What The Pandemic Has Meant For Us

In this post Tommi reflects on the unprecedented events of 2020 and how they have affected us as a business and as a team.

Well, what a strange year this has been! As England starts its new month-long series of restrictions, it’s a good time to look back on how this year has been for Multilingual Matters and Channel View Publications.

At the beginning of 2020, Multilingual Matters and Channel View Publications were looking at a good year of publications and a very healthy production pipeline of new materials. Following on from a year where sales had been quite depressed, we were seeing really good financial figures and the business was looking very healthy. We had two members of staff away on parental leave, but we were looking forward to welcoming them back in the summer and to really forging bravely into the future. Brexit loomed as a potential difficulty, and we were thinking about what steps we could take to make the business more environmentally friendly.

During a February vacation taking some friends to visit my home in Finland we had started to see an increased number of reports of coronavirus spreading, and the seemingly drastic measures taken in Wuhan to contain the virus as much as possible. It seemed like a sad situation, but such a long way away from us. I returned to my desk in early March and discussed with Anna Roderick whether we should start to consider our work-related travel to conferences, not really so much from a health perspective, but more because we felt it might just not be worth flying to the conferences if few people would attend. Then slowly the conference cancellations started coming in, and before long there was talk of what would happen if the UK government announced a lockdown. Every day brought different announcements, and it was getting very difficult to believe that anyone had any sensible plan at all. I found it almost impossible to concentrate on actual work, and we all speculated on when we might be told to work from home.

One evening while giving blood at my local blood donor centre, I sat and watched the news on the TV. Since our national government clearly wasn’t going to make a decision anytime soon, I typed a message out with one hand to my colleagues saying that “from tomorrow, we’ll work from home”. We all took our laptops home, and that was it. I expected it to be six weeks, or maybe two months. I did not expect that in November, eight months later, I would still be working from home and that I would have only seen my colleagues face-to-face a handful of times during that period. Had I known it would last this long, I would probably have suggested that we work in the office one last day, all have lunch together, and then go home, but at the time it seemed more sensible to break as many chains of contact as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, over the years our systems have been designed to allow homeworking and remote working while travelling, so the switch to working from home was technically not too difficult, and our team was pretty quickly coming up with strategies to make home working seem less lonely, including a shared 2.30pm break to listen to the same song, with each member of staff choosing the song on rotating days. We definitely have an eclectic taste in music across the whole team! Some of us had been working from home for a long time already, and so Sarah Williams and Anna Roderick were able to give us “newcomers” some tips and advice on how to organise ourselves, and enjoyed a more social atmosphere than before, now that us office workers began to understand the importance of regular contact!

About 10 days after we had decided to work from home, the government made a national announcement that we should all work from home and not leave our houses unless shopping for food, or for essential exercise once per day. All non-essential shops were to close, as were all workplaces that could not operate in a COVID-safe manner. Amazon stopped ordering books to focus on other product lines, and our two biggest wholesale customers closed their doors for an indefinite period. It was clear that this was not going to be a short, sharp shock and then back to business as usual. Together with the senior management team at Multilingual Matters and Channel View Publications, we took the decision that the two most important things that we could do were to focus on staff wellbeing, and to conserve as much cash as possible. We immediately stopped all longer print runs and switched to digital printing, and decided that we would delay sending the usual complimentary copies of the books. We also wrote to all of our authors asking for patience with our annual royalties payments. We asked that authors who were either self-employed, in precarious employment or otherwise in a financial situation where the money would make a difference to their daily lives identify themselves to us so that we could prioritise payments to them, and that otherwise we would delay payments to a time when cashflow would allow. Our authors and editors responded with such warm and supportive messages. Many people wrote to offer words of encouragement and support, to insist that others were prioritised, and a good number even offered to donate their royalties to us this year. To all of you, I would like to extend a very heartfelt thank you from the whole Multilingual Matters and Channel View Publications team. The financial breathing room that this gave us was vital. But even more vital was the psychological boost that we got from feeling that we were genuinely valued as part of the community.

