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Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40
Book Depository: What/who do you see as your primary market?
Margaret Robe (British Museum Press): Our publishing mission follows that of the British Museum, a museum of the world and for the world. We publish books across ancient and contemporary world cultures, their art and artefacts, their past and their future. Our list includes titles for very different markets – including general readers coming fresh to a new subject, experts seeking the very latest research and discoveries in their field, and children and families. These highly-illustrated books cover archaeology, history, the Classical world, the Renaissance, treasures from the Middle East, Asia, the Americas, Africa, and much more – all drawing on the extensive collections of the British Museum.
BD: What are the principal challenges/opportunities you see at the moment in the business of publishing books?
MR: It's hard to gauge to what extent readers will embrace digitization of books, and how that will affect booksellers and publishers. For now, it's important for smaller publishers to remain open-minded and listen to advice from colleagues in the trade before costly decisions are made. However we see new media and Web 2.0 as a wonderful tool, allowing readers from around the world to go online, link up and learn more about the museum, its amazing collections, and our publications, even if they cannot visit London.
BD: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?
MR: We aim to publish across the Museum's collections, so that every area is represented. The collections are so extensive that this encourages a wide variety of types of publications. Many of our authors are curators and experts working in the museum itself but we do publish external authors too. We're very lucky that we have our own shops in the museum, and so we get direct feedback from a fantastic customer base. Of course we publish exhibition books and catalogues for exhibitions such as the First Emperor and Hadrian, but we also publish general books, including small gift books, children's books which support Key Stage 2 of the national curriculum, and many illustrated books on different topics.
BD: What books are you most proud of having published?
MR: We published last season a terrific book for families and children, called 500 Things to Know About the Ancient World, which was awarded the prize for Best Publication by the Association for Cultural Enterprises, an organization that promotes dialogue & development between the museums and heritage sites in the UK. Some of our best-selling topics are, of course, Ancient Egypt and hieroglyphs, and many of our best-selling titles are in this area.
BD: What books are you working on right now?
MR: We've just published the exhibition books for Hadrian: Empire and Conflict, together with a range of titles on Rome and Roman history, such as Concise Introduction: Ancient Rome and, for children, V-Mail: Letters from the Romans at Vindolanda Fort near Hadrian's Wall. We're now working on the books for our Babylon show in November, and finishing other key autumn titles such as Masterpieces of Medieval Art, a lovely illustrated giftbook on Dogs: History, Myth, Art and the new British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt.
These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite British Museum Press titles:
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