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  • New York University Press

    Mon, 23 Mar 2009 05:57

    Founded in 1916 by Elmer Ellsworth Brown, then Chancellor of the University, New York University Press, located on Washington Square in Manhattan's historic and intellectually vibrant Greenwich Village, was, in his words, created "to publish contributions to higher learning by eminent scholars."

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

    New York University Press: From the academy to the general reader, NYU Press publishes books of interest to all readers. Our core strengths stretch across the humanities and social sciences, focusing heavily on cultural studies, American history, sociology, religious studies, and law & society. Many of our books are underlined by themes of race and gender.

    We consider our primary market to be as broad as the publicity we receive for our books: coverage in venues varying from The New York Times Book Review and Salon.com to the most esteemed scholarly and library-driven publications. In addition to general readers, academics, and libraries, we also view classroom adoption as a substantial market for NYU Press books.

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

    New York University Press: This is a peculiar moment in publishing where the industry is trying to reconcile old methods with new approaches. At NYU Press, we are doing what we can to stay ahead of the curve by embracing new digital publishing techniques. Print-on-demand (POD) has allowed us to resurrect long out-of-print titles from our backlist and make them available once again to interested readers. We are also continuing to explore and implement publishing models for personal e-book readers, the digital library market, and other digital realms. We see the growth of online marketing as another opportunity to seize. Through a robust website and our recently-launched blog -- FromTheSquare.org -- we can clearly see that our authors and their ideas are now reaching a larger audience than ever before.

    The Book Depository: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?

    New York University Press: Books published by NYU Press must meet a high standard of scholarly excellence, which includes a rigorous peer-review process, in addition to falling in step with our strategic vision for our publishing program. We are constantly on the lookout for the best and brightest authors in their fields -- authors that have fresh and distinct ideas to contribute to the social discourse, both within and beyond the walls of academia.

    The Book Depository: What books are you most proud of having published?

    New York University Press: NYU Press has been a major voice for critical race theory and is very proud of the genre defining Critical Race Theory: An Introduction by Ricard Delgado and Jean Stefancic. We also were at the forefront of exploring the nexus of emerging technologies, as evidenced by our successful Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, written by the elite media scholar Henry Jenkins. We recently published a fascinating study of a godless society called Society without God that has sold well and also sparked some interesting online discussion about religious faith in America and around the world. Other recent books we are proud of include Tales for Little Rebels, a collection of leftist children's literature; Hooking Up, an ethnographic study of sex on college campuses; and Keywords for American Cultural Studies, an accessible A-to-Z survey of prevailing academic buzzwords and a flexible tool for carving out new areas of inquiry. Lastly, one key bestselling backlist title that must be mentioned is Godel's Proof, a readable and accessible explanation to both scholars and non-specialists of the main ideas and broad implications of Godel's discovery.

    The Book Depository: What books are you working on right now?

    New York University Press: Here's a preview of some of our lead books for fall 2009:

    The Left at War: Cultural Studies in the Age of Terror

    The Guantanomo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law

    Snitching: How Informants Are Destroying the American Criminal Justice System

    Parenting Out of Control

    Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible

  • Hodder and Stoughton

    Tue, 10 Mar 2009 04:41

    Hodder and Stoughton was founded in 1868, and built on publishing the biggest quality commercial books of each era, and promoting them adventurously. Publishing in the early years included Winston Churchill, GK Chesterton and The Bible, then the 1920s brought an explosion of commercial fiction at keen prices -- Hodder's "Yellow jackets" series were the pre-cursors to the first paperbacks, and included bestsellers from John Buchan, Sapper and Edgar Wallace.

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

    Hodder: General readers who want the best books and authors from any category -- from crime and thriller fans to readers of prize-winning books, to people who love ideas books or celebrity autobiographies.

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

    Hodder: The principle challenges and opportunities today are probably not very different from 50 or 100 years ago -- to find tens of thousands of new readers for an author a book, and get them to tell their friends/contacts about that book. Of course there are lots of day to day challenges like how to adapt for a digital marketplace, e-books, global copyright and the costs of promoting a book effectively, but there have always been new challenges like these, and good writers and great stories tend to win through. The opportunities for huge success are greater than ever before though -- today's media and the internet can spread global word-of-mouth like never before, and extraordinary books can take off like never before.

    The Book Depository: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?

    Hodder: A belief from our team that that book, or writer, will grow to become a huge success -- it might be in sales terms, or possibly in terms of critical and prize acclaim, and it might not be with this book it might be many books down the line.

