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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Staff Spotlight: Joan Berge

Joan Berge with her daughters, Claire and Annie, and her husband, Jeff

Joan Berge

Occupation/role at Stone Arch Books:
President. I am responsible for providing strategic leadership for the company by working with other management and staff to establish long-range goals, strategies, plans, and policies.

Years at Stone Arch:
Since the beginning! Stone Arch Books was just a gleam in my eye for most of 2005. Back then, we had a staff of 5 creating 34 titles, a catalog and other marketing materials, and everything else that goes into launching a new imprint.

BA, Business and finance, The College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, MN

What's your favorite SAB book?
I have really enjoyed being involved in the Jake Maddox sports titles. I particularly like Free Throw and Full Court Dreams. Both of my daughters played basketball from age 5 through high school (and my college girl is still playing, although she spends most of her time on the bench) and I recognize the themes in both these stories. Hopes and dreams, competition within the team and with other teams, and self-imposed expectations are all part of my girls’ experience with this game. These books brought back so many memories!

What was your favorite book when you were a kid?
It was From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg. I received the book as a gift from my much older brother who was away at college. I suppose this is one of the reasons is still resonates with me—he thought of me! In addition, the whole idea of a child in the big city, in such beautiful surroundings . . . my imagination went wild!

What were you like as an elementary/middle-school student?
I guess my siblings would say that I was that weird combination of studiousness and trouble-seeking. As the seventh child, I had two things to live up to: the grades and intelligence of the older kids, and the clever antics that they had all pulled. I think I pulled it off. Good thing my parents had seen it all by the time I came around; nothing rattled them!

What's your favorite thing to do in your free time?
Traveling, shopping, spending time with my adult daughters and my husband, and of course reading! I recently finished Pillars of the Earth (900 pages) and World Without End (1100 pages) by Ken Follett. These, combined with my daughter’s interests, have got me going on reading more about the Middle Ages, especially the lives of the Saints.

Tell us a memorable Stone Arch Books moment from the past year.
Every week something memorable happens. It was truly a memorable experience for me two weeks ago, when PLA was in Minneapolis. Because it was here, I was able to send the whole staff to experience a tradeshow and interact with book lovers and librarians. I was pleased and encouraged to watch my team soak up this opportunity. It was evident to me, and I hope to our public library customers, that everyone at Stone Arch Books, from the designers, to the editors, to the marketing department, takes our mission seriously and wants to know how to better deliver to our readers and to these gate-keepers. The commitment and excitement in their work thrills me! I am so lucky to have such a motivated staff!

What’s the best part of your job?

The staff, the customer, the product, the thrill of success . . . it’s hard to identify just one part that is the best part.

What’s the hardest part of your job?
I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that it may incriminate me!

This is the third post in a multi-part series that spotlights the members of the Stone Arch Books staff.

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