Read Your Way Through Tangier, Part One
Ahead of the 2008 edition of the RMSI conference, I had the chance to interview one of the men responsible for making the place what it is today: Michael Collins. Here’s part one.
It’s hard to believe that almost twenty years have gone by since the first editions of the RMSI and other conferences started to take place.
After a twenty-year silence since they were released, you’d think that, when RMSI came back in 1991, there was nothing going on, or at any rate, very little. But it turns out that between 1991 and 1998, the book came out five times, and during the following decade, at least seven times. The book has now been out and out for ten years, and is still at the top of the best sellers chart in its native country of the US and Canada.
Since the first edition was published, RMSI has been held at venues all over the world. Since 1996, RMSI has been running as a non-profit, with a small crew of about twenty people operating out of the old RMS headquarters in Manhattan.
That crew includes a couple of writers for The New Yorker, and a guy who runs an Internet radio show called The Listening Channel. And there’s a guy who designs websites, and an executive who does book tours, and a marketing company that does promotions. The organization has a small staff that has just gotten by. They’re trying to make the conference happen.
You can find the RMSI site, and its conference pages, at rms.org.
The conference is still happening. Last week they hosted another one on the campus of Columbia College, another in Boston this week, and are slated to do the one in New York with the NYU Law School on March 12. The conference organizers had a meeting last Saturday to discuss how to continue the RMSI project. They talked about the fact that there are more than a hundred people involved with RMSI already. In fact, more than a hundred people have contributed to the first eight years of the RMSI conference — people like the writers who contributed to the first editions, as well as the marketing people who went on to work for such companies as Dell Computers, Microsoft, and Procter & Gamble.
It’s hard to