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  • Canongate

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

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

    Jamie Byng (Canongate): Fiction stills forms the mainstay of our list and 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.

    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.

    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 is 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.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    JB: As always I and all my colleagues are working on dozens of different books at any one time which can someone lead to a somewhat schizophrenic mindset. So on the one hand this new edition of James Hogg's The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner is where part of my head is at (for which Ian Rankin just delivered a wonderful new introduction and Philip Pullman a great blurb) and another part of my head is immersed in Geoff Dyer's new novel, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, a brilliant book that we acquired last week and, although we won't publish until March 09, we have already begun selling rights in this novel (as the time of writing the Spanish rights had just sold and we have two Italian offers on the table) and the editing of the novel is also underway. And simultaneously plenty of all of our time and energy is going into building up momentum and awareness of the second novel by Helen Walsh, an extremely powerful piece of fiction called Once upon a Time in England that we are publishing in March 2008. A publisher's work is never done!!

    *****

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


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    Categories: publishers, Canongate

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  • Thames & Hudson

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

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

    Jonathan Earl: We certainly try to engage a number of core markets, according to our various fields of interest.

    Traditionally, as you know, Thames & Hudson has been regarded as pre-eminently a publisher of the arts. So our market here would be all those who enjoy the visual arts and the wide range of related disciplines in which we publish - design, architecture, fashion, photography, travel, and so forth.

    These may be general readers who enjoy our books purely from the perspective of their leisure interests. But they may also be professionals in the fields that I have described. Many of our titles are conceived and created with the professional market clearly in mind.

    They may also, of course, be students. 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.

    The way we see our readers derives directly from the mission of the founders of Thames & Hudson, Walter and Eva Neurath. They felt that T&H's duty was to reveal the world of art to the general public: to create, in their phrase, a ‘museum without walls’, and to make accessible to a broad reading public, at prices it could afford, the work of leading scholars.

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

    JE: Someone must have said this before, but to me, the challenges and opportunities both stem 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. As you know yourselves, there are 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...

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

    JE: This decision comes about as the result of 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 what are the most significant emerging areas of publishing. But perhaps as much as any other factor, we derive much simply from our experience of bringing books to the market over a period of nearly sixty years. To a relative newcomer to T&H like myself, the kind of publishing knowledge "embedded" in this company - in all its functions - is indeed impressive.

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

    JE: It's difficult to be specific with such a wide backlist, but here are a few suggestions from my own memory of Thames & Hudson, both as a past customer and a present employee.

    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. An artist like David Hockney, for example, has been very close to the company for many years.

    I remember being struck when Thames & Hudson published, in 2001, his Secret Knowledge, a fascinating account of the working methods of the Old Masters. To see one of Britain's greatest painters engage with art history in this way seemed to me a superb publishing achievement.

    I've already mentioned the World of Art series, which to generations of readers has offered an essential course in art appreciation. The series has embodied 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 moved with the times and have embraced whole new fields of publishing. In an area like street art, for example, we have had great success with titles like Stencil Graffiti and Graffiti World, while in the burgeoning field of travel publishing, our Hip Hotels series has, I believe, set the benchmark.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    JE: We are preparing for what should be a really exciting autumn. To talk about "lead" titles would not do justice to the whole list, but here are a few particularly good prospects.

    We're certainly expecting great things of Julian Bell's Mirror of the World, a new history of art that we feel will become a touchstone for a new generation of readers.

    In the field of photography we are publishing Magnum Magnum, a volume created with the Magnum agency to celebrate their first sixty years. This will be a magnificent work, featuring 400 works from across the spectrum of Magnum photographers. An oversized, 568-page volume at ?5, we feel confident that this will be regarded as one of the great photography books of our time.

    Elsewhere, The Age of Empires, edited by Robert Aldrich; Peter Conrad's Creation, the late Richard Avedon's The Kennedys, featuring photographs of the family seen for the very first time; The Great Naturalists, edited by Robert Huxley, Street Sketchbook from Tristan Manco, our best-selling graffiti author; Jonathan Fenby's The Seventy Wonders of China and a superb photographic collection from Reuters, Sport in the 21st Century.

    And in case you wondered whether the big archaeological exhibition later this year had passed us by, we're pleased to be publishing King Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Tomb, the official luxury gift edition of the 02 show.

    So never a dull moment this autumn.

    *****

    These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite Thames & Hudson titles:


  • Short Books

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

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

    Aurea Carpenter (Short Books): It depends on the book. Short Books has an eclectic list – and the reader of, say, Amo, Amas, Amat, our modern Latin primer, is not going to be the same as that for Madcap, the story of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd’s lost genius, or even Walking Ollie, Stephen Foster’s very funny account of life with his nutty rescue dog, Ollie. Still, if we have to put a name to it, our market is probably best described as educated Middle England – people who want good, lively reads, often with a learning-by-the-back-door element.

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

    AC: We are living in a very exciting, rich time, ideas- and communication-wise. And this offers both great opportunities and perhaps our greatest challenge: on the one hand, there is huge talent out there waiting to be tapped into, new writers, new ways of telling tales... On the other, the challenge for all publishers is just to keep the book relevant. And yet more and more books are published every year!

