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Mon, 01 Jun 2009 08:46
Eland is an independent publisher, founded in 1982 and still owned and run by travel-writers. It is dedicated to reviving great travel books and has patiently built up a backlist of a hundred travel classics which includes biography, memoir and spirit-of-place fiction. We have in the last five years branched out to create three new categories: pocket books of the poetry of place, collections of travel writing called 'through writers eyes' as well as some original travel books.
The Book Depository: What/who do you see as your primary market?
Eland: We have a worldwide readership that is quite independent of any analysable class, occupation, religion, nationality or income group. Eland books are for readers who wish to explore the world in all its wonder, humour, cruelty and magnificence. By talking to our customers we have found that beside their love of books, they tend to make use of public transport, like live music, fresh food and local cafes. They seem to share our delight in individual achievement and a distrust in political systems.
The Book Depository: What are the principal challenges/opportunities you see at the moment in the business of publishing books?
Eland: Keeping to our high standards of book production whilst keeping our prices affordable. We occupy a distinctive niche and have no desire to grow beyond our small attic office complete with a bath and a sofa for the dog. Although it may be difficult for us to make first contact with our readers in todays bustling marketplace, once they have discovered our list they often become fiercely loyal and recommend us to like-minded friends.
The Book Depository: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?
Eland: We select the books that we cannot put down, and that you look forward to reading again almost the moment after you have finished them.
The Book Depository: What books are you most proud of having published?
Eland: We genuinely love all the books on our list, but if you wanted to start somewhere, Norman Lewis's Naples 44, Portrait of a Turkish Family by Irfan Orga, Mungo Park's Travels into the Interior of Africa, Gavin Maxwell's Lords of the Atlas and Nicolas Bouvier's The Way of the World would be amongst the cherries on top of the Eland cake.
The Book Depository: What books are you working on right now?
Eland: We've just published an illustrated biography of an Arab artist, a sort of louche but much more handsome version of Betjeman, flavoured with bits of Cafavy and Lawrence of Arabia who was murdered in Jordan. About this Man Called Ali: The Purple Life of an Arab Artist is a very modern book. It is about an individual stranded between different cultures, language, sexuality and religion. It will be difficult to get reviews for a first time author, let alone a Lebanese woman writing about a gay Jordanian artist from an aristocratic Syrian dynasty, or to sell many copies into the UK market, but put in into the hands of the right reader, it could become a life-changer.
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