Mailchimp Launches a Virtual Book Festival to Showcase Diverse Voices

Kin and Code & Theory do the write thing

Mailchimp champions emerging writers and the vibrant marketplace of ideas with "By the Books," a virtual festival showcasing new works and exclusive multimedia content.

"When we pick up a book by a fresh new voice, it reshapes our perspective," says Sophie Ozoux, cofounder of Kin, which devised the initiative's strategy and communications, with Code & Theory handling site development. "It gives us a different lens to see the world through. Something new to stand up for."

"By the Books" went live on Monday. Along with a list of diverse books curated by podcasters Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow, the site features critical write-ups selected by author/educator Ashley C. Ford, conversations with authors such as Cathy Park Hong and Danez Smith, films about Maurice Sendak and other literary figures, and an original podcast, "The Books That Changed Us," hosted by Longform's Aaron Lammer and Max Linsky.

Atlanta-based Mailchimp has long sponsored the Decatur Book Festival, but with this year's live event canceled amid the pandemic, the email marketing juggernaut decided to move its efforts online. "We're all spending a lot more time at home these days, so it feels great to provide more options for entertainment and education," Ozoux says.

"By the Books" also gives up-and-coming authors an outlet in lieu of readings and personal appearances. "At a time when they're losing opportunities to share their voices and stories, Mailchimp is supporting them and investing in bringing their point of view to new audiences," Ozoux says.

Moreover, the festival's creators aim to provide varied perspectives and spark serious conversations at this moment of social upheaval.

"It's both exciting and refreshing to see authentic, diverse voices with unique perspectives to share being championed at this moment in time," adds Kwame Taylor-Hayford, also a Kin cofounder.

All books featured on the site and made available to purchase through Bookshop.org, which facilitates sales through independently owned businesses. The venue's color palette draws inspired from Henri Matisse's 1907 "Flowers" painting, suggesting the joys of a summer reading list.

Despite a dearth of intellectual vigor in some circles—Trump doesn't so much write his tweets as he vomits them into the ether—thoughtful storytelling and book-related programs are on the rise.

For lighter fare, Stella Artois recently launched an author series narrated by Andy Cohen, while those seeking deeper dives into the issues might peruse the Racial Justice Bookshelf, which lets you buy anti-racist titles from Black-owned bookstores.

CREDITS

Kin credits
Co-Founder - Kwame Taylor-Hayford
Co-Founder - Sophie Ozoux
Project Lead - Mackenzie Alexander
Creative Director - Dave Ramirez
Creative Director - Nicole Karalekas
Designer - Grace Diebel
Motion Designer - Habin Koh

Code & Theory credits
Jacob Venditto – Interaction Designer
Jennifer Dang – Senior QA engineer
Michael Conley – Tech Director
Chris Anderson – Senior Frontend Developer
Anton Kolisnyk – Associate Design Director
Libby Carespodi – Senior Producer
Chenta Yu – Group Director, Design & Concept
Brent Buntin – Chief Marketing Officer
Dave DiCamillo – Chief Technology Officer

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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