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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:
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