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Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40
Book Depository: What/who do you see as your primary market?
Giles Lewis (How To Books): Dreamers, in the best possible way. People who aspire to achieving something; whether it's in their personal lives – to make a great wedding speech, for instance; or at work – to start up their own coffee bar, for example. Our books create customers, too, by nudging a dream into existence that someone may not previously have been aware of. Try browsing our catalogue – you will find yourself saying over and again "I wouldn't mind doing that..."
BD: What are the principal challenges/opportunities you see at the moment in the business of publishing books?
GL: The greatest opportunities lie on the internet. The Book Depository is a classic example of a new and particular distribution channel for books that is net-enabled. The web will become home base for our books when we have worked through the initiatives that we started early last year. We cover a very wide range of subject matters, and each book serves a niche of potential readers. Where better to reach those niches than on the web? We are Chris Anderson's The Long Tail personified!
Of course the web brings its own challenges, too; most opportunities of this magnitude require new adjustments, but they are mainly fresh approaches to the same old things that have always lain at the core of the book business such as authors, copyright, distribution, bibliographic data.
BD: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?
GL: Authenticity, in a word. Our authors need to have been there and done it. Only then will they know the realities of what they are writing about; the things that really matter when you are investing in the stock market, going for a job interview, writing your dissertation or managing an event. Most of our authors can only "do" one subject, but they are masters of it.
BD: What books are you most proud of having published?
GL: We believe that almost all our books are undersold in the book trade, we are that proud of them! I admire all our authors for writing sixty five thousand words when they are neither academic nor literary. A good example is 'Dirty Nails', the pseudonym for the author of How To Grow Your Own Food, a wonderful, passionate book about growing and cooking veg which stems from the popular gardening column he writes 'in amongst it' on the vegetable plot for The Blackmore Vale Magazine every week. How To Make Your Own Will by a solicitor devoted to bringing law within the reach and pocket of the common man. Quick Solutions to Common Errors in English, another work of love from an ex-teacher. The Small Business Start-Up Workbook, also written with infectious passion. It is extraordinary how passion can run through a book list where you might least expect it - in prosaic, non-fiction reference; but How To Books is, of course, an aspirational, self-help list, and that breeds passionate inspiration.
BD: What books are you working on right now?
GL: We publish over 80 new books and new editions a year, a remarkable output for a production team as small as ours. Starting and Running a Greeting Cards Business is a recent key title. We are now working on final covers for August's The New Puppy Owner's Manual. We are proofing September's Going to Live and Work in Brazil and October's Practical Manual of Beekeeping. We are editing November's fourth edition of our Creative Writer's Workbook, and the authors are about to deliver their script for December's Free Your Self From Anxiety. And we are already designing covers for January's Growing Great Kids and the other nine titles scheduled to kick off next year's exciting programme for us.
These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite How To Books' titles:
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