Small Yet International: Our Books Travel the World

14 December 2016

We describe ourselves as a small, international, independent academic publisher. Being small, it may seem like also being international would be very difficult. In fact, for us that’s certainly not the case. As you can read in previous blog posts, our authors come from right around the world. In fact since that post was written in 2011 the list of countries our authors come from has continued to grow and in this year alone we have published books based on research in countries and regions as diverse as the Arctic, Bosnia and China (and could probably make a good stab at completing the rest of the alphabet too!).

We travel a lot and ensure that our books are seen by people all over the world. Our conference and travel schedules are always packed and we make an effort to attend not only big conferences but also smaller, local ones where we can. We do our best to make our books both accessible and affordable to anyone interested in them and this is reflected in our sales figures. We thought it might be interesting to share information about the international reach of our print books with our blog readers.

Last year, our books made it straight from our warehouse to 74 countries of the world, and possibly even more as we cannot trace what happens to books which go through our two biggest UK customers, the wholesalers Gardners and Bertrams. Because of the size of these wholesalers the top 10 countries list is a little skewed as we know that, while the UK is at the top, this is not because our books are being picked up by many readers in Britain but rather, they are being sold on to bookshops around the globe. The same goes for our North American sales, but to a slightly lesser extent. With that in mind, this chart shows the top ten countries, in terms of the number of individual books bought from us over the past 12 months.

Top 10 countries (units sold)

Top 10 countries (units sold)

In part this list reflects the hard work of our reps who promote our titles to their local customers. We have reps working in our bigger markets, such as China and Japan, as well as covering smaller nations such as those of the Caribbean. We meet with our reps at least annually at the Frankfurt Book Fair and make occasional visits to see them in their territories. You can read more about the work of our reps in a post written by Andrew White who represents us in Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan.

For customers for whom a print book is too expensive or difficult to obtain, we ensure that the option of purchasing an ebook is a possibility. All our new titles are published simultaneously as consumer ebooks and always at a much lower price. We have put a big effort into making our back catalogue also available as ebooks and are always happy to take requests if there is something that a reader wants that isn’t yet online – just send us an email and we’ll do our best to arrange it.

Laura


Brexit and its Implications for Channel View Publications & Multilingual Matters

29 September 2016

Since the UK referendum result to leave the European Union, I have often been asked what effect this will have on our business. These questions have come from authors, colleagues, interested friends and my mother. The honest answer to all has been “I really do not know”.

To a very large extent, this is the biggest issue with Brexit for any business. “Brexit means Brexit” is the often-quoted line from government, but the reality is that we are none the wiser now than we were during the campaign.

In the short term, Brexit has provided a very timely and much-needed boost to our income. The fall in the value of sterling has meant that our books now appear cheaper in many currencies, and we have seen a rise in orders from many countries, including Japan and China. Where we price in other currencies like the US Dollar, our sales have been worth more to us. In a time of tight budgets in higher education institutions around the world, this has been welcome.

Tommi celebrating his Finnish nationality

A proud European citizen

On the other hand, any fall in the price of sterling will most likely lead to inflationary pressures in the UK economy at some stage, and whilst we might currently enjoy a small boost in our income, we may ultimately be hit with higher office rents, higher salary bills, higher paper and printing costs, and higher cost of supply. There is no doubt that any reintroduction of customs borders between the UK and the rest of Europe will have something of an administrative cost to us.

We have heard many anecdotal tales about UK researchers and UK institutions having joint projects with European colleagues put on hold until any funding situation has been confirmed. This is of course a concern to us as many of our books arise from such European cross-border projects. Equally if it is harder for overseas students to come to the UK to study, how will this impact our institutions?

On a personal level, I am a Finnish-English dual national. Since Finland joined the EU in the 1990s, I have happily been able to travel between the UK and Finland, my two home countries, without any concern. My friends and family from both countries have had the same rights in either one, and I have thought of myself as much European as Finnish or British. I spend significant amounts of time in both countries, and I will be very interested to see whether any exit from the European Union would complicate this for me.

