English Major Abbe Wright ’07 is a senior editor at Read It Forward/ Penguin Random House. She was just named as a finalist to the Publisher’s Weekly Rising Star List.
She attended her first book party after moving from various roles at Condé Nast to the books department at O, the Oprah Magazine. She immediately thought, “Oh, these are my people. I’m a book person.”
In 2015, she learned about Read It Forward, Crown’s publisher-agnostic online community whose mission, Wright notes, is to help readers find the “literary loves of their lives” and to “build community around books.” She says she knew it would be a perfect fit and was hired that year as editorial lead, back when, as she describes it, Read It Forward was “essentially a place where people could win a free book, with some editorial content.”
Wright’s job was a complete redesign and revamp of the editorial content. Under her leadership, the enterprise has become “a seven-days-a-week content machine that offers book recommendations galore, author-and-editor-curated bookshelves, giveaways, reading lifestyle pieces, and thematic essays series,” according to Kristin Fritz, v-p, executive editor of content marketing at Penguin Random House (Crown is a division of PRH).
Wright, Fritz says, “works at breakneck speed, churning out every manner of book-adjacent content driving into the site’s tripod goals: site traffic, subscriber acquisition, and book sales,” resulting in 163% year-over-year growth in unique visits to the site since she has been at the helm. For Wright, this growth has meant a very recent promotion, just before press time, to senior editor.
Next year will bring a new dimension with the Clarkson Potter publication of a Read It Forward book journal. In addition to journal pages for readers to record any and all reflections about books, it offers a plenitude of book lists that are the core of the Read It Forward experiences, Wright notes. The lists include books to make readers laugh or cry, books with feminist themes, the classics, and so on.
Wright believes that reader trust has been built by Reader It Forward’s commitment to remaining publisher-agnostic. “Our readers don’t feel marketed to,” she says. “As a conduit between readers and books that will deliver this magic, I feel like a wizard.” — Liz Hartman