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Mon, 07 Dec 2009 06:36
Based in Farringdon, Duckworth is an independent publisher with a general trade list and an academic list. Founded in 1898 by Gerald Duckworth, Virginia Woolf's half-brother, Duckworth publishes literary and commercial fiction and non-fiction, including history, biography and memoir, by authors including Beryl Bainbridge, John Bayley, Nigel Lawson, Max Brooks and Arthur Phillips. Duckworth Academic, which incorporates the Bristol Classical Press imprint, features scholarly monographs and student texts in Archaeology, Greek and Latin Classics, Ancient and Medieval History, and Ancient Philosophy. Its extensive backlist includes school and university texts in Latin, Greek, Russian, French, German and Spanish language and literature. Duckworth is owned by Peter Mayer, former CEO of Penguin, and is associated with the Overlook Press in New York.
The Book Depository: What/who do you see as your primary market?
Duckworth: It really depends on the book. Over the academic and general lists we publish such a huge range of titles that there is something for all kinds of readers, whether they are interested in history, politics, contemporary fiction, science, biography, current affairs... or zombie hordes. There is a certain eccentric Englishness about our heritage as a company, and we have brought back into print a number of Duckworth's older titles, such as the beautiful editions of Heath Robinson's collected illustrations.
The Book Depository: What are the principal challenges/opportunities you see at the moment in the business of publishing books?
Duckworth: As a small business we have always faced the kinds of restrictions that the larger companies are only now starting to experience in tough economic times. We don't pay huge advances, so rather than competing with celebrity memoirs, we are forced to be innovative and imaginative, and sometimes to go against the grain -- for example in publishing Nigel Lawson's An Appeal to Reason, which challenged popular opinion about climate change. As an independent we have a lot of freedom in that sense. We are always on the lookout for good books that have been overlooked by larger houses, and for example in the case of the recent Buffett: The Biography, bringing acclaimed titles back into print for a new generation of readers.
The Book Depository: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?
Duckworth: It could be summarised as "instinct", really -- sometimes it's simply that we feel so strongly about an author's writing that we want to give copies to everyone we know; sometimes it's that a book addresses a specific issue in a timely way; sometimes it's a compelling and original idea. Ideally, it's all three.
The Book Depository: What books are you most proud of having published?
Duckworth: We are of course proud of all our books. But we are particularly pleased to have on our list Arthur Phillips, whom the Washington Post called "one of the best writers in America"; also the young writer Eleanor Thom, whose debut The Tin-Kin has just won the Scottish First Book of the Year; we are delighted, too, to be re-issuing the wonderful spy novels of Charles McCarry.
Julia Child's charming memoir My Life in France has delighted many readers, and Max Brooks's hugely popular zombie titles have now sold over a million copies worldwide. And, of course, we are immensely proud of our highly respected academic list.
The Book Depository: What books are you working on right now?
Duckworth: We have just published Max Brooks's Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks, our very first graphic novel, and Richard Neville's classic memoir of the 1960s Hippie Hippie Shake, updated with a new introduction and a fantastic new cover.
On our spring list we're looking forward to Number Freak, Derrick Niederman's addictive book packed with number trivia, amusing facts and puzzles, Iain Hollingshead's new novel Beta Male, about four commitment-phobic men who live in fear of turning thirty, and Anil Ananthaswamy's The Edge of Physics, which blends enthralling travelogue with an investigation into cutting edge cosmology.
And looking further into the future, J.J. Connolly's Viva La Madness, the fantastic long-awaited sequel to Layer Cake.
Mon, 07 Dec 2009 05:50
Each Monday, here on Editor's Corner, I'm going to take a look at some of the news that has been dominating the book industry in the preceding week.
- for the key role he played "in crafting the Google Book Search settlement, Bertelsmann Inc.'s Richard Sarnoff is PW's Person of the Year for 2009"
- a judge "has ruled in favor in Stephenie Meyer and Hachette Book Group, dismissing Jordan Scott's claim of copyright infringement. Scott had accused Meyer of plagiarism. The Honorable Otis D. Wright II of the U.S. District Court said in his ruling that Breaking Dawn and Scott's 2006 vampire novel The Nocturne have little in common and that the 'characters in the two works are vastly different'"
- the real and the virtual "mesh in Penguin Young Readers Group's new campaign to promote Vampire Academy Signature Edition... The campaign employs Augmented Reality (AR), a new wave of interactive online technology that brings a flat image to life with additional content when the image is held up to a Webcam. According to Penguin, this is the first time that a U.S. book publisher has used this technology as a marketing tool"
- in a unanimous vote this week, "the Board of Mystery Writers of America (MWA) voted to cut Harlequin and all of its imprints from the organization's influential Approved Publishers list"
- Plastic Logic "has partnered with a host of new magazines, including Popular Science, PC World, Macworld, CIO, Network World, Computerworld, and Technology Review -- making these publications available for the QUE reader. The digital device will be unveiled in early January, an ultra-thin 1/3 inch thick device the size of a piece of paper. The reader will also have digital partnerships with Financial Times, USA TODAY, Detroit Free Press, and Detroit News"
Posted by Mark
Mon, 07 Dec 2009 04:54
Each Monday, here on Editor's Corner, I run through the latest issue of the Bookseller magazine and pick out the bits and pieces of book industry news that catch my eye.