    For a small publisher like us, the difficulty is in steering a course between the big TV tie-in/celeb biographies and the niche markets on the fringes. And yet in some ways, we independents are better placed to take risks: we can go for things on a hunch, without recourse to layer upon layer of departmental decision-making. In the current climate, you could easily talk yourself out of anything if you were too careful. We are in the relatively luxurious position of being able to back an outsider, just because we decide we believe in it.

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

    AC: A gut feeling about a book. It may come down to seemingly small things: a tone of voice, an originality of thought, just the fact that it makes us laugh... But of course it is not a totally spur of the moment thing. Choosing new books is very much a joint effort here, where everybody in the company tends to get involved with pretty much everything in the publishing process. We cannot afford to take on books that we are going to get bored with, or think better of a few months down the line... We’ve got to love them from start to finish.

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

    AC: I can’t speak for my colleagues, who will have their own favourites. But I am particularly proud of Amo, Amas, Amat, which was our idea, and which, despite being about an apparently dead language that few people learn any more, and despite being turned down for every promotion going, managed to break through last Christmas and sell 90K copies. We feel ever privileged and lucky to be the publisher of Simon Barnes (How to be a bad birdwatcher, The Meaning of Sport, How to be Wild), whose books not only sell well but are good for humanity and the world in general. And in similar vein, Change the World for a Fiver, a charity book which we took on in 2004, has been one of those projects that make you happy to be in publishing: it has sold half a million copies worldwide, and turned the charity behind the book, We Are What We Do, into a global movement.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    AC: I’m busy working on an exciting new project with Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, author of the Good Granny Guide. And otherwise we’re putting the finishing touches to new books for the spring: a hilarious new book by Stephen Foster (bestselling author of Walking Ollie); and a gripping account of the race to be the first woman to swim across the Channel in 1926, The Great Swim; plus, just gone to press, The Mother’s Book, the one gift every girl will want to give to their mothers.

    Our other big excitement is our new fiction list – three totally diverse, but wonderful, reads coming out from February 08: Ice Land, an epic tale of forbidden love, by Betsy Tobin; Benny & Shrimp, a sort of fictional Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus ... touching and full of insight, by Swedish author, Katarina Mazetti; and The Days of Judy B, a sparkling debut novel about a woman on the verge... by budding star, Rose Heiney. All in all, things feel good at Short Books at the moment, challenging, and new, and full of potential.

    *****

    These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite Short Books titles:


  • Yale University Press

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

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

    Robert Baldock (Yale University Press): We have two principal markets. The first is the scholarly community in the disciplines we cover (humanities, art history and the social and behavioural sciences), for whom we publish high quality specialist scholarship. But the more interesting challenge is packaging top scholarship for the broader market. In our view the finest, deepest and best-written scholarship has the potential to reach the trade marketplace, and our publishing has proved this over the years.

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

    RB: The electronic challenge is clearly a preoccupation, and we are no wiser than the next publisher. Our view is that knowledge, and scholarship, will be captured electronically and move through different formats - digital, hardcopy, sound - and back again, according to demand. In the future books will have various lives in various formats. The impact of the electronic revolution, which we are living through, will be to democratize knowledge and information, and this is clearly its most significant feature. The challenge for publishers is to retain a role in the packaging and marketing of information, and we think we know how to do this. The bookseller, we imagine, faces a stiffer challenge.

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

    RB: Many factors, The originality and importance of the work, the dexterity with which it is presented, the likelihood that it will sell, the current shape of our list, the intellectual curiosity of our editors, the reputation (and cordiality) of the author, and the desire for glory.

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

    RB: Books which change opinion, and books which give pleasure. This year, our centenary year, we shall issue a list of the hundred Yale books that have 'made a difference'. As for those that give pleasure, that is for the reader to choose.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    RB: At any one time we have around 300 books in progress. Right now we have in press new books by Barry Cunliffe, Ian Kershaw, Philip Ziegler, Alberto Manguel, David Abulafia, Marcus Tanner, Hugh Trevor-Roper...

    *****

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


  • Luath Press

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

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

    Gavin MacDougall: People who enjoy well written books worth reading, wherever they are, whatever age.

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

    GM: Finding ways to reach people who enjoy well written books worth reading, wherever they are, whatever age.

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

    GM: Our commitment to publishing well written books worth reading. And whether we think we can sell enough copies of the book!

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

    GM: Here's a few that stand out...

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    GM: We're working on:

    • My Epileptic Lurcher - major new novel by Des Dillon
    • Right to Die - first in series of issue based novels by Hazel McHaffie
    • Faslane 365 - why non-violent direct action works and is worthwhile
    • Self Help in the 21st Century - modern version of Samuel Smiles' classic
    • Bad Catholics - gritty crime novel by James Green set in Irish London
    • Scar Hill - new novel from leading children's author Alan Temperley featuring single father suffering from Gulf War Syndrome

    *****

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


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