As the weeks went by, the news was mixed. One of our biggest wholesale customers declared bankruptcy, leaving us with a considerable bad debt. Fortunately, around that time the other wholesale customer started to re-open their warehouse, and orders began to come in, albeit at a much reduced volume. At the same time we started to see the sales of ebooks to libraries increase, which gave us some confidence that we weren’t going to be facing a complete halt in income. We were able to start sending out complimentary copies again, and we started to pay royalties. By the end of July we had caught up and paid all outstanding royalties where we knew we had payment preferences recorded. We also saw an increase in the number of manuscript submissions and so we felt that the decision to keep working rather than to go on furlough was definitely the right one. We have been innovative, arranging webinars and events on Zoom to promote the books from authors who have not been able to show off their work at conferences. Expect to see more of this over the coming months as we plan to introduce more of our publications in this manner.

Our “summer” pub lunch together

We arranged a few social events, including the ubiquitous Zoom “pub quiz” that has been a lockdown experience for most Brits, afternoon drinks, and even a shared Devon cream tea, which Sarah Williams organised for us one week. In the summer we managed to meet face-to-face on one occasion, with seven of us sitting around a large pub table at a time when social restrictions had been lifted temporarily. I still hold onto that lunch as one of my favourite lunches of the year! Although I certainly miss seeing my colleagues every day in the office, I think we have managed as well as is possible to keep a sense of togetherness going, which will prove vital as we now head towards a more difficult winter lockdown.

What will the coming months bring? I think February 2020 shows that we cannot take anything for granted, but equally so does March, April and May. It has been a much tougher year so far than I could ever have imagined when it started, but it has not been as bleak as we thought it would be at some times during April and May. We still expect that Brexit will cause some headaches for us as trade regulations and rules around exporting change. We do not yet know how bad the winter spread of coronavirus will be, or when we might be able to have more normal interactions with each other. Conference travel and bookfair travel seem a very long way away still. We can only imagine that with the levels of financial intervention that many countries have had to take over the past year, budgets of all publicly funded institutions will be strained, and this will no doubt have an impact on us in the future. But we are financially much more stable today than we were in February, and I believe that we are also more resilient as a team.

I could not be prouder of how my colleagues have responded to the difficulties and challenges this year has produced, and how we have still managed to find positives and celebrate successes. I strongly believe that this year has shown that we can overcome some really difficult situations when we, both in-house and as a wider community, work together to make sure that we look after each other’s interests.

Tommi

Industry Award Winners Again!

We have been the proud holders of an ‘Excellence Plus’ Product Data Excellence Award from the Book Industry Communication (BIC) for a few years now (and there are a few previous posts about our journey elsewhere on our blog!). While they may not be the most glamorous of awards to win, and are marked by a certificate arriving in the post, rather than an Oscar’s style ceremony, they are still very important. In short, they are the book industry’s way of certifying that we provide all the ‘behind the scenes’ information about our books to everyone in the industry, in a complete and timely manner.

This year, BIC extended their award scheme to include the new Supply Chain Excellence Award, alongside the Product Data Excellence Award. We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded an Excellence award, one of only seven publishers in the UK to receive this award (seating ourselves alongside the likes of HarperCollins, Penguin Random House and Sage) and to be one of only two UK publishers using a third-party distributor to get this award. What an achievement for a small independent publisher!

The Supply Chain Award differs from the Product Excellence Award in that it focuses more on working processes, rather than on the books themselves. BIC describe winners of the award as ‘modern, technically-capable, efficient to do business with, and compliant with industry standards and practices…the best in their class for business efficiency, customer service, environmental concern and innovation.’

The questionnaire application itself was surprisingly easy, and future applicants shouldn’t be daunted by the 22-page form(!) nor the technical terms. It’s certainly simpler than it looks! For me, the tricky bit was getting the hang of the lingo…the publishing industry is full of its own wonderful list of acronyms and systems, so while most of the questions related to things that we already do, they often happen behind the scenes (and seamlessly) and I had to write to some of our partners to check how the systems work. In happy news, our distributor, NBN International, and the database company we use, Stison, were also among the tiny list of award winners in their categories. We are happy to be working together with such great partners, and it goes to show that sometimes in order to succeed, you need the support of top teams too.