This quick round-up of book stuff is culled from the pages of last Friday's 4th December issue and via the Bookseller website:
- publishers "are hopeful of emerging unscathed from Borders' collapse be recouping debts of between £5m and £7m"
- booksellers "suffered their second worst month of 2009 in November despite increased discounts, as Christmas traffic failed to show and celebrity non-fiction bombed. The failure of Christmas to 'build-up' in November has been attributed as one of the causes of the collapse of Borders..."
- Borders' "collapse could lead to more than £35m in sales permanently lost to the book trade, as around half its market share consisted of incremental trade"
- librarians "are warning that government proposals to slash the Public Library Subsidy (PLS) scheme could damage the public's access to information about government activities"
- Culture minister Margaret Hodge "was strongly criticised as she launched the latest stage of a libraries modernisation review that has been in progress for more than a year... shadow culture minister Ed Vaizey brand[ed] it 'a complete and utter waste of time'"
- widespread approval "has greeted the publication... of the decisive report into the Wirral Library Service... The report found Wirral council's plan to close libraries this year was 'in breach of its statutary duties'"
- the "cooks have defeated the freemasons, as Jamie Oliver beats Dan Brown to second place in the ranking of biggest selling authors of the Noughties
- Quercus "has fully repaid the short-term capital it sought from its majority shareholder Pentland Group, six months after the funding had been negotiated... the company said they expected full-year results to be 'materially ahead of current market expectations'"
- Jonathan Littell "has beaten stiff competition from Philip Roth, Nick Cave and Paul Theroux to the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction award for his novel The Kindly Ones"
- today is "Mega Monday" set to be "the busiest shopping day for online retailers as shoppers spend their last pay cheque before Christmas"
Fri, 04 Dec 2009 06:18
Today's advent calendar selection, he tells us, "comes with added video. It is eight minutes long but, trust me, these are eight minutes that any book lover will delight in."
Sadly those beautiful handmade editions are a little bit out of my price range but thankfully, just in time for Christmas, Chronicle Books have issued an impressive trade edition which captures much of the intricacy and wonder of the original.
Inspired by the chance discovery of an old Pictorial Webster's Dictionary, John M. Carrera, a bookbinder and printer, decided to recreate this wonderful old book and embarked upon a ten year odyssey which is outlined in the video above.
Locating the archive of all the old engraving blocks he catalogued and restored them, eventually getting to the point where he could begin reprinting, by hand, hundreds of pages. Seriously, if you haven't clicked play on the video yet do it now. It is one of the best things you will see this year. I guarantee it.
I am struggling to think of any book lover I know who wouldn't find this volume a complete delight. Any artist or designer either for that matter. If you do decide to give it to someone this Christmas you should probably include a link to the video as well.
Pictorial Webster's: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities by John M. Carrera is out now.
Fri, 04 Dec 2009 05:26
After the breakdown of a turbulent relationship, Frank moves from Canberra to a shack on the east coast once owned by his grandparents. He wants to put his violent past and bad memories of his father behind him. In this small coastal community, he tries to reinvent himself as someone capable of regular conversation and cordial relations. He even starts to make friends, including a precocious eight year old named Sal. But it is not that easy for him to let go of the past. Leon is the child of European immigrants to Australia, living in Sydney. His father loves Australia for becoming their home when their own country turned hostile during the Second World War. His mother is not so comforted by suburban life in a cake shop. As Leon grows up in the 50s and 60s, his watches as his parents' lives are broken after his father volunteers to fight in the Korean War. Leon himself goes from working in the shop, sculpting sugar dolls for the tops of wedding cakes, to killing young men as a conscripted machine-gunner in Vietnam. In the fall out from the war, Leon thinks he might be able to make a new life with his woman, make a baby, live by the sea in a small shack. But something watches from the cold shade of the teeming bush. Set in eastern Australia with its dark trees and blinding light, where the land is old but its wounds are still wet, this beautifully realized debut tells a story of fathers and sons, their wars and the things they will never know about each other. It is about the things men cannot say out loud and the taut silence that fills up the empty space.
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