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  • University of Hawai'i Press

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

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

    Royden Muranaka (University of Hawai'i Press): University of Hawai'i Press has three specific markets for its publications: (1) scholars and academics around the globe who purchase our titles on Asian Studies and Pacific Studies; (2) students purchasing our textbooks for university course work in the social sciences and humanities; (3) readers interested in learning more about Hawai'i, its people, language, history, and culture.

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

    RM: The principal challenges that we face at present are fewer people reading, increased cost of publications due to declining printruns creating higher price points that seem to be meeting resistance in the marketplace, and economic unease around the globe. Opportunities include electronic versions of publications, print on demand options which will reduce print inventory, allow a book to remain available well into the future, and we can publish on extremely narrow but important topics that would not meet traditional financial margins.

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

    RM: We are editorial driven so the book's content is the deciding factor on whether to invest in a project and/or author. Having said that, marketing forecasts and financial projections determine if -- and how much -- a project needs in terms of a cash subsidy to support itself. All of our publications must meet agreed upon financial criteria in order to be published. The acquisitions editors are aware of the financial aspects when they contract an author and understand they might be required to approach funding agencies in order for the book to be published.

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

    RM: Books that have stood the test of time and books that are regularly cited in other publications as the most important in their field. For example, our first publication, the three volume The Hawaiian Kingdom by history professor Ralph Kuykendall has been in print since 1947 and informed tens of thousands of Hawai'i's students about the history of the Islands. Hundreds of thousands of students around the world have learned the Japanese language from the four volume Learn Japanese by John Young. Paul Varley's classic text on Japanese Culture is now in a fourth edition and widely used in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. It has been translated into Spanish, Polish, Czech, Romanian, and Japanese.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    RM: A lavishly illustrated book on Beijing Opera costumes, a two volume introduction to the Chinese language, a sociology of Southeast Asia, several titles in Buddhist studies, and a major reference book on the ethnobotany of Pohnpei.

    *****

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


  • Earthscan

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

    Mark Thwaite: What/who do you see as your primary market?

    Jonathan Sinclair-Wilson: Our markets have evolved over the two decades Earthscan has been publishing. (2008 marks our 20th anniversary.) Back then, the issues were peripheral to all but a few activist NGOs and enlightened academics, researchers and policy types, and our books were aimed more at raising consciousness and getting those issues on to policy and other agendas. Since then, of course – partly, we like to think, because of what we’ve published – they have come to dominate agendas, whether political, professional or personal. At the same time, the depth and complexity of the issues have become more apparent – think of the intractable questions surrounding climate change, biofuels and food security – and with them the need for high quality research outputs and professionally relevant and practically applicable material.

    We have always been in the difficult position for a publisher of publishing ahead of the evolution of our main markets, whether academic – the subject matter is intrinsically cross-disciplinary and there aren’t yet university departments of sustainability or climate change – or professional, where job functions, training requirements and regulation, which all help to drive demand for information, have yet to crystallize around the imperatives of sustainability.

    But this is changing. More academic and training courses are being established around the world in our areas, and in the business, professional and public spheres the recognition of the importance of tackling sustainability challenges is developing very rapidly. We see the principal growth for the future being in academic and professional markets across the range of subjects we cover – from resource management, economics and development to the built environment, technology and business – while we will continue to bring out important and generally relevant titles like Jonathon Porritt’s Capitalism As If the World Matters and Chris Goodall’s How to Live a Low-Carbon Life for a wider audience.

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

    JSW: I think they vary with the kinds of books being published. The inordinately complex supply chain from author through publisher and downstream to the eventual customer, and where each title is to some extent an individual product line, is common to all (physical) book publishers, but the additional opportunities of digital printing and, especially, electronic publication, are pulling different kinds of book in different directions. For a publisher of our scale – we brought out 73 books last year and aim to bring out over 90 this year – and in our areas – international, cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary and often urgent – the principal challenge and opportunity is e-publishing. It is a strategic challenge in that the market is still only small for e-books but we are sure that it will grow and that we will need to make our titles more widely available on digital platforms, and not only because of the reduced environmental impacts (though detailed comparisons suggest the savings here may be somewhat exaggerated).

