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Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40
Book Depository: What/who do you see as your primary market?
Michael Richards (Boydell & Brewer): Despite an increasingly successful trade list, the heart of Boydell & Brewer remains its academic programme. Founded by a historian and a Chaucer scholar, the company continues to publish books for academics in the fields of history, literature, music and cultural studies. Along the way we hope to also inform and entertain that most elusive of beings, the "interested general reader".
BD: What are the principal challenges/opportunities you see at the moment in the business of publishing books?
MR: More and more publishers are heading towards the mainstream, which leaves a wealth of interesting material for us to publish. The challenge, as always, is finding those specialists who need our kind of book and ultimately making niche publishing pay.
BD: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?
MR: A book, or its author, should always have something new and challenging to say.
BD: What books are you most proud of having published?
MR: It's impossible to narrow 30 years of publishing and thousands of titles down to just a handful of "greatest hits". Recently, one might point to Thomas Beecham: An Obsession with Music by John Lucas, a superb biography about an important musician that was turned down by its original publisher because it wasn't enough of a mainstream title. Or Leprosy in Medieval England , the culmination of a lifetime's scholarship by Carole Rawcliffe which dispels many of the popular myths about the disease.
At the other end of the scale, our 7 volume edition of the Entring Book of Roger Morrice and the ongoing 9 volume edition of the Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti are exactly the sort of projects that Boydell & Brewer was born to publish. They bring a wealth of material to students and researchers that previously could only be accessed by hours of trawling through archives.
In the end, though, how can one choose between Medieval East Anglia and The Bayeux Tapestry, our much needed reissues of The Dukes of Valois Burgundy and translations of the various Grail legends, Nelson’s lost letters or a study of Handel's Operas?
BD: What books are you working on right now?
MR: Our next big music book will certainly be Elliott Carter: A Centennial Portrait in Letters and Documents by Felix Meyer and Anne C Shreffler, published in November 2008 to coincide with the modernist composer’s 100th birthday.
Also 100 years old next year but sadly no longer with us, the philosopher Isaiah Berlin is celebrated through a fascinating series of personal recollections in The Book of Isaiah, for publication in May 2009.
Our lists in German and Spanish cultural studies grow ever more impressive, and a key title for the Autumn 2008 is The Companion to Spanish Cinema by Bernard Bentley - the first detailed study written in English for English readers.
Finally a 2009 highlight from our core publishing area, medieval history: The Medieval Cook by Bridget Anne Henisch looks at the world “celebrity” chefs in the great aristocratic households and the peasant wife making the most from scarce resources and even what you might expect to enjoy as street food in that time.
These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite Boydell & Brewer titles:
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