    The Book Depository: What books are you most proud of having published?

    Hodder: There are dozens of books I'm really proud to have published, and I'm proud to publish authors rather than just individual titles. I've adored John le Carre's writing from childhood and his recent book A Most Wanted Man is particularly finely crafted while delivering a great read and strong political punch. I guess the ones that also stand out tend to be word-of-mouth phenomenons -- David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain both extraordinary in their linguistic inventiveness, yet great stories too.

    The Book Depository: What books are you working on right now?

    Hodder: Always next season's -- next year's -- books! Jodi Picoult's emotionally powerful new novel Handle With Care, David Benioff's brilliantly moving and witty story of searching for eggs during the siege of Leningrad, and early plans for Simon Pegg's Memoir that we will publish this coming autumn. And a fair few reprints for John le Carre and Michael Parkinson too.

  • Black Spring Press

    Mon, 02 Mar 2009 09:17

    Since 1985, Black Spring Press has produced work by Nick Cave, Anais Nin, Charles Baudelaire, Kyril Bonfiglioli, Carolyn Cassady and Leonard Cohen, among many others. Black Spring specialises in the contemporary, as well as breathing new life into neglected classics.

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

    Black Spring Press: Readers who want to leave the beaten track. We hope our books are quirky, intelligent and surprising.

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

    Black Spring Press: It's easy to think that challenges loom larger than opportunities at the moment: that's the current wisdom in and out of the book trade. But we as readers have to hope that books are among the last things people give up. Hard to think what other experience gives you more for your tenner. Maybe the fatuous and overpriced Wii will be the main victim of recession: we can always hope, and who would mourn its passing? OK, lots of people...

    The Book Depository: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?

    Black Spring Press: Impossible to generalise. It will always have something to do with a sense that there is a readership for it, but any book we do has to be something we really love and is worth the effort. Maybe a summary of the test is that we believe the book has at least a fighting chance of enduring, being remembered.

    The Book Depository: What books are you most proud of having published?

    Black Spring Press: The Julian Maclaren-Ross books. He really could have gone by the wayside, and to read him is know how unjust that would have been. Also Nick Cave's And the Ass Saw the Angel, a really powerful and disturbing book.

    The Book Depository: What books are you working on right now?

    Black Spring Press: Just off to the printer we have a fourth novel, by Alan Brownjohn, Windows on the Moon, out in March. It brilliantly evokes a post-war world that is outwardly bleak but full of humanity and humour. There is also a trilogy for later in the year, but that's under wraps for the moment...

  • Seven Stories Press

    Mon, 23 Feb 2009 09:01

    Seven Stories Press publishes books by top authors, fiction and non-fiction (social justice, human rights and radical activism), alternative health, women's health, and popular culture.

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

    Seven Stories Press: Readers, and this includes writers. Reading is an activity that by its very nature tends towards bold ideas, strong voices, new ways of interpreting the world around us. So I see our primary market as the end user, the reader, rather than the various book-industry intermediaries. I have an abiding belief that readers want the most interesting, the most provocative, the most challenging material, and so at Seven Stories we're in the business of publishing authentic voices, rather than so-called experts, and to tell stories even when the stories we have to tell might be disturbing. We think that's our responsibility, that it's what readers want. We'd like to think the power of the message itself is a selling point. And sometimes it is.

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

    Seven Stories Press: The principle challenge, or obstacle, is the industry-wide clinically depressed state at the retail level. We exist at the mercy of the retailers. And retailers, like publishers, need to be able to get up each day feeling curious, optimistic. At present the e-retailers have basically, in the U.S. at least, broken the hearts of the brick-and-mortar retailers, and have done so without picking up the slack. That is, Amazon is an absolutely wonderful bookseller when it is 20% of the marketplace, or even 25%. But when it gets to be twice that the effect is ruinous. I'm all for a successful Amazon, but only alongside a successful independent and chain-store brick and mortar retail sector. I am a firm believer in bookstores where you can physically walk in and browse. The success of the Mac stores, which was not predicted, shows just how enthusiastic people can be for the right kind of store environment. When we have a healthy retail environment, we'll have a healthy publishing environment.

    The Book Depository: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?

    Seven Stories Press: In the current financial crisis, we're being more selective than ever. First, someone among us who sits at the table during our weekly editorial meeting has to be head-over-heels in love. Then the naysayers who will try to assault the walls of the advocate's castle, often with me leading the charge, have to be fended off. Finally, the books that are going to work best for us are going to be the ones that really fit our program: eloquent political writing with an activist bent on the nonfiction side, and daring, ambitious, not trendy fiction on the literary side.