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

    JSW: Our publishing is rarely if ever author-driven, though it is vital that our authors have the experience and credibility in the field to support the arguments they are making. What we look for is some or all of the following, in clarifying or advancing the understanding of what constitutes sustainability in the area the book covers, and what decisions should flow from that understanding: originality, accuracy, clarity, importance, relevance, effectiveness, and applicability.

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

    JSW: There is a long list of notable and influential titles that Earthscan has published down the years, which have helped to shape and move discussion of sustainability forward, but what we should be most proud of is the list as a whole. To develop an extensive programme across a wide range of intrinsically complex and interconnected subject areas and ahead of the development curve of the corresponding markets is quite a commercial and publishing challenge. Just to be here after 20 years is therefore something of an accomplishment, but to have as a legacy a high-quality and highly regarded list with good growth prospects and the scope to continue to publish influential and important work is something everyone who has been involved with Earthscan can take pride in.

    MT: What books are you working on now?

    JSW: Easiest just to refer you to earthscan.co.uk where you’ll find our catalogues on the home page. It’s always invidious to single out specific titles but at the same time it’s hard not to boast about many of the ones we have scheduled, such as Sustainable Investing by two of the leading authorities in the field and which could be instrumental in helping to move the financial markets – the real movers and shakers – onto a sustainable footing. Or The Power of Sustainable Thinking to enable us to generate change, personally, organizationally and socially, towards sustainability. Or Positive Development which demonstrates how planning and development of the built environment can go through the spurious threshold of ‘carbon neutrality’ to deliver the genuinely positive development of carbon reduction and environmental regeneration. Or the new editions in our series of Atlases. Or the major new textbook on Understanding Sustainable Development. Or … I could go on, but would rather encourage readers to browse our titles themselves to see what meets their needs or catches their interests. Those who want to keep up to date with new titles can sign up to our E-Newsletter at our website, which will also announce monthly 20th anniversary special offers throughout 2008.

    *****

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


    Posted by Mark Mark

    Categories: publishers, Earthscan

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  • John Blake

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

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

    John Blake (John Blake Publishing): The basic question we ask when commissioning any book is: could this possibly be a best-seller? It doesn't matter then if it is a cookbook, a biography, a sports book or a humour title ... we will go for it! I suppose that makes us unashamedly populist and mass-market.

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

    JB: The huge changes in the business of selling books is the shift from traditional bookshops to selling books in supermarkets and on the net. Both of these outlets present glorious new opportunities. People are buying more books than ever before, so long as publishers give them the books they want.

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

    JB: Commercial potential is usually the only real consideration when deciding whether to publish a particular book. Though we average 20 submissions a day I can usually tell within 30 seconds if a book will be likely to work for us or not. Though I have to admit I have more than once said "no" to books which have gone on to sell really well for someone else.

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

    JB: Whilst we have published many beautiful books, I am proudest of two , which were both number one best-selling hardbacks. The first is The Guv'nor, which is the autobiography of Lenny McLean, the bare-knuckle fighter and actor. The Guv'nor was rejected by every major publisher and sat in the author's drawer for two years. When Lenny told me he was dying from cancer I decided to publish his book, partly to lift his spirits. The book went straight to number one and went on to sell many hundreds of thousands of copies. It also created the "hardman" genre, which thrives to this day. The second book is Being Jordan, by Katie Price, which has now sold more than a million copies and created the celebrity biography genre. This, again, was widely rejected by publishers. The biggest books tend to be those which are totally unlike anything that has gone before.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    JB: We publish about a dozen books a month and we, obviously, like all of them. However we are particularly excited about three wonderful books we will publish in the Spring. They are Trisha: As I Am by Trisha Goddard, the wonderful TV presenter. I think this is our most amazing autobiography since Being Jordan. Then there is the heartbreaking Sun On The Water, which is the story of the glorious life and tragic death of singer Kirsty MacColl, written by her mother Jean MacColl. And finally A Funny Kind of Love, the wicked autobiography of Sian Lloyd, everyone's favourite TV weather girl.