We don’t like to blow our own trumpet, but we think that achieving this award demonstrates that not only are our books among the most exciting in our field, but that we too as a company rank among the best in the industry.

How Has Language Education Changed Over Time?

This month we published Language Education in a Changing World by Rod Bolitho and Richard Rossner. In this post the authors explain what inspired them to write the book and why they think it is needed.

We’re pleased: after a long period of gestation and writing we’ve just received copies of our new book Language Education in a Changing World.

So what inspired us to write the book, and why do we think it is needed? Combined, our experience in language education spans 100 years. We have become increasingly aware that the time-honoured segmentations of foreign language education, teaching and learning of the language of schooling, language sensitive subject teaching and so on are no longer meaningful, if they ever were.

We have tried to take stock of how language and communication permeate and impact on all education at all ages, and in the book we review some of the thought-provoking work done by the Council of Europe and specialists in the fields of educational applied linguistics, multilingualism and pluralistic approaches. How have these perspectives impacted on learning in the classroom over the last 40 years? What is being done around the world – or at least in the parts of the world where we have been able to glean information – to incorporate holistic views of language and students’ language repertoires in education, and in teacher education? What could be done to foster dynamic collaboration among teachers and teacher educators across the curriculum? These are some of the questions we have addressed. It was quite a learning experience for us!

In the book we take a fairly close look at four or five areas in particular. We start with an exploration of the role of language and languages in learning and teaching, before going on to look at the recent history and current state of foreign language education and the somewhat controversial impact of English in education. In the second part of the book, we examine teacher education, both pre-service education and continuing professional development for teachers of languages, as well as the extent to which language and communication issues are addressed in the education of teachers of other subjects. The third part of the book focuses on policy around language in education and the roles various stakeholders play in influencing and implementing – or resisting – change. Then we end with our own wish list of future developments in policy around language in education and teacher education.

As potential readers, we had in mind education professionals of all kinds who are interested in exploring the role of language in the teaching of all subjects across the curriculum, including teachers of language, other teachers as well as teacher educators. We hope policymakers, textbook writers, curriculum developers and researchers will also find the book useful. Whatever their role and specific interests, we would welcome readers’ reactions to the contents of our book, and the policy recommendations we have made.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like The Action-oriented Approach by Enrica Piccardo and Brian North.

Digital Conferences and a Virtual Book Fair

Having posted on the blog earlier in the year about our busy upcoming conference season, unfortunately the outbreak of coronavirus worldwide has forced many of these events to be postponed or cancelled. We always look forward to catching up with our authors and other contacts and it’s a real shame that these important gatherings won’t be going ahead, but given the circumstances, it’s a wise decision for the organisers to have made.

So that our authors and customers don’t miss out from a book-buying perspective, we are holding a ‘virtual book fair’ this conference season (originally the brainchild of publisher Trevor Ketner who started the hashtag #AWPVirtualBookfair on Twitter after many presses were forced to pull out of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference). If you were hoping to grab a bargain at a forthcoming conference and now won’t be able to, you can use our code SPECIAL40 at the checkout on our website to get 40% off your order.

CAUTHE 2020, Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Aotearoa/New Zealand

In February Sarah made her annual trip to the other side of the world for CAUTHE, held this year at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In this post she fills us in on her best CAUTHE experience ever!

Tihei mauri ora, tihei mauri ora
Ngā iwi o te motu e
Tü ake, karangatia
Tü ake, manaakitia
Ngā iwi, kia ora rā
Ngā iwi, kia ora rā

I haven’t been able to stop singing the conference Māori welcome song since I’ve been back! It was beautifully performed on the first morning by the AUT staff, led by Valance Smith, and all delegates were encouraged to join in each day of the conference. That was only one of the highlights of the conference’s opening morning! Delegates were invited to take part in a musical activity (Boom Time) which was a lot of fun even if you are rhythmically-challenged 😃

Alison Phipps then provided the opening keynote. We are proud to call Alison a friend of our company as well as a series editor and author. Her keynote on inhospitable hospitality and the treatment of refugees was in equal parts stunning, disturbing, breathtaking, uncomfortable and moving. It generated a lot of discussion during the following days and was an amazing start to a brilliant conference.

