, and book jackets will be designed. It is, in the end, a group effort, made by a group of very lovely people, who I was so lucky to have the opportunity to work with.

So how would I describe my Penn Press experience? To keep it concise, I’ll give you one word: heavenly.

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