    The Book Depository: What books are you most proud of having published?

    Seven Stories Press: The ones I'm proudest of are where we got the book just exactly right, and people noticed. Kurt Vonnegut's A Man without a Country, of course. Chomsky's 9-11. Alan Dugan's Poems Seven. All of Howard Zinn's books. All of Octavia Butler's books. The Censored series. Our critical edition of Nelson Algren's The Man with the Golden Arm. Derrick Jensen's books. Lee Stringer's books. Peter Plate's books. There's no end to the list. But certainly the positive reinforcement that comes from the ones that have been bestsellers is hard to ignore.

    The Book Depository: What books are you working on right now?

    Seven Stories Press: We've just finished work on an important financial title by our bestselling author John R. Talbott (Obamanomics) that we're rushing into print for a May publication date. It's called The 86 Biggest Lies on Wall Street. And it's delicious. Other than that, I'm deeply immersed in the script of a one-evening performance that will take place on Monday April 6, in Chicago at the storied Steppenwolf Theater to celebrate the centennial of Nelson Algren's birth. All the words are Nelson Algren's, but Barry Gifford and I have taken on the task of scripting the evening into a performance that has drama and pathos -- and humor. The performers who will appear include Matt Dillon and Estelle Parsons, as well as the writers Russell Banks, Don DeLillo and Barry Gifford. We're calling it Nelson Algren Live: The 100th Birthday Celebration. It will be filmed by the director Hugo Perez, and copies of the dvd will be distributed free to schools and libraries across the country by the National Book Foundation. I try not to take on non-book related projects, but this is one I could not resist. And anyway, it will remind people that one of America's most exciting writers is still Nelson Algren, who died in 1981, but is still very much alive in our hearts and minds.

  • Icon Books

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

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

    Najma Finlay: Aside from the fact that we don't publish any fiction, we're pretty open-minded as a publisher and quite deliberately have few no-go areas. But our specialties lie in quality, intelligent but nonetheless popular non-fiction, in science, history, politics, philosophy, psychology and sport. It's generally true that ideas, in some form or another, are at the heart of everything Icon publishes -- and so our books are aimed at anyone and everyone for whom thinking means a bit more than choosing what to wear in the morning.

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

    Najma Finlay: Few businesses are likely to escape the ravages of the likely recession that we're heading into, and I'm sure book publishing will be no exception. But as people, out of economic necessity if nothing else, try to rediscover ways of entertaining themselves that are cheap, fulfilling and environmentally friendly, there are few activities that fit that bill as well as reading books, so perhaps there are some reasons to be optimistic.

    The Book Depository: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?

    Najma Finlay: Choosing to publish one title or author over another is probably about 20% science and 80% educated guesswork. We publish what we think people will like to read, what we'd like to read, and what we think we can sell (three criteria that don't always add up to the same answer). As a smallish publisher, our authors are not, on the whole, hugely well-known. So each book of ours needs a spark, a hook, some flair about it that we think can give it a fighting chance.

    The Book Depository: What books are you most proud of having published?

    Najma Finlay: I'm most proud of Jessica Williams' 50 Facts that Should Change the World. Originally published in 2004, it quickly became a hit, and sold very well throughout the world. And Jessica was an entirely unknown author (although her writing was spot-on and one of the most enjoyable authors I've ever had the pleasure of dealing with). It's since been translated into numerous foreign languages and has spawned a panoply of imitators.

    The Book Depository: What books are you working on right now?

    Najma Finlay: Manjit Kumar's magisterial Quantum is just about to be published – the history of the birth of quantum theory and, for anyone gripped by the turning-on drama of the Large Hadron Collider, is the essential background read telling the story of how this mind-bogglingly weird but utterly fundamental science all started.

    For next spring, John Gribbin's first ever non-science book will be a popular, fans' eye-view of Buddy Holly – a new biography published 50 years after this bespectacled giant of pop music was killed.

    We have an appropriate new title for our famous Introducing series, Capitalism -- ideal to help understand why Western governments nationalizing banks is quite such a radical step 00 and I'm particularly looking forward to William Little's The Psychic Tourist: A Voyage into the Curious World of Predicting the Future. Perhaps we'll learn what the bestselling book of Christmas 2009 will be...

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