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Thu, 14 May 2009 03:35
Thames and Hudson was founded in 1949 by Walter and Eva Neurath. Their passion and mission for Thames and Hudson was that its books should reveal the world of art to the general public and to make accessible to a broad, non-specialist reading public, at prices it could afford, the research and the findings of top scholars and academics.
The Book Depository: What / who do you see as your primary market?
Thames & Hudson: Thames & Hudson was founded sixty years ago with the central objective of creating a programme of illustrated, non-fiction books that would educate, inform and entertain as a 'museum without walls.' It has always traditionally been regarded as pre-eminently a publisher of the arts, so our key market is really all those who enjoy the visual arts and the wide range of related disciplines in which we publish -- design, architecture, fashion, photography, travel etc.
These may be general readers, but they may also well be professionals in these various fields -- many of our titles are conceived and created with the professional market clearly in mind. Students are also a key market for us -- from the early years of Thames & Hudson and the creation of the World of Art series over thirty years ago, we have always endeavoured to publish a range of titles that students will value, and many of our books are included on recommended course reading lists.
In this, our 60th year, we are celebrating the diversity of our unique programme with a range of new titles, eye-catching reissues of 20 classic titles, and a host of special offers. There will also be a number of high-profile events all over the UK featuring a raft of distinguished authors from the T&H stable.
The Book Depository: What are the principal challenges / opportunities you see at the moment in the business of publishing books?
Thames & Hudson: Publishing has of course been affected by the current global economic downturn, but here at Thames & Hudson, we are confident that books -- especially beautifully produced ones like ours -- can and do remain resilient. During these 'credit-crunch' times, traditional channels of entertainment such as reading and museum and gallery-going have been enjoying a resurgence in popularity, and books of course represent an enduring source of diversion and pleasure.
Other challenges and opportunities both stem really from the same source -- the massive surge in new technologies, linked to the inexorable rise of the internet as a central part of our daily lives.It's a challenge inasmuch as our traditional readers have never been so distracted by alternative media, and perhaps never been so tempted to set their books aside. It's an opportunity because we, as publishers, have much to bring to the table. We spend much of our time here analysing and tracking the multitude of developments emerging from the new media, and we feel confident in our ability to keep up with the curve. Having said this, we also feel that books in their traditional form will continue to engage the market, and in the field of visual books, where we pride ourselves in our high standards of design and production, we feel that our core customers will remain loyal. There are, of course, limits as to how much one can replicate the look and the feel of a great art book on the web or an e-book reader...
The Book Depository: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?
Thames & Hudson: It involves a multitude of factors: the expertise of the editor, who will know the chosen field intimately; the view of the marketplace, which we try to source and to study at every opportunity; and an awareness, again prompted by our knowledge of, and work with, the trade, of the most significant emerging areas of publishing. But perhaps as much as any other factor, we derive much simply from our vast experience of bringing books to the market over a period of 60 years.
The Book Depository: What books are you most proud of having published?
Thames & Hudson: Thames & Hudson has a wide-ranging backlist covering many different disciplines and areas of interest, so it's difficult to be specific, but here are a few suggestions!
T&H has always greatly valued its close relationship with some of the key subjects of its publishing, be they artists, sculptors, photographers, designers or architects. David Hockney, for example, has been very close to the company for many years, and his book Secret Knowledge, published in 2001, was a fascinating and ground-breaking account of the working methods of the Old Masters. To see one of Britain's greatest painters engage with art history in this way really was thrilling.
The World of Art series, which to generations of readers has offered an essential course in art appreciation, embodies many of the values that T&H cherishes as a publisher, and its success over such a long period is I think a testament to the early vision of our founders.
In more recent years we have both led the way and embraced whole new fields of publishing. We have had great success in the area of street art, for example, and indeed published the first survey on the then little-known discipline of graffiti art back in 1984. This seminal book, Subway Art, has just been reissued in a large-size format to celebrate its 25th anniversary, and remains the 'bible' for anyone interested in street art.
The Book Depository: What books are you working on right now?
Thames & Hudson: We are focusing on our 60th anniversary for the whole of this year, and are very excited about our Autumn publishing programme, which forms a part of those celebrations.
We have a new edition of our bestseller Magnum Magum, which was the volume created with the Magnum photographic agency to celebrate their first sixty years. It features 400 works from across the spectrum of Magnum photographers, and sold out in its first incarnation as a £95 hardback -- this new version (RRP of just £19.95) will make this wonderful book accessible to all.
We are all very excited about Vincent Van Gogh: The Complete Letters, which will be an historic and ground-breaking publication. It is the most complete edition of Van Gogh's letters ever published, is illustrated extensively throughout, and draws on fifteen years of scholarship and dedicated research. This will be a major publishing event for the company in October this year.
In addition, we have the first major monograph on Turner prize-winning contemporary artist GRAYSON PERRY; a magnificent illustrated survey, The Great Cities in History, edited by John Julius Norwich, and a really wonderful illustrated children's book, Timmy the Tug, based on a previously unpublished poem by Ted Hughes. These are just some of many new titles covering a wide range of disciplines.
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