A Conversation with Kirby

Kirby is Project Manager for Consumer Insights. He analyzes web statistics, sales data, and surveys to help connect readers to great books. With this role, Kirby brings a unique perspective to the time he spends volunteering in the Penguin Shop.



Q: Does volunteering in the Penguin Shop help you do your job better?

A: I think that volunteering in the Shop – just getting access to consumers and what they want and what they’re interested in and the real life experience of shopping and loving books, is just a great window into how people are actually interacting with the stuff we sell. It’s one of those things where it’s easy to get trapped in kind of a bubble. Where we’re like “why didn’t this book work?” and then you see somebody pick it up in the store and there’s so much information just in the way they hold the book and the way they came to it and that’s something you don’t get everywhere.


Q: Why did you choose to volunteer in the Penguin Shop?

A: You get into the messy, real-world way that people interact with books being in the Shop. I feel like everyone who wants to get into publishing, they should spend some time trying to hand sell books, because it’s an eye opener. People interact with books in very different ways and it’s very easy to look at the way that you interact with books and project that on other people and the store kind of helps get out of that.


Q: What is your favourite thing about the Penguin Shop?

A: It’s a really nice space, and such a small, kind of secret space, like you wouldn’t necessarily – I can imagine people walking in the store not really knowing anything about it and being like “oh, what’s this crazy thing.”


Q: Why do you think people should come to the Penguin Shop?

A: It’s all been curated by hand, all the books that are in the store are in there for a reason. We think they’re great, you know, we stand behind them.


Kirby’s Staff Picks

“Whenever I’m in the Shop and I’m sort of looking around and waiting for another customer to come in I go to this book, The Lost City of Z by David Gran. And it’s a story of a Victorian explorer. He wants to explore this crazy part of the Amazon jungle. The story is so unbelievably well-written and the journey itself is so nuts and I kind of go back to it every once in awhile when I’m sort of feeling down and mopey and sorry for myself and like, you know, at least I’m not a Edwardian explorer. “

 The Lost City of Z by David Grann

“I think one of the reasons I work at this company is Dave Eggers’ Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It’s just a book that came along at the right time of my life and felt like he was sort of speaking directly to me. I’d never read anything like it. Just such stylistic innovation, such amazingly well-drawn characters and just set in a world that was, I don’t know, just very familiar, but also very rich with emotional meaning and, I don’t know, just changed my life in its own quiet way. But, yeah, that was that first book that, you know, I couldn’t believe that it was capable of delivering such a transformative experience.”

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers