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  • Teach Yourself

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

    Book Depository: What/who do you see as your primary market?

    Katie Roden (Director of Hodder Education's Consumer Education division): Anyone who wants to change their life by learning something new.

    BD: What are the principal challenges/opportunities you see at the moment in the business of publishing books?

    KR: There is a big challenge from the amount of free, unregulated content available online - it's never clear just how authoritative or accurate it is. Our opportunity is to offer really good content in all media, from a trusted brand.

    BD: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?

    KR: We listen to our market - customers and booksellers - and review current trends on a regular basis. We try to offer books that cover both the really popular subjectsand those that are more niche, for people with a real passion for a particular subject, like our Teach Yourself One Day Mandarin Chinese or Teach Yourself Setting Up a Small Business or Teach Yourself Knitting.

    BD: What books are you most proud of having publishing?

    KR: Our new range: Your Evening Class (Start a Small Business, Improve Your Maths, Complementary Therapies, Spanish, French). These titles offers a genuine alternative to those put off by the spiralling costs of institutional evening courses.

    I also love our parenting range (Baby Sleep, Motherhood, Feeding Your Toddler) which has fantastic content by brilliant, expert authors.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    KR: Some really exciting new language learning ranges.

    *****

    These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite Teach Yourself titles:


  • The Royal Society of Chemistry

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

    Book Depository: What/who do you see as your primary market?

    Caroline Wain: Our primary market is undoubtedly academics and people with a scientific background and a keen interest in cutting edge scientific endeavor. Our list reflects the diversity and reach of the chemical sciences covering topics from food and medical science through to energy and environmental issues. Using a range of book formats, from reference works to popular texts, our books offer access to new advances as well as, reference information and opinions in contemporary science.

    We don't leave it there though, as a modern scientific society, we are continually trying to engage a wider audience with science and we take great pleasure in working with key public figures such as Heston Blumenthal to write books which will engage readers of all ages and from all backgrounds. Heston's book Kitchen Chemistry, quite literally brings science home, offering a range of practical experiments you can do in your kitchen! Another popular title aimed at the wider public is Molecules of Murder, written by the critically acclaimed science write John Emsley, which taps into the current CSI fascination in mainstream entertainment, combining true crime with some background science in tales of adultery and murder!

    BD: What are the principal challenges/opportunities you see at the moment in the business of publishing books?

    CW: The core challenges faced by most publishers in this digital era surround electronic book publications and the internet. We are working in an arena that is changing on almost a daily basis and as our readers become more and more accustomed to reading online we are constantly reviewing and assessing the needs that our readers now have. Alongside the challenges we are facing, we see the huge opportunities developing and we are really excited about the enhanced value that some of the new delivery models are going to bring to our customers.

    BD: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?

    CW: There are many factors which influence the work which we publish. We try to reflect the work that is going in research science and to tie in where possible with issues that are currently in the public eye. For all our academic publications we take peer review very seriously and we always consult with scientific referees before clearing a book for publication. For our more popular titles, we look for topics that we know are going to attract the public’s attention, such as The Science of Chocolate or The Chemistry and Biology of Winemaking, and try to match those areas up with science writers we know will produce a jolly good read! Combining a passion for science with business sense means that we are working to advance and promote understanding of the chemical sciences at diverse levels throughout society.

    BD: What books are you most proud of having published?

    CW: The books team and I are extremely proud of all the publications we have produced and we invest a lot of time and energy into all the projects we undertake. There are two titles which stand out in particular for me though. The first would have to be, Structure Based Drug Discovery by Rod Hubbard, as it really exemplifies the importance of what we do and the impact that our publications have. In one review of the book it was written "There are very few of us who will invent a drug, but by using the techniques described, you will shorten your own odds considerably."

    The second is Molecules of Murder by John Emsley, as this title has reached a large audience, and John's unique writing style has made science truly accessible. As a team this particular project has stretched us and presented fantastic opportunities to grow and develop our list and our own skills.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    CW: We are currently working on over 90 new books for the coming year, and within those projects there is a second edition of Heston Blumenthal's book Kitchen Chemistry, which will contain fun and interesting recipes and new ways for people to take an interest in what is happening in their saucepan!

    Other great projects we are also working on include Uncommon Sense by John Emsley, explaining the roles of chemistry in various areas of life ranging from the entirely personal to the worryingly global, a second edition of the bestselling textbook Nanochemistry, and Turn On and Tune In by John Mann which explores the anthropological and sociological importance of a range of psychoactive substances including LSD, opium, heroin, cocaine, cannabis, peyote, belladonna, mandrake, and absinthe!

    *****

    These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite Royal Society of Chemistry titles:


  • University of Washington Press

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

    Book Depository: What/who do you see as your primary market?

    Pat Soden (Director, University of Washington Press): Our primary markets include scholars and students in the humanities and social sciences. The University of Washington Press is a leading publisher in the fields of Asian art, Native American material culture, anthropology, architecture, environmental history and international studies focused on Asia, the Middle East, Russia and the countries that made up the Soviet Union.