Alison's keynote
Alison’s keynote

The first day finished with the welcome reception and another moving performance, this time from the AUT student choir who performed Māori songs and finished with a haka.

The rest of the conference didn’t disappoint, with impressive paper presentations and other great keynotes from John Barrett, the founder of Kapiti Island Tours, on valuing people and community over profit, and from Iis Tussyadiah on AI and smart technologies.

Workshop
Our book workshop!

On the second day I co-hosted a workshop on the role of the book with two more of our series editors and authors, Ian Yeoman and Una McMahon-Beattie. It was a fun experience and I hope the attendees found it helpful!

Huge credit and many thanks go to the conference organisers, Tracy Harkison,  David Williamson, Glen Bailey (and many others!) for putting on the best CAUTHE I’ve attended!

Post-conference, I visited Wellington and Christchurch where I enjoyed the hospitality of Ian Yeoman and his wife (and dogs!) and Michael Hall and his family (thanks again for the chocolate!), and on my return to Auckland took a day trip to Tauranga.

Already looking forward to next year’s conference in Fremantle!

Sarah

Exciting New Multilingual Matters Titles for 2020

We can’t believe the first month of 2020 is almost over! It seems like only yesterday we were decorating the office and singing along to our Christmas playlist. However, if January has seemed like a very long month to you, we have plenty of exciting new titles coming up to fend off the winter blues. Here’s a selection of what we’ve got in store for you this spring…

Global TESOL for the 21st Century by Heath Rose, Mona Syrbe, Anuchaya Montakantiwong and Natsuno Funada

This book explores the impact of the spread of English on language teaching and learning. It provides a framework for change in the way English is taught to better reflect global realities and to embrace current research. The book is essential reading for postgraduate researchers, teachers and teacher trainers in TESOL.

Speaking Spanish in the US by Janet M. Fuller and Jennifer Leeman

This book introduces readers to basic concepts of sociolinguistics with a focus on Spanish in the US. The coverage goes beyond linguistics to examine the history and politics of Spanish in the US, the relationship of language to Latinx identities, and how language ideologies and policies reflect and shape societal views of Spanish and its speakers.

Teaching Adult Immigrants with Limited Formal Education edited by Joy Kreeft Peyton and Martha Young-Scholten

This book aims to empower teachers working with adult migrants who have had little or no prior formal schooling, and give them the information and skills that they need to reach the highest possible levels of literacy in their new languages.

Essays on Conference Interpreting by James Nolan

This book, drawing on the author’s 30-year career, seeks to define what constitutes good interpreting and how to develop the skills and abilities that are conducive to it. It places interpretation in its historical context and examines the uses and limitations of modern technology for interpreting.

 

The Dynamics of Language and Inequality in Education edited by Joel Austin Windle, Dánie de Jesus and Lesley Bartlett

This book contributes new perspectives from the Global South on the ways in which linguistic and discursive boundaries shape inequalities in educational contexts, ranging from Amazonian missions to Mongolian universities, using critical ethnographic and sociolinguistic analyses.

The Emotional Rollercoaster of Language Teaching edited by Christina Gkonou, Jean-Marc Dewaele and Jim King

This book focuses on the emotional complexity of language teaching and how the diverse emotions that teachers experience are shaped and function. The book covers a range of emotion-related topics on both positive and negative emotions, including emotional labour, burnout, emotion regulation, resilience, emotional intelligence and wellbeing.

 

Seen something you like? All these titles are available to pre-order on our website and you can get 50% off this month when you enter the code JANSALE at the checkout!

A Month of Tourism Titles!

Woo-hoo! 2020 is kicking off with a month in which all the books we’re publishing are Channel View Publications titles – five tourism books published in January! This is the first time this has happened in CVP/MM history (we usually publish far more linguistics titles than we do tourism) so it’s very exciting 😊

Here are the books we’ve got coming your way this month:

Brexit and Tourism by Derek Hall

This book offers a multidisciplinary, holistic appraisal of the implications of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) for tourism and related mobilities. It attempts to look beyond the short- to medium-term consequences of these processes for both the UK and the EU.

