December Showers and Sunshine
Our beloved colleagues (from left) Ben, Arin, Weilin, Jen and Ariane (and missing Glen), who are leaving for other shores
One December afternoon during office hours, four years ago, I received a text from foopy, then marketing manager for Ethos Books. Her words exuded the familiar cheer of sunshine, while the edges of her message tingled with newness—“KG, may I speak to you about something?” Instinctively, I knew foopy wanted to discuss her plans for the future. By then, she had been with Ethos for four years, having gone full-time after our internship stint.
“Yes”, I remember replying to foopy with enthusiasm: if she is still capable of hatching new ideas for work, whatever these may be, then our work culture is at least one that has not deadened her soul. Our chat would turn out to be foopy’s point of departure from Ethos Books; she left at the end of January 2020, to pursue her love for baking as a professional.
This episode in an earlier stage of my life as publisher is returning to me now, as I bid farewell to six colleagues. My hope for each of them is that they are leaving with their ideals strengthened by the wisdom of experience, with memories of times enjoyable also because they were challenging, and with the joy of having worked alongside teammates, authors, editors and industry compatriots who are alive to the meaning of our publishing work.
Publisher, Ethos Books and Pagesetters
Read our publisher’s full note on Ethos’ departures and publishing plans
Ethos was my very first “real” job. Almost 3 years ago (3!!), I joined as a marketing intern after graduating into the pandemic with zero hopes and expectations, and now here we are. Ethos has given me the space, love and guidance to grow from a very lost young adult to one that's slightly less lost but more confident about and open to the possibilities of the world. I’ve crossed paths with some of the best people here: authors, passionate educators, my wonderful colleagues who are the embodiment of warmth and care, and all of our readers for giving our words a home. I will be eternally grateful for Ethos and this community.
All my love,
“Consider rivers./ They are always en route to/ Their own nothingness. From the first moment/ They are going home.” —Eavan Boland, “Anna Liffey”
“I was a voice,” I said in my first Attunement letter when I first joined Ethos in 2020. It seems Eavan Boland’s poetry, like a river, will once again carry me through this next season of life. Ethos has been where I’ve found my own editorial voice, and in that discovery, I am now one of many voices in this wonderful community we have built with each other. May our paths cross again, and may we always find ourselves en route to home, to wherever we ought to be.
At the beginning of this journey, fresh from graduating, I expected nothing more than a three-month internship. Because of the kindness of the publisher and of the team, those three months became four years and eight months spent assembling publications from all sorts of places, people and times in history, alongside numerous collaborators and colleagues that have become friends. I enjoyed the process of making books then, and I won't stop enjoying it now.
But the winds shift, and seasons change; the time for harvest becomes a time for sowing. I have gleaned so much from my time here at Pagesetters, and will not soon forget the skills I learned and honed in this place that welcomed me like a family.
I thank each one of my colleagues—KG, Suning, Jen, Foopy, Justin, Bee Choo, Alvin, Wai Han, Mr Fong, Bee Yan, Glen, Wei Lin, Arin, Cass, Ariane, even Pethos, as well as every intern I’ve worked with, for coming alongside me as we tackled challenge after challenge.
Goodbye, dear Reader, and don’t stop reading.
I write this note to you having packed finish the books we’ll be bringing for our festive market. It will be the last time I’m packing books for an Ethos event. The realisation only hit me this morning as I was packing books into suitcase, box and wrapping paper, so I tried to savour the action and the meaning behind it. For all the times you’ve seen us out there whether it’s at a book launch, a school, at The Projector or the library, the hands that packed those books were my hands, and quite often the one who trolleyed/carried the books to you at the sale were mine as well (s/o to Ariane, Wai Han and Kah Gay too!). These hands have been prone to weekly paper cuts from all that, and I think I’m the one who uses the plasters from the first aid box the most! I will miss the days where I get to pack books for delivery, and when I finish taping shut the last box, I realise that it’s already 6PM. I really looked forward to those days at work because time always flew by~ I will also miss having an excuse to sneak down to Kinokuniya on a late afternoon to drop off a delivery at their office so that I can browse their bookshelves.
It’s been a wonderful privilege and joy to care for our books & authors and to bring them to you dear reader. I leave you with an unapologetically cliché quote that has always stuck with me from a beloved childhood manga:
“Partings are the beginnings of new meetings. Beginnings happen because there are endings.” (Fruits Basket, Natsuki Takaya)
My very first Attunement letter was nerve-wrecking, as I had never written a newsletter, to so many. I fretted over words, wanting to make them count. Over time, I realised that trusting my self was all that mattered. I write to you, as I would a dear friend, and hope that these words soothe you in tenebrous moments. You are a vital part of Ethos, and I thank you, you who have read our words carefully, you who have reached out to share your precious thoughts and resonances, you who carry ethos in your heart. Through you, light takes form and moves through impossible places. The written word has always brought me home, but now I find myself quite wordless with emotion, and instead home my gratitude and love with you.