    BD: What are the principal challenges/opportunities you see at the moment in the business of publishing books?

    PS: Our most difficult challenge is to maintain and grow the market for monographs while library budgets are being severely impacted by the cost of maintaining serials.

    BD: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?

    PS: We first consider its editorial merit and fit within our publishing program followed by cost and potential return.

    BD: What books are you most proud of having published?

    PS: The University of Washington Press has published many distinguished books in its 90 year history. Most recently, Carl Theodor Dreyer's Gertrud: The Moving Word by James Schamus, producer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; The Body in Time: Figures of Femininity in Late Nineteenth Century France by Tamar Garb, Darning Lawrence Professor in Art History, University College, London; Life As Surplus: Biotechnology and Capitalism in the Neoliberal Age by Melinda Cooper, research fellow with the Centre for Biomedicine and Society, Kings College, London; and The Landscape of Words: Stone Inscriptions from Early and Medieval China by Robert Harrist, Jr., Jane and Leopold Wergild Professor of Chinese Art History at Columbia University.

    These are all excellent examples of major work by senior scholars in their fields.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    PS: Due out early in the new year is Carl Hagenbeck's Empire of Entertainments by Eric Ames. This is a fascinating study of the "P.T. Barnum of Europe," Carl Hagenbeck, who created some of Europe's greatest and most eccentric theme parks.

    Also coming soon is Money Matters: Economics and the German Cultural Imagination, 1770-1850 by Richard T. Gray, a manifesto for what the author calls "The New Economic Criticism" which applies the study of aesthetics and philosophy to economic thought.

    *****

    These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite University of Washington Press titles:


  • Conran Octopus

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

    Book Depository: What/who do you see as your primary market?

    Lorraine Dickey: Our customer shops at both Ikea and Conran shop. Understands the value of "nice things", appreciates good taste and will pay for it. Loves beautiful books and is well-informed about current trends. We target our books directly at the "design aware" consumer by making sure that the whole package delivers. So, Design: Intelligence Made Visible and Cars: Freedom, Style, Power, Motion, Colour, Everything are fantastically informative books but packaged in a very elegant way. The Interior World of Tom Dixon which we published this Autumn will be exactly what every designer, design student, or anyone who works in visual mediums will want for Xmas – set to become a design classic.

    BD: What are the principal challenges/opportunities you see at the moment in the business of publishing books.

    LD: Getting the package exactly right for the market and choosing subjects and authors who have a long shelf life and dedicated fan base. Conran Octopus is ideally placed to understand the increasing interest of the consumer in innovatively designed books. We work hard to deliver real value for many – not just in terms of packaging but in terms of content too. Our new cookery title with healthy fast food restaurant Leon has been called the ‘coolest food book I have ever seen’ by Giles Coren.

    BD: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?

    LD: I have to like it. Then I answer the question ‘who cares’. I like books that have some passion and longevity behind them. Our current title, Inspiration by Terence Conran and Stafford Cliff contains a lifetime of passions and is set to be a real hit for us around the world.

    BD: What books are you most proud of having published?

    LD: Outdoors by Diarmuid Gavin and Terence Conran. This book brings two very different talents together and it has worked very well for us in the UK and around the world. Similarly, Cars by Stephen Bayley treats a familiar subject in an innovative and surprising way and is also beautiful to own. Both are the right mix of commercial and high design values.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    LD: I am currently working on 2 major design books for autumn 2009. We will also be launching our first book by Jasper Conran and our 3rd title by our bestselling Japanese cook, Harumi Kurihara. We will also be publishing a beautiful sequel to Outdoors by Diarmuid Gavin and Terence Conran.

    *****

    These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite Conran titles:


  • Canongate

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

    The Book Depository: What/who do you see as your primary market?

    Jamie Byng (Canongate): Last time you featured Canongate as your Publisher of the Week I wrote that we are best known for our fiction and that we "love open-minded individuals who like being emotionally and morally challenged by what they read. If that sounds overly serious I would stress how important we feel it is that books entertain and engage. I also believe that if a great book is published in a accessible and smart way it will appeal to a large and genuinely diverse range of people. When everything works, as it did with Life of Pi, you realise how big this market can be."

    I still think the above holds but the biggest change that has happened since then is that we are broadening the range of what we publish, especially with regard to our non-fiction list, not least with the arrival at Canongate of Nick Davies, our new Editorial Director for Non-Fiction.

    BD: What are the principal challenges/opportunities you see at the moment in the business of publishing books?

