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Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40
The Book Depository: What/who do you see as your primary market?
Najma Finlay: Aside from the fact that we don't publish any fiction, we're pretty open-minded as a publisher and quite deliberately have few no-go areas. But our specialties lie in quality, intelligent but nonetheless popular non-fiction, in science, history, politics, philosophy, psychology and sport. It's generally true that ideas, in some form or another, are at the heart of everything Icon publishes -- and so our books are aimed at anyone and everyone for whom thinking means a bit more than choosing what to wear in the morning.
The Book Depository: What are the principal challenges/opportunities you see at the moment in the business of publishing books?
Najma Finlay: Few businesses are likely to escape the ravages of the likely recession that we're heading into, and I'm sure book publishing will be no exception. But as people, out of economic necessity if nothing else, try to rediscover ways of entertaining themselves that are cheap, fulfilling and environmentally friendly, there are few activities that fit that bill as well as reading books, so perhaps there are some reasons to be optimistic.
The Book Depository: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?
Najma Finlay: Choosing to publish one title or author over another is probably about 20% science and 80% educated guesswork. We publish what we think people will like to read, what we'd like to read, and what we think we can sell (three criteria that don't always add up to the same answer). As a smallish publisher, our authors are not, on the whole, hugely well-known. So each book of ours needs a spark, a hook, some flair about it that we think can give it a fighting chance.
The Book Depository: What books are you most proud of having published?
Najma Finlay: I'm most proud of Jessica Williams' 50 Facts that Should Change the World. Originally published in 2004, it quickly became a hit, and sold very well throughout the world. And Jessica was an entirely unknown author (although her writing was spot-on and one of the most enjoyable authors I've ever had the pleasure of dealing with). It's since been translated into numerous foreign languages and has spawned a panoply of imitators.
The Book Depository: What books are you working on right now?
Najma Finlay: Manjit Kumar's magisterial Quantum is just about to be published â the history of the birth of quantum theory and, for anyone gripped by the turning-on drama of the Large Hadron Collider, is the essential background read telling the story of how this mind-bogglingly weird but utterly fundamental science all started.
For next spring, John Gribbin's first ever non-science book will be a popular, fans' eye-view of Buddy Holly â a new biography published 50 years after this bespectacled giant of pop music was killed.
We have an appropriate new title for our famous Introducing series, Capitalism -- ideal to help understand why Western governments nationalizing banks is quite such a radical step 00 and I'm particularly looking forward to William Little's The Psychic Tourist: A Voyage into the Curious World of Predicting the Future. Perhaps we'll learn what the bestselling book of Christmas 2009 will be...
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