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How is Bogdan Hrib doing lately?

Bogdan HRIB was born and lives in Bucharest. Of course, when he’s not traveling to a book fair or a scientific conference. He graduated from the Technical University of Civil Engineering in 1991, but he has not practiced even for a day. He followed his older passion for photography and worked in the Romanian press at the beginning of the ’90s. In 1993, he was among the founders of Tritonic publishing house and has since remained a book editor. In the early 2000s, he debuted with a detective novel and has since written seven more. Currently, he is an associate professor doctor at the Faculty of Management of SNSPA Bucharest and the coordinator of the Tritonic Academic Books department. He has numerous articles and has held conferences about the book market in Romania and worldwide. He does not forget his passion for crime fiction – at Tritonic Books, he also coordinates the Mystery & Thriller collection. And now… he is working on a new novel and completing a PhD on new types of businesses in the book industry.

C&B: Describe your activity!

Bogdan Hrib: I would say it’s hard to make this description because there are quite a few activities that seem different… Actually, it’s not that complicated: I’m like a car running on a four-lane highway: family and friends, passion for writing and reading, teaching work, and the work of a book editor. I signal carefully and switch (at the legal speed!) from one lane to another. Sometimes I brake… just like in life. For now, I’ve managed to handle all four. Not equally, with some stumbling, but somewhat harmoniously and quite balanced.

C&B: How would you describe the story of your evolution?

Bogdan Hrib: I don’t know if it has a certain sound. Maybe (uff, I’m lacking modesty here) it’s a kind of symphony… I followed the paths that I enjoyed and believed in, even if sometimes the satisfactions were Pyrrhic victories. In 1991, right after I finished college, I wanted to fulfill my passion for photography and worked in the press. After a while, disappointments appeared and even if the passion for photography remained, it took a step back and literature took the leading position. Since 1993, I have been a book editor for Tritonic – I edit others’ manuscripts and rejoice at the release of each book as if it were my own. Then, in the 2000s, dreaming of a strong detective literature collection with not only translations but also Romanian authors, editor Hrib thought to invent author Hrib. It wasn’t quite out of nothing, in adolescence I had put words on paper, then in college I visited the SF club “Solaris” at the Student House a few times. And so in 2006, the first novel “The Greek Connection” appeared, putting Stelian Munteanu to work, my main character in six novels since. Well, to be honest, the first published volume was a salad recipe book, a volume long exhausted that I would like to republish, but there was never time. I handle a few dozen titles annually… I hardly have time for gastronomy anymore, although (maybe this would be a constant of my professional activity) there’s always a solution to satisfy multiple cravings, passions, pleasures, because that’s how the collective volume (with detective stories) titled “Gastro Noir” appeared. And an old passion resurfaces at some point again: I obtained a PhD in media and cinematography about photojournalism in Romania. And in 2018, I published a volume about books: “Self-Editor. Management in the Book Industry“. So the passions remain the same, as I said above, I switch from one lane to another and, in turn, each of them has its moment of prima donna.

C&B: What were your visions in childhood/adolescence and what are they now?

Bogdan Hrib: I don’t know what I should answer to a question about visions. I believed and still believe in family and friends, in education through documentation and personal experience. There have always been obstacles and roads that seemed to lead nowhere. Maybe in childhood and adolescence, I believed that life is a long race, but without major obstacles. After 1989, when I collided with what we call capitalism and market economy, I learned that it’s not all about ideas, opportunities, and work, I learned about unemployment and crises… And fatigue, stress, and disappointing people, and greed and stupidity. I started (like all young people) with ideals and dreams riding on white, fluffy clouds, I learned that stormy times come, with lightning and rain. Sorry, I became pathetic, but somehow I hope I answered.

C&B: What are the life and activity principles you use?

Bogdan Hrib: I try to only engage in activities for which I have previously prepared. If I intend to start something new… then I need a lot of research, whether it’s a university course or a new novel. For each course, I read many works and adapt my speech on the go by discussing with students, and in the literary area, I never avoid asking for the advice of a specialist if I don’t know how to approach an action or a situation. Detective novels have very serious and well-informed readers, you can’t fool them. For the novel “Somalia, mon amour“, whose action obviously took place in… Somalia, I couldn’t go there (in general, I don’t write about places I haven’t seen) and had to contact African press agencies, tell them I’m a writer interested in the area, and ask them to help me with grassroots information. Even if the volume seems to many a story about pirates, and to others just a love novel, it hides many press articles and history volumes. It seems that the atmosphere turned out so well that I was asked how I managed to get there… I answered: I read a lot.

