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Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40
Book Depository: What/who do you see as your primary market?
Mathew Clayton (Cassell Illustrated): For Cassell it is probably people that buy books in Waterstones and Borders and via places like The Book Depository. If you stand inside those stores though you see a dizzying array of different types of people.
BD: What are the principal challenges/opportunities you see at the moment in the business of publishing books?
MC: The internet is the biggest challenge for non-fiction publishers. People now turn to it for information on many topics they once would have looked up in books. Publishers need to try even harder to make sure their books are attractive objects that people want to own. The internet is also a great opportunity not just for giving a voice to new talented writers but as a way of marketing books.
BD: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?
MC: We look for original ideas that we think will have an audience. We publish books mainly about popular culture and the ideas need to broadly fit into that category.
BD: What books are you most proud of having published?
MC: For me it is always the last thing you did. So that is the Ward Lock travel guides. These are 1950s guides to regional Britain, charming little hardbacks with bright red cloth covers and fold out maps that we are re-publishing. They contain very detailed historical information and offer a fascinating window into how people perceived the world 60 years ago. A 36-hour sea trip from London to Edinburgh, for instance, is described as "short".
BD: What books are you working on right now?
MC: I am very excited about an anthology of nature writing we are publishing next year with the people behind the super cool record label Heavenly. Caught by the River is going to be an amazing collection of essays about British rivers. We will be announcing the book properly very shortly but it has an incredibly strong list of contributors drawn from both the rock and roll and literary worlds. It came out of this blog: www.caughtbytheriver.net and we will be promoting it at various festivals next summer.
We are also about to publish the fifth edition of our 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. This was the book that started our 1001 range. They are now published in 25 countries and have sold close to 4 million copies across 13 titles. New additions next year include 1001 Inventions and 1001 Children’s Books – it has turned into a real publishing phenomena. The simplest ideas are often the best.
We also have some great humour books coming out this autumn. A book of pop songs turned into bar charts called, not surprisingly, Pop Charts. It sounds weird but is very funny. And a book with the magazine Found — a selection of letters and notes picked up off the street — again very funny but often quite heartbreaking.
These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite Cassell Illustrated titles:
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