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  • Thames & Hudson

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:40

    The Book Depository: What / who do you see as your primary market?

    Jonathan Earl: We certainly try to engage a number of core markets, according to our various fields of interest.

    Traditionally, as you know, Thames & Hudson has been regarded as pre-eminently a publisher of the arts. So our market here would be all those who enjoy the visual arts and the wide range of related disciplines in which we publish - design, architecture, fashion, photography, travel, and so forth.

    These may be general readers who enjoy our books purely from the perspective of their leisure interests. But they may also be professionals in the fields that I have described. Many of our titles are conceived and created with the professional market clearly in mind.

    They may also, of course, be students. From the early years of Thames & Hudson and the creation of the World of Art series over thirty years ago, we have always endeavoured to publish a range of titles that students will value.

    The way we see our readers derives directly from the mission of the founders of Thames & Hudson, Walter and Eva Neurath. They felt that T&H's duty was to reveal the world of art to the general public: to create, in their phrase, a ‘museum without walls’, and to make accessible to a broad reading public, at prices it could afford, the work of leading scholars.

    BD: What are the principal challenges / opportunities you see at the moment in the business of publishing books?

    JE: Someone must have said this before, but to me, the challenges and opportunities both stem from the same source - the massive surge in new technologies, linked to the inexorable rise of the internet as a central part of our daily lives.

    It's a challenge inasmuch as our traditional readers have never been so distracted by alternative media, and perhaps never been so tempted to set their books aside. It's an opportunity because we, as publishers, have much to bring to the table. We spend much of our time here analysing and tracking the multitude of developments emerging from the new media, and we feel confident in our ability to keep up with the curve. Having said this, we also feel that books in their traditional form will continue to engage the market, and in the field of visual books, where we pride ourselves in our high standards of design and production, we feel that our core customers will remain loyal. As you know yourselves, there are limits as to how much one can replicate the look and the feel of a great art book on the web or an e-book reader...

    BD: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title / author?

    JE: This decision comes about as the result of a multitude of factors: the expertise of the editor, who will know the chosen field intimately; the view of the marketplace, which we try to source and to study at every opportunity, and an awareness, again prompted by our knowledge of, and work with, the trade, of what are the most significant emerging areas of publishing. But perhaps as much as any other factor, we derive much simply from our experience of bringing books to the market over a period of nearly sixty years. To a relative newcomer to T&H like myself, the kind of publishing knowledge "embedded" in this company - in all its functions - is indeed impressive.

    BD: What books are you most proud of having published?

    JE: It's difficult to be specific with such a wide backlist, but here are a few suggestions from my own memory of Thames & Hudson, both as a past customer and a present employee.

    T&H has always greatly valued its close relationship with some of the key subjects of its publishing, be they artists, sculptors, photographers, designers or architects. An artist like David Hockney, for example, has been very close to the company for many years.

    I remember being struck when Thames & Hudson published, in 2001, his Secret Knowledge, a fascinating account of the working methods of the Old Masters. To see one of Britain's greatest painters engage with art history in this way seemed to me a superb publishing achievement.

    I've already mentioned the World of Art series, which to generations of readers has offered an essential course in art appreciation. The series has embodied many of the values that T&H cherishes as a publisher, and its success over such a long period is I think a testament to the early vision of our founders.

    In more recent years we have moved with the times and have embraced whole new fields of publishing. In an area like street art, for example, we have had great success with titles like Stencil Graffiti and Graffiti World, while in the burgeoning field of travel publishing, our Hip Hotels series has, I believe, set the benchmark.

    BD: What books are you working on right now?

    JE: We are preparing for what should be a really exciting autumn. To talk about "lead" titles would not do justice to the whole list, but here are a few particularly good prospects.

    We're certainly expecting great things of Julian Bell's Mirror of the World, a new history of art that we feel will become a touchstone for a new generation of readers.

    In the field of photography we are publishing Magnum Magnum, a volume created with the Magnum agency to celebrate their first sixty years. This will be a magnificent work, featuring 400 works from across the spectrum of Magnum photographers. An oversized, 568-page volume at ?5, we feel confident that this will be regarded as one of the great photography books of our time.

    Elsewhere, The Age of Empires, edited by Robert Aldrich; Peter Conrad's Creation, the late Richard Avedon's The Kennedys, featuring photographs of the family seen for the very first time; The Great Naturalists, edited by Robert Huxley, Street Sketchbook from Tristan Manco, our best-selling graffiti author; Jonathan Fenby's The Seventy Wonders of China and a superb photographic collection from Reuters, Sport in the 21st Century.

    And in case you wondered whether the big archaeological exhibition later this year had passed us by, we're pleased to be publishing King Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Tomb, the official luxury gift edition of the 02 show.

    So never a dull moment this autumn.

    *****

    These are The Book Depository's 5 favourite Thames & Hudson titles:


    Posted by Mark Mark

    Categories: publishers, Thames & Hudson

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