    *****

    These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite John Blake titles:


  • Faber and Faber

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

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

    Stephen Page (CEO, Faber and Faber): Anyone who reads. It might sound flippant but as passionate as we are about books and as proud as we are of our literary heritage, our biggest raison d’etre is to take our books to as wide an audience as possible. Popularity and quality should not be seen as mutually exclusive. That said, our most dedicated market are the readers who coalesce around our Literary Publishing, including the Poetry and Performing Arts lists – they are the people to whom Faber means the most.

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

    SP: Margins are getting ever slimmer and that's a tough climate to operate in. Also, there is a polarisation occurring in the book industry today with bestsellers getting bigger, and the lower ranking titles getting smaller. It’s a real challenge to publish a spread of books successfully. The opportunity this presents is for the creation of a list of very high quality books along with exploration of niches and communities. We spend increasingly more time and effort engaging with our readers and bringing them into the Faber fold – we’re re-launching our website in April with the emphasis very much on connecting readers to authors and vice versa.

    Developments in technology also raise a whole range of opportunities and risks. Copyright and territoriality are threatened as never before, but the opportunity to create new ways of publishing and reaching new people in new ways are terrifically exciting indeed.

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

    SP: It is so hard to sum this up simply. As you might expect quality is hugely important – if a proposal or manuscript doesn’t pass our quality filter, it’s unlikely we’ll publish it. That said, we’re not interested in buying books we don’t feel have a readership, although we take a long view about some works and certainly of a writer’s long term career. We have different commercial criteria for different areas of our list. It’s quite clear that a debut playwright with a play on at the Bush theatre isn’t going to sell as many copies of their playscript as a new novel by Ishiguro - we’re banking on a few being the best writing talent in their field, on becoming the Golding or Stoppard of their generation.

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

    SP: That’s hard. In the last few months at Faber we published The Letters of Ted Hughes which is an extraordinary book. The luck of working at Faber is that the publishing feels so worthwhile. I suppose the professional pride comes from transforming a book’s life, feeling that your involvement as a company has played a great role in a book’s success. At Faber I’d cite Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Jenny Uglow’s two wonderful books, The Lunar Men and Nature’s Engraver as particularly strong experiences.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    SP: 2008 is lining up to be the most extraordinary year for us – we’ve got an embarrassment of riches and everyone is frantically busy getting everything lined up!

    Peter Carey's His Illegal Self, Something to Tell You by Hanif Kureishi and Sebastian Barry’s new novel The Secret Scripture

  • AVA Publishing

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

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

    Clare Tyrer (AVA): Students, practioners and any interested in the applied visual arts and communication discipline.

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

    CT: To develop a different approach to educational books through innovative and vibrant design. Applied visual arts is one of the fastest growing set of disciplines in the further education sector. In addition to this, many topics, such as fashion design, photography and film-making generate considerable mainstream interest where professionally informed texts are increasingly sought.

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

    CT: We work closely with academics and experts in the field in order to identify emerging subjects or those that are not currently adequately addressed.

    Our primary concern is to publish visually inspiring books that encourage learning. The recent publication of David Crow's left to right reflects this trend as it explores the theme of the emergence of visual rather than textual based learning as the default for new learners and increasingly society as a whole.

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

    CT: We are proud of all our books, but our key achievement has been the clear structure we have developed for our publishing plan.

    The first level is The Fundamentals a wide range of introductory titles supported by Visual Dictionaries. These are accessible books aimed at further education students and those looking for a thorough grounding in the subject.

    The second level is The Basics, which offer a more in depth exploration of each of the topics covered in the Fundamental titles. Like the Fundamentals, they provide a both a theoretical and practical approach supported by examples and exercises.

    The third layer is the Advanced series, which provide professional, undergraduate and practioner audiences with a detailed exploration of the topic covered.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    CT: We will be developing our publishing plan expanding our Fashion, Film-making and Advertising collection titles along side our more established series such as Graphic Design and Photography.

    *****

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


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