Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Interview with Sarah Janssen, the Senior Editor of the World Almanac
1. What is new in the 2017 edition of the World Almanac? Along with the many new features including the 2016 election results and Statistical Spotlight to the results of the 2016 Olympic Games and World Series, about two-thirds of the book is either brand new or fully updated every year. This means that our readers are always getting the most up-to-date stats on the hundreds of topics covered by The World Almanac’s editors, who identify crucial new data within those topics to add to the book every year.
2. With the Internet, do we really need an almanac? Our staff is pretty much online all of their working (and maybe even waking?) hours--you’ll never hear an editor or researcher wish that there were no internet! Having so much information available and accessible digitally makes our jobs easier in a lot of ways. The work requires less in-person research (though we still do a lot of that!), and there is far more data online than we ever could have hoped even 10 years ago. But it also amplifies one of our challenges: in this era of “fake news” as the somewhat loosely defined new buzzword, information and data require a keen eye for not just accuracy and authenticity but also currency and relevance. The World Almanac’s editors review thousands of reports, publications, and datasets every year to identify what verifiable information we believe readers will find useful, if not essential, in the upcoming year and beyond.
3. How does it compare to other almanacs? What are some of the coolest features in the Almanac? My personal favorite in the new 2017 edition of The World Almanac is our new sports feature on the best teams that never “won it all”—teams with amazing regular seasons that fell short of winning the championship. It’s such a fun way to look at sports history no matter what sport you happen to follow—although Warriors fans may find it hits a little too close to home still.
4. Who is your targeted reader? Why? Do you think readers like to peruse the Almanac to discover content and facts – or do they mainly use it to look something up that they want to know the answer to? We cover so many different topics that pretty much anyone can find something interesting in The World Almanac! It’s helpful for ready reference, like looking up a celebrity birthday or the NFL rushing leader from two seasons ago, but it’s also just a great general source for a quick overview of any topic. You can find a complete copy of the U.S. constitution or a brief statistical overview and capsule history for each of the world’s 196 countries and 55 U.S. states and territories. It’s also great for alleviating boredom: flip to a random page and find information about a subject you may never have thought to google. We think of our reader as any person who is generally curious or interested about the world, and we try to include information on any topic they might have a question about.
5. What do you think is the future of book publishing when it comes to reference books? Publishing has changed a lot in the last 15 years, and I wouldn’t pretend to know what’s next. What I know for certain is that the editors of The World Almanac have already started work on the next edition, and we are excited about what’s in store for The World Almanac 2018—our 150th anniversary edition!
6. Name me up to 10 cool facts or trivia that one can find in the World Almanac. An awesome feature in the book that does just that is the “World at a Glance.” See the attachment here: