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  • The Toby Press

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

    Soumchi

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

    Isha Smole-Esses: Bestseller readers who might like to try something different. The Toby Press has a current list of original fiction unpublished elsewhere from both unpublished and seasoned authors. About half the list is work translated into English. The translations are books that have been bestsellers in the original language, so they are tried and tested, sure-fire good reads. The policy of the press is to publish literary fiction in high quality bindings. There is an emphasis on quality finishing and durable and attractive covers.

    The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks

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

    I S-E: The Electronic age – it is a challenge to reach the generation who lives in and off their laptops but still reads.

    The King of Colored Town

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

    I S-E: I have a very short answer for this question, I have to love it.

    Mandrakes from the Holy Land

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

    I S-E: Donald Harington's Stay More novels. They are enjoying a real renaissance. The Cherry Pit is the latest in a remarkable series of work which has been justly compared to that of Faulkner and Garcia Marquez. Donald Harington is a brilliant creator of fictional worlds rooted in his native Arkansas and his language is rich in a uniquely American, southern idiom. Winner of the Robert Penn Warren Award, the Heasley Prize and the first Oxford American Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Women on the Edge

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    I S-E: Grub by Elise Blackwell. Eddie, on the brink of failure after his critically acclaimed first book, wants only to publish another novel and hang on to his beautiful wife, Amanda, who has her own literary ambitions and a bit of a roving eye. Among their circle are writers of every stripe—from the Machiavellian Jackson to the ‘experimental writer’ Henry who lives in squalor while seeking the perfect sentence. Amid an assortment of scheming agents, editors, and hangers-on, each writer must negotiate the often competing demands of success and integrity, all while grappling with inner demons and the stabs of professional and personal jealousy. The Devil-Wears-Prada meets Publishing!

    Wrestling with Angels - New and Collected Stories by John J. Clayton. Since publishing his first collection in the eighties, John J. Clayton has continued to write “powerful stories of urban life in America, of life often enough among Jews who carry their exile and their wilderness within them. The prose is powerful, an impressive mixture of sinuous sentences— which one reads as if one overhears thoughts. All of these characters are bruised. They are often enough triumphant, though, even if locked into mortal flesh, because they have an astonishing belief in the spirit.” (Fredrick Busch)

    We are pleased to be publishing the definitive collection of Clayton’s remarkable stories. Included are two previously published collections, Bodies of the Rich, and Radiance: Ten Stories, a selection of previously uncollected stories, and a large collection of new stories, Wrestling with Angels, together with an introduction to his work by the author.

    In the Meantime, by Robin Lippincott, follows the lives of three characters—Kathryn, Luke and Starling—who meet in 1931 at the age of five in their small, Midwestern hometown, become friends, and share dreams of a better life. After World War II, they follow their dreams to New York City, where their varying experiences prove that not even Manhattan is exempt from the racism and prejudice so prevalent in 1950s America. Through the years of their ever-entwined adult lives some dreams are realized while others grow dim, but one constant remains: their bond of friendship. Their triad is mirrored by a view of three friends in Hiroshima on the day the atomic bomb was dropped, and by a trio of Jews hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. At the book's end, some seventy years after it began, only one of the nine remains to tell the story of their lives, and of what happened…in the meantime.

    *****

    These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite Toby Press titles:


  • Souvenir Press

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

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

    Ernest Hecht (Souvenir Press): Anyone wanting to read for interest or pleasure, preferably both (we don’t do children’s books).

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

    EH: In the present state of the market, chain shops and conglomerates having a bias towards celebrity authors as well as expecting considerable marketing contribution, or even worse, putting judgements on past trading patterns that are no longer relevant, our main challenge is to try and get the information on our books to the people for whom they are intended without unbiased intervention. One result in our case is that we no longer publish much fiction, and are now basically non-fiction publishers.

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

    EH: Is it a good book to meet the criteria above. It helps if I like the author personally, since publishing essentially is a partnership.

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

    EH: It depends on the criteria. If it is books that everyone else had turned down (generally over twenty publishers), and made them into bestsellers, notwithstanding, for example Erich Von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods, James Finn Garner’s Politically Correct Bedtime Stories and Jackow Trachtenberg’s The Trachtenberg Speed System of Basic Mathematics.

    If it is a great writer, then Pablo Neruda, Knut Hamsun and Neil Gunn, all of whom had gone out of fashion and we have re-issued and kept in print for forty years.

    If its innovation, then it is bringing Rock and Roll publishing to the UK with forty two titles including three with The Beatles.

    If it is being ahead of their time, and their consequences, then our Human Horizon for the disabled and those who care for them, which changed practises in hospitals and the NHS, Unfit for Human Consumption (BSE), Electric Shock Book (pylon cancer). And then the books of Elaine Morgan over 25 years, propounding the Aquatic Ape theory of evolution which has been accepted by the scientific establishment. Her last book was The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis.

    If it is entertainment, then the novels of Arthur Hailey, like Hotel or The Moneychangers, and the Modesty Blaise adventures by Peter O’Donnell and Madelaine Brent – some 35 titles over the years by these authors alone.

    And so onto ... End of Philosophy by Martin Heidegger which we also publish!!!

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    RH: Lots, but two that might attract controversy and discussion, Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You and Medication Can’t Give You by Richard O’Connor, which focuses on how to help by treating it as a ‘way of life’. Your Money and Your Brain by Jason Zweig – where colour brain scans are included showing that when you think of money the scans show up the same as the brain patterns of cocaine addicts!

    We have very big titles and surprising ones at that for Spring 2008 – the day a publisher’s list becomes predictable and unexciting, the shutters can’t be far away.

    *****

    These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite Souvenir Press titles:


  • The Friday Project

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

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

    Scott Pack (The Friday Project): We are often described as a web-to-print publisher which is technically correct but doesn’t really say anything about the audience for our books. The reality is that we have such a diverse list it is impossible to identify a primary market at all. People who read How to Bring up Your Parents by Emma Kennedy may be the same people who own a copy of Rachel North’s Out of the Tunnel, but then again, they might not. If I had to fudge an answer I would say people who love books. I certainly don’t think the internet connection matters all that much to most readers.

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

    SP: Finding readers is probably both the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity. Getting the balance of PR and marketing right is part of that. We have had a book featured on Richard & Judy that hardly any bookshops were stocking so it didn’t really work, and then we have had others that lots of high street and internet retailers promoted but failed to get any PR. They didn’t work either. The good news is that we seem to get it right more often than not. Certainly the media appear to like our books.

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

    SP: Ultimately it all comes down to a love of the book. Sure, we have to make a commercial judgement at times but our very best sellers and our very best books are all titles that we love and are passionate about. That enthusiasm can go a long way, as long as it is well placed of course.

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

    SP: As a publisher I think we are most proud of Blood, Sweat & Tea by Tom Reynolds and In Stitches by Dr Nick Edwards. These are both compelling accounts of life in very different areas of the health service (ambulance driver and A&E doctor respectively) and have quickly become bestsellers. They represent what The Friday Project is all about – finding the very best writing on the internet and turning it into compelling books. Personally I am chuffed to have re-published Warwick Collins’ novel Gents which I consider to be a bit of a lost classic.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    BD: We have dozens of books in various stages of development. We have just signed off the cover for Caroline Smailes’ new novel Black Boxes. Her debut, In Search of Adam, was a real word-of-mouth success in hardback so we have high hopes for that in paperback and this follow-up is a remarkable piece of work. Pretty soon we will receive finished copies of our limited edition hardback of Attention. Deficit. Disorder. by Brad Listi. We are only printing 1,000 copies and they are bound in a rubber cover! Much of my time recently has been spent trawling through the archives of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin (the creators of Bagpuss, Clangers and Noggin the Nog) as we are publishing a collection of their printed work, called The Treasury of Lost Delights, for Christmas next year. It is a delight indeed.

    *****

    These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite The Friday Project titles:


  • Allison & Busby

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

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

    Susie Dunlop (Publishing Director, Allison & Busby): It’s quite difficult to say, as (except for children’s books) we publish all kinds of genres. We would certainly attract lovers of crime books as we have such a huge array of crime fiction on our list - everything from classic crime novels by veterans like Robert Barnard, historical mysteries and cosy crime, to police procedurals, humorous crime novels like Mike Ripley’s Angel series or The Rabbit Factory by Marshall Karp, and dark psychological thrillers like Grave Doubts by Elizabeth Corley. We also cover true-crime books (the hugely topical Guns and Gangs by Graeme McLagan; Couples Who Kill by Carol Anne Davies and Cult Killers by Frank Moorhouse) which are extremely popular. But aside from our crime and mystery titles, there’s a huge selection of books to please any discerning reader - from memoirs, contemporary fiction, historical fiction and sagas, to books on popular culture like The Encyclopaedia of Saturday Night Telly or humorous books like I Hate Christmas. Recently we published a book on allotments (View from A Shed) and an astrology book (Star Babies), and we have just bought the science fiction series about a Weather Warden - so as you can see our market is very broad! We also appeal to many collectors with our signed hardback editions and also have a strong library market.

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

    SD: The biggest challenge has to be competing against the big publishers and their huge marketing budgets. It’s difficult when you need to pay to get books displayed front of store. Bookshops and now the supermarkets are requiring much higher discounts from publishers in order stock the books, which can make things difficult for us. Having said that, there is still great support for small lists and we rely on the genuine enthusiasm and dedication from bookshop buyers who love our books. Recently Waterstone’s promoted all of Edward Marston’s Railway Detective series for us and did fantastically well with it. We don’t have big budgets for advertising and rely on publicity to get word of mouth going. This too can be hard to achieve for smaller publishers when the media inevitably favours big-name bestselling authors and celebrities. However if you can find a juicy media angle it can do wonders for sales. Such was the case for our book No Suspicious Circumstances by the Mulgray Twins. A debut novel by two unknown Edinburgh authors, this book could have gone unnoticed, but we used the unique fact the authors were identical twin sisters. The media took notice and after widespread exposure and lovely reviews, it meant book buyers took notice too and No Suspicious Circumstances soon became Waterstone’s Scottish Book of the Month.

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

    SD: We will take into consideration the writer’s track record in sales and his or her promotability as an author, but ultimately it boils down to whether or not we think it is a compelling read.

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

    SD: Oh, there are many! But if I have to choose just a few I’d most definitely have to pick Girls of Tender Age by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith. It’s a unique memoir, combining a touching family portrait and true-crime story, set in 1950s small-town America. I was so moved by it. It was one of those books that I felt I simply had to publish, even if we only sold one copy. Happily this hasn’t been the case - the press gave it nothing but rave reviews and everyone I know who has read it has loved it so I’m hoping when the paperback comes out in February it will reach even more readers. I’m also very proud of Swing by Rupert Holmes – an original mystery with a musical twist. Holmes is a remarkable talent, a man who’s already had a stellar career in the music and theatre industries, and now is proving to be a brilliant novelist too. He is considered something of a national treasure in the US, and we’re delighted to be the publishers introducing him to UK readers. I’d also have to mention Margaret Irwin, one of the most revered historical fiction writers - it’s a privilege to have her on our list. We felt that people who hadn’t read her in the past were missing out, so we are now in the process of reissuing her captivating trilogy about Queen Elizabeth I. It includes Young Bess (out now), Elizabeth, Captive Princess (due out in November) and Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain (out in January) and our designer has produced some beautiful covers for the new editions.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    SD: We have just relaunched the classic thriller JIG by Campbell Armstrong. It’s 20 years since it was first published in the UK, and it remains to this day such an iconic book, so we jumped at the opportunity to bring it to a new generation of readers, especially as the subject of terrorism is still so relevant. Now, we’re getting ready for the release of Boomsday by Christopher Buckley (author of Thank You for Smoking which hit cinemas last year to huge acclaim). His new book is an absolutely brilliant comedy-satire about generational warfare, political shenanigans and the power of PR ‘spin’. The plot revolves around a 29-year-old blogger who proposes that the government should provide incentives for 70-year-olds to voluntarily commit suicide in order to tackle the Social Security debt…and people start to take the issue seriously. It’s outrageously funny and has already reached the Top 10 on the New York Times Bestsellers List so we are very excited about this release. We are also working on a brand new Roman trilogy Republic by Jack Ludlow. He’s an excellent storyteller, and this is one of the few Roman series to be set in the fascinating era of the Republic. The first book in the trilogy Pillars of Rome will be out in paperback in March next year. Since this trilogy spans the years directly leading up to Ceasar’s reign, it could almost act as a prelude to Conn Iggulden’s popular Emperor series, so it’ll be a welcome release for all those fans craving more Roman action and intrigue.

    *****

    These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite Allison & Busby titles:


  • Class Publishing

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

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

    Rebecca Hirst (Class Publishing): Members of the general public who want trustworthy, no-nonsense information to help them understand and manage their own medical condition or that of a loved one. Basically, we provide the answers to questions that you might ask a sympathetic and knowledgeable GP, if he or she had the time!

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

    RH: The main challenges for independent publishers such as Class are to firstly get stock into the right places in a fiercely competitive environment and secondly to achieve visibility and recognition for these niche titles. In our line of publishing we are finding that opportunities are increasingly arising in the electronic sphere of publishing, for example, providing high quality information for use on websites.

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

    RH: We are always looking to address those medical conditions that have not been covered in sufficient depth or with enough practical advice for people’s needs. One recent new subject for us was irritable bowel syndrome: plenty of books exist on the subject, but most seemed to tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat. Our book is different, in that it explores the whole syndrome as a bona fide medical problem and gives the well-informed medical advice you would expect from a doctor, rather than the frustrating non-advice that people sometimes sadly receive. Our authors pick themselves by being experts in their fields and agreeable to giving up their spare time to write these books!

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

    BD: We are very proud of our diabetes range of books, which has now been running for 20 years. We have had so much heartfelt feedback about how much these books have helped people that it does make the whole venture seem extremely worthwhile. Back in the eighties, Insulin dependent diabetes (Type 1) was originally our main focus; now Type 2 diabetes is the primary centre of attention, hence the split of our bestselling book into two distinct editions, Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes: Answers at your fingertips.

    Another book I’m particularly proud of being involved with is British Medical Association award winner COPD: Answers at your fingertips. This book deals with the fifth biggest killer in the UK, and helps people manage chronic lung disease, which without good management can make people’s lives unbearably difficult. Unfortunately, despite its prevalence, it doesn’t get as much coverage as many other conditions, probably due to its connection with smoking.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    BD: We are working on a revamped edition of a book entitled Dump Your Toxic Waist! This title focuses on the harm that excess abdominal fat can cause to your overall health, and more importantly, how you can lose that weight and fend off the spectre of heart disease and diabetes with an eminently achievable 28-day plan. The key to this book is that it is rigorously based on the available medical evidence. There is no ‘eat only cabbage for a week and lose five stone’-style advice, instead the book provides information and guidance that can help you acquire the requisite self-belief to change your habits and lose weight, get in shape and stay healthy in a sustainable way.

    Other books in the pipeline include a fingertips guide to Breast Cancer and a book exploring the choices available to someone considering a post-surgical breast reconstruction.

    *****

    These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite Class Publishing titles:


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