We caught up with Amelia Carruthers, who joined Oxford University Press in June 2015 and is now currently a Marketing Executive for the Global Online Products team. She talks to us about working on online products, her own publishing, and her OUP journey so far.
When did you start working at OUP?
I started working at OUP in the summer of 2015 as an intern with the social media team. It was a great introduction to the company, allowing me to gain an insight into so many different departments and roles. After that, I spent a year with the medicine books marketing team before joining online products this September.
What was your first job in publishing?
I moved to Oxford from Bristol, where I worked as a writer and editor for an independent publisher, specialising in rare and vintage books. As a very small company, it was a great experience, and I was even able to manage some of my own series. Origins of Fairy Tales from Around the World was my favourite project to write and research; a series looking at folkloric tales and their adaptations over time.
What’s the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning?
Try to avoid the temptation of hot breakfasts in the canteen. Limited success rates.
What is the strangest thing currently on or in your desk?
Two very large, very heavy, owl book-ends. They were a present from my mum that I’ve never quite found the energy to carry home – put to great use when I worked in books marketing, but somewhat redundant now I deal solely in online products!
If you didn’t work in publishing, what would you be doing?
I very narrowly escaped a life in academia, having left a PhD in Modern History to come to Oxford, and have always enjoyed arts-writing. I still run an arts blog discussing all things art and philosophy in my spare time. Despite this, my dream ‘alternative’ job has always been working in a bakery, preferably in the South of France with baguettes and bicycles (with a possible bee-hive too, I’ll see how it goes).
Open the book you’re currently reading and turn to page 75. Tell us the title of the book, and the third sentence on that page.
Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse:
“The “man” of this concordat, like every other bourgeois ideal, is a compromise, a timid and artlessly sly experiment, with the aim of cheating both the angry primal mother Nature and the troublesome primal father Spirit of their pressing claims, and of living in a temperate zone between the two of them.”
What is the longest book you’ve ever read?
Probably Crime and Punishment at 720 pages, which is also one of my favourite books. I was going to go for Montaigne’s Essays at 1,360 pages, but there’s still a few I haven’t finished. ‘Of Thumbs’ is one of the shortest and strangest – definitely worth a read.
What is your favourite animal?
Dogs. I grew up with two of the loveliest black Labradors, one of whom (Muffin) is still around — tottering about the house with the greyest of beards. She had her moment of fame in an OUP animals post.
What will you be doing once you’ve completed this Q&A?
Putting together some quizzes, maps and timelines — on subjects as varied as Shakespearean pronunciation, ‘quotes of the year’, world nuclear forces, and ‘the life and times of Samuel Pepys’. This is a really enjoyable part of my job — getting to create all manner of fun content. Apart from that, going over the strategy documents I’ve written over the past couple of weeks, and trying to put some plans into action!
What is your favourite word?
I love crazy German words that don’t have a direct English translation – is that cheating? Things like Treppenwitz (literally meaning staircase joke) – the witty retort that inevitably comes to mind two hours after a tricky conversation, walking up the staircase at home. Or Fremdschämen (exterior shame) – the uncontrollable feeling of cringing on someone else’s behalf, whilst witnessing an embarrassing situation.
Tell us about one of your proudest moments at work.
When I first started at OUP, walking through the building’s grand columned entrance for the first time was pretty special. The lovely send-off and kind words from all my colleagues when I moved departments also made me feel very proud, and grateful too.
How would you sum your job up in 3 words?
Exciting, varied, and busy.
Featured image credit: Oxford, Street, England by Keem1201. Public Domain via Pixabay.