C&B: Did pandemic and economic crises influence your activity?

Bogdan Hrib: Yes, the economic crisis of 2009-2012 had a major impact on the publishing house. It caught us with large stocks at a time when sales dropped dramatically. It was hard to recover, only around 2015 did we feel we were floating safely. But there was (I think now, I wasn’t too sure then) also a good part: we gave up many costly translations and gave a chance to Romanian authors. Not just Tritonic, many Romanian publishers turned to local authors. So even if we felt a strong economic blow, culturally it was a win for everyone. If you look around now, you’ll discover a very, very rich Romanian literature today, whether it’s poetry, prose, or theater. As for the pandemic… we were prepared for a new crisis, with smaller stocks and distribution through online bookstores. To be honest, we were expecting a new (maybe a bit smaller than the previous) economic crisis, but then the pandemic hit. Even if the number of new titles published in 2020 and 2021 was slightly reduced, we pressed the promotion pedal and sales were satisfactory. A study I’m working on now, for which I analyzed over 500 responses to a questionnaire regarding, among other things, changes in reader preferences during and after the pandemic, revealed that the changes are minor. True readers have the same cravings, even if they have to spend less money on books, for very present and objective economic reasons.

C&B: Can you tell us about amusing situations from your activity?

Bogdan Hrib: Yes, I’m thinking of two related to books. I was at the Gaudeamus autumn fair and had just sold a beautiful, hardcover copy of the volume (for which I am a co-author) “The Manuscript’s Curse“; with the most photogenic smile on my lips, I asked the gentleman if he would like an autograph. He replied in one breath: “God forbid, how could you dirty my book!” and left. I was left speechless. And another story, maybe a bit sadder. I was in Râșnov, one summer, right in the fortress, where in a military tent we were selling Tritonic books at the Film Festival. A kid, shyly browsing fantasy volumes and seeming undecided, was accompanied by his mother. The lady mother couldn’t stand it anymore and after about seven-eight minutes snapped at him: “Finish, dear, with these foolishnesses and let’s go, your father is waiting for us at the beer!” I had no reply then, although I wished I could have offered the child a book as a gift.

C&B: You have in front of you a potential client/partner or employer. What is the phrase with which you convince them?

Bogdan Hrib: The phrase is simple: “I know exactly what you’re talking about and can provide you with a complete and correct solution.” Sometimes, however, the client/partner doesn’t really know what they want. In the publishing area, at Tritonic, I’ve often encountered authors who didn’t know exactly what they wanted to achieve by publishing a manuscript… Of course, it’s just an example, but I believe that when you want something, it’s good to have at least a clear picture of the final target. One more clarification: sometimes the solutions are sad. For example: “The manuscript is weak, maybe you should read more on this topic.” And some get upset.

C&B: What advice do you have for those just starting out or undecided?

Bogdan Hrib: I think two are most important: to educate and inform themselves as well as possible from the most credible and competent sources and, second, to surround themselves with people from whom they will always have something to learn and something to learn. Summarizing: to be aware that always on a certain subject there is someone better informed and better prepared. Find out who it is and listen to them, and if they feel like them, to follow them.

But see, to fulfill the above, we should have time for continuous evaluations, to own a well-structured value scale, and all these can come from a well-structured basic educational system.

C&B: What is your opinion about society and its evolution?

Bogdan Hrib: I admit: the current development of society in general doesn’t really make me think of planning and predictability. It seems to me that the speed at which society is now developing can lead at certain moments to hasty decisions and major errors. I think we should take breaks to evaluate deeper strategies that involve more of society, the social, the human component. Sometimes I believe we need a new renaissance, because in these years, where technology fills our lives and minds, it seems we forget to be human. I don’t think we should make only rational decisions, on technically or technologically analyzed criteria, I believe there are moments when affection, the human, or, to put

it more concretely, human solidarity should tip the balance. Think about what the Renaissance meant for humanity… art, culture, education… I think it’s time for Renaissance No. 2 and not 2.0.



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