    JB: The new ways in which people are finding things to read is changing the market and forcing publishers to think hard about the way they currently sell books and where the future lies. Like anything radical this is both exciting and alarming. Exciting as the opportunities are seemingly limitless and alarming because the business models are having to change and publishing profitably is perhaps harder now than ever. This week sees the first of our ebooks entering this brave new world and it will be fascinating to see how significant the sale of digital versions of books grows to be over the coming years. I think it is going to be more significant than some people would like to believe, especially when publishers start fully embracing the possibilities of the digital revolution. For example, what we are planning to do with Nick Cave’s new novel (see below) is going to blow a lot of people away.

    BD: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?

    JB: It's a joint decision that is reached by a small group of people at Canongate but it is always borne out of a passion for the book in question and a belief that it is adding something to what Canongate is and to the broader cultural conversation that we are part of. If you don't truly care about a book, what right have you got to waste a person's precious time by publishing it? Life is just too short to not try and always champion genuinely original books that you love.

    BD: What books are you most proud of having published?

    JB: Jesus what a tricky one to answer briefly as there are dozens of books that I feel hugely proud of being involved in and it seems divisive to single out titles. But at the risk of offending other writers on our list whose books I also love, here are some of the highlights that spring to mind (and are in no particular order!) - Michel Faber's Under the Skin, James Meek's The People's Act of Love, Kate Grenville's The Secret River, Lewis Hyde's The Gift, Alice Thompson's Justine, Steven Hall's The Raw Shark Texts, the Myths series, Maria Hyland's Carry Me Down, Yann Martel's Life of Pi, Sverre Lyngstad's new translation of Knut Hamsun's Hunger, Niccolo Amanitti's I'm Not Scared, Martin Strong's The Great Rock Discography, Louise Welsh's The Cutting Room, our Bible series of Pocket Canons, Iceberg Slim's Pimp, Scarlett Thomas' The End of Mr Y, Dan Rhodes' Timoleon Vieta Come Home, John Fante's Ask the Dust, Robert Sabbag's Snowblind (especially the limited edition designed by Damien Hirst, a copy of which I gave to the Queen!), John Haskell's American Purgatorio, Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More than You and Jim Dodge's Fup. And a special shout has to be made for Alasdair Gray's Lanark as although I was only 12 years old when Canongate first published this extraordinary novel, I have been involved in publishing various editions over the past decade, including the most recent which has an excellent introduction by William Boyd. Lanark contains multitides and is one of the masterpieces of world literature.

    And just in the last year or so we have published some exceptional new authors on our list including President-Elect Barack Obama and his now hugely popular Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope, David “The Wire” Simon’s masterpiece Homicide, Rebecca Miller’s superb debut The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (our first ever Richard and Judy pick), the third volume of the magnificent Paris Review Interviews which Margaret Atwood has introduced and The Mighty Book of Boosh which is one of the wildest and most ambitious books we have ever been involved in. I don’t think the list has ever been as diverse or as strong and it’s thrilling for all of us who work at Canongate that in 2008 we have been lucky and have had some big breaks. Long may this continue!!

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    JB: Nick Cave has written a remarkable new novel, his first in almost twenty years which is how long ago it was that he wrote The Ass Saw the Angel. This new book, which is set in contemporary Brighton, is called The Death of Bunny Munro and is the dark, funny, utterly compelling account of a man on the road to ruin and literal damnation. The trouble is he decides to take his nine year old son with him. It’s a shocking book but one that is full of pathos as well as pain and it is extremely well-written. We started showing this to international publishers just before the Frankfurt Book Fair and already we have sold the rights to 24 publishers around the world. We will launch in September 09 and not just as a straight book. Watch this space!!

    I mentioned last time that we had just acquired Geoff Dyer’s first novel in twelve years, the memorably titled Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, and this book’s momentum is starting to build in just the way we hoped with brilliant quotes coming in for it from the likes of Josh Ferris, Alain de Botton, Michael Ondaatje, William Boyd and Nadeem Aslam. I love this book so much and think it is as funny and brilliantly observed as anything I have read in years as well as being so engaging and well-written.

    We also have outstanding new novels coming in 2009 from the two authors we publish who were both short-listed for the Man Booker in 2006 -- Kate Grenville and M.J.Hyland. It’s thrilling as a publisher when writers who you love deliver new books that stop you dead in your tracks and make you realize that they are getting better and better. This is what Kate and Maria have done with The Lieutenant (Feb 09) and This is How (July 09) respectively. Both novels have been burrowing their way deeper and deeper into my head since I read them several months ago and I think these books are going to cause a big splash next year and will be read for many years to come.

    And very recently we bought this very odd collection called Sum, Forty Tales from the Afterlives, that has been written by this neuroscientist David Eagleman. It’s unlike anything I have ever come across before and in each of the forty slices of afterlife he presents a different version of what he thinks we have in store for us. These range from the absurd to the tragic, from the thought-provoking to the surreal, from the comic to the sublime and unquestionably it is greater than the sum of its parts!!

    And as always there is a wild array of all sorts of other interesting things bubbling away and in the pipeline.

    *****

    These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite Canongate titles:


    Posted by Mark Mark

    Categories: publishers, Canongate

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