Tourism Economics and Policy (2nd Edition) by Larry Dwyer, Peter Forsyth and Wayne Dwyer

This revised edition incorporates new material on the sharing economy, AI, surface and marine transport, resident quality of life issues, the price mechanism, the economic contribution of tourism, and tourism and economic growth. It remains an accessible text for students, researchers and practitioners in tourism economics and policy.

Contents Tourism and Pop Culture Fandom edited by Takayoshi Yamamura and Philip Seaton

The term ‘contents tourism’ has been defined as ‘travel behaviour motivated fully or partially by narratives, characters, locations, and other creative elements of popular culture…’. This is the first book to apply the concept of contents tourism in a global context and to establish an interdisciplinary framework for contents tourism research.

Modelling and Simulations for Tourism and Hospitality by Jacopo A. Baggio and Rodolfo Baggio

This book offers an essential introduction to the use of various modelling tools and simulation techniques in the domains of tourism and hospitality. It aims to encourage students, researchers and practitioners in tourism and hospitality to enhance and enrich their toolbox in order to achieve a better and more profound knowledge of their field.

Service Encounters in Tourism, Events and Hospitality by Miriam Firth

This book offers insights into the demands made on staff in service encounters in tourism, events and hospitality roles. It hinges upon storied incidents offered by workers about which the reader can reflect and apply theoretical knowledge. Each chapter includes learning objectives, questions and summaries.

 

Continuing the excitement, a brand new textbook follows in February – Sustainable Tourism by David Fennell and Chris Cooper, which we expect to be a bestseller. We are also hoping to get a few more titles published in the second half of 2020. Some titles to watch for are Archaeology and Tourism edited by Dallen Timothy and Lina Tahan; a second edition of Dallen Timothy’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism textbook; Tourism and Earthquakes edited by Michael Hall and Girish Prayag; Gamification for Tourism edited by Feifei Xu and Dimitrios Buhalis; Sustainable Space Tourism by Annette Toivonen and Wildlife Tourism Futures edited by Giovanna Bertella. Watch this space…

Sarah

Seen something you like? Get 50% off all our titles this month using the code JANSALE at the checkout on our website!

New Ways of Looking at Language Learning Motivation

This month we published Contemporary Language Motivation Theory: 60 Years Since Gardner and Lambert (1959) edited by Ali H. Al-Hoorie and Peter D. MacIntyre. In this post the editors explain how the idea for the book came about.

The idea behind this book was born during the second Psychology of Language Learning conference (PLL2) in Jyväskylä, Finland. At the conference, which took place in August 2016, Ali and Peter realized that the 60th anniversary of the seminal paper by Gardner and Lambert (1959) entitled “Motivational variables in second language acquisition” (Canadian Journal of Psychology, 13, 266-272) was on the horizon. That 1959 paper was brief, only seven pages in length, but it is one of the most influential papers in applied linguistics because it helped establish motivation as a valuable subject for study, on par with aptitude.

At the PLL2 conference we were able to approach several potential authors to invite them to join this project. To our delight, we received a favorable response from everyone we spoke with, and they encouraged us to go ahead with the project. People appreciate the impact that Robert Gardner, the Father of second language motivation, has had on our field.

While still at the conference, we also approached Laura at the Multilingual Matters desk to pitch this idea. As always, she offered all necessary assistance and encouragement to speed up the process and complete the paperwork and other preparations. The project was born!

Now, as the physical copy of the book comes into our hands, the project has reached a milestone. We hope that it will inspire new ways of looking at language learning motivation in the Gardner tradition. There seems to be a resurgence of interest in all things motivational just now, so perhaps this is coming at the best possible time to inspire new research with a strong connection to well-established theory, methods, and findings. That Gardner’s contribution to all three areas has been sustained over some 60 years is a notable achievement – worth celebrating, and worth continuing.

We think it is worth carrying on the work of looking at the social psychology of motivation for language learning, and the new book suggests a number of exciting new directions for those studies to take. Maybe we will need a 70th anniversary edition as well.

 

For more information about this book please see our website

If you found this interesting, you might also like Motivational Dynamics in Language Learning edited by Zoltán Dörnyei, Peter D. MacIntyre and Alastair Henry.

Travelling to Frankfurt Book Fair

The Frankfurt Book Fair is one of our most important events each year to promote our publications, meet with our bookselling and distribution contacts, learn about the future trends in publishing, and generally take the pulse of the industry for the next year. It is always an exhausting week, with back-to-back meetings set every 30 minutes for three days, and socialising and networking opportunities in the evenings.

With such a punishing schedule at the fair, we have always felt that we should make the travel as pleasant and as relaxing as possible, and so in recent years we have taken a scenic drive with an overnight ferry trip and lunch stops in the beautiful Rhine valley to enjoy. Following a car accident that left my car unusable just weeks before the fair this year, we were left with a decision to make. Should we fly to the fair? In the 22 years that I’ve been visiting the fair, I have only flown twice, and the memory of Frankfurt airport full of tens of thousands of book trade contacts trying to leave the city after the fair is firmly etched on my memory, so we decided to return to travelling by train. In the five years since I last travelled by train, connections and frequency of trains along the route have improved, and as such we were easily able to leave Bristol in the early morning, and with just one cross-London underground trip and a change of trains in Brussels, we arrived in Frankfurt by the mid-afternoon to set up our stand. During this time we were able to sit back and relax, eat at our seats in the train, and spread our work out and prepare for our meetings in a very civilised manner. We were even lucky enough to have our own compartment on the Brussels-Frankfurt leg of the journey, which felt very like a step back to the age of Agatha Christie. Thankfully though there were no mysteries to be solved!

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof

After three days of successful meetings at the fair, we again boarded the train at Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, and were able to write up all of our post-book fair reports during the first leg of the journey, before a quick lunch at Brussels Midi. The train connections worked seamlessly, and we were back in Bristol in time for dinner on the Saturday evening.

We may have saved a few hours had we travelled by air, but by taking the train we saved ourselves the trouble of first travelling to the airport, then the hassle of check-in, security, and then waiting in departures, before a cramped flight and another wait for bags. Coupled with the environmental benefit of travelling by train, it really wasn’t a difficult choice and it’s one that we will most likely choose to make again in the future!

Tommi

Ever wondered what the Frankfurt Book Fair is like? In 2017 Laura and Tommi filmed every aisle of every hall! You can watch the video here.

Tommi and Laura’s visit to Beijing

Following on from the conference in Shanghai (which you can read about in my blog post here), I flew up to Beijing, where I met Tommi. There, we spent a busy few days attending meetings arranged by our local Chinese sales reps, Ben, Annie and Monica of CPS. China is one of our biggest markets so it was a really valuable opportunity to meet with customers and learn more about the Chinese book market.

Laura, Annie and Tommi and CEPIEC's offices
Laura, Annie and Tommi and CEPIEC’s offices

Our two biggest customers in China are China National Publications Import & Export Group (CNPIEC) and China Educational Publishers Import & Export Corporation Ltd. (CEPIEC). Given how similar the two names are, I have always struggled to keep them separate in my head! But now, having visited their offices and spent time getting to know each company and some of its staff individually, I have a much clearer idea of these two major customers, how their businesses work and how ours interacts with them. At the meetings we discussed matters such as the book market in China in general, import of our books to China, their customers’ preferences (paperback, hardback or ebooks) and their ebook platforms, as well as our new books and catalogues, of course!

Lunch with Ben and Monica
Lunch with Ben and Monica

As well as visiting booksellers, we also visited the public library in Tianjin and Beijing International Studies University Library. There, we met with acquisitions staff and were introduced to the libraries, discussed the collections that they hold and how best to serve them with information about our forthcoming books. We also learned about library budgets and buying periods and how they make their book choices. These meetings provided us with useful insights into the needs and interests of our customers, as well as enjoyable visits to Chinese libraries…I was delighted to discover that libraries smell the same the world over, that wonderful smell of exciting books waiting to be read!

Laura