Ultimately, we just do not know. Until the actual process and terms of Brexit are negotiated, we can only guess as to what the outcomes might be, and for a small business that needs to make staffing and investment decisions, this uncertainty can be very daunting. The current government is not doing anything to help make this situation clearer. With such friends as Dr Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, calling British businesses fat, lazy and more interested in playing golf than exporting, I am not sure we need any enemies. All I can say to Dr Fox is that we have certainly exported more books to the world than he has over-claimed money in parliamentary expenses.

Putting aside all this uncertainty, we are in the fortunate position of not having any external debt or shareholders pressuring us to make decisions, and our market has always been a global market, so we are well-placed to continue to trade globally, and I am certain that we will be able to overcome any obstacles and take advantage of any benefits of Brexit once the process has been decided.

Tommi


We’re Winners of an Award for Excellence!

21 September 2016
Elinor and Laura celebrating our achievement

Elinor and Laura celebrating our achievement

We are delighted to announce that we have recently been awarded with a BIC Product Data Excellence Award. This is a book publishing industry award that denotes how well we submit information about our books to the book trade. Publishers are scored both on how complete their data is and the timeliness of its delivery to the industry.

While it may not seem like the most exciting of awards, it is actually very important. With good information book buyers find it much easier to discover and order books, which makes their job quicker and results in more book sales and greater reach for our authors’ work. The data required is extensive and ranges from the very obvious, such as title and price, to information such as the exact weight of an individual book.

We have spent many of our spare moments and long afternoons over the past year manually entering the data for very old titles into our database (and even doing things such as weighing books from the archive!), while also ensuring that all new titles meet very tight data deadlines. It has been a long and arduous process, fuelled by lots of tea and biscuits, but we are very happy that 99.93% of our books now have complete records (the missing 0.07% are sadly so old we don’t even have a print copy in our office archive) and we always easily hit the 80% timeliness quota.

There are over 750 publishers in the UK, so to be one of only 29 with an Excellence Award, and to be in the same category as household names such as Penguin is very satisfying (you can see the full list of publishers with awards here). We may only be a small publisher but we are proud to be ranked for data as highly as many big publishers and even better than many others. Needless to say, our ambitions haven’t stopped with Excellence and we’re already in discussions about what we can do to be promoted to the Excellence Plus top category!


The Life of a Book – Post-production!

27 May 2016
Laura showing off some newly arrived books

Laura showing off some newly arrived books

Arguably the most exciting days in our office are the days when new books arrive. We love receiving such packages from the printer and having the final product in our hands, and we’re sure that our authors feel a sense of joy and achievement on receiving their copies. To some, this is seen as the end of a journey – the editorial and production work has been successfully completed and the job of publishing the work is done. But as a publisher, we’d be pretty useless if we saw this as the time to stop working with a book. In fact, for us in the marketing department, this is our moment to shine!

Elinor and I will have been busy in the run-up to publication setting things up ready for the book’s publication. This means that we will already have let all our distributors, wholesalers and sales reps know that the book is on its way; we will have ensured that the book has a complete listing on our website; and we will have provided the author with marketing materials, such as information sheets and discount flyers for them to give to any interested potential readers.

The ground has then been properly laid for us to start the immediate marketing of a book on publication. We announce that the work has been published to as many people as possible. We inform all industry members, such as wholesalers and sales reps, that the work is now available for their customers and try and reach as many customers as possible directly. This might be done by posting on listservs, such as Linguist List (Multilingual Matters titles) and Trinet (Channel View Publications titles), sending a newsletter to our email subscribers, sharing the news with our Facebook and Twitter followers and informing journal book reviews editors and authors of related blogs, for example.

All our new books are available simultaneously as print and ebooks, so there is also work to be done to get news of the ebook out. Sarah, our production manager, ensures that the book is available to purchase on a variety of platforms, and we ensure that it is also available on our own website. At this stage we also start to send out inspection/desk copies to those who have requested one from our website and we give the option of an ebook rather than a print copy. This means that course leaders get the text immediately and can start considering it for adoption on a course much quicker than the traditional way.

Anna and Tommi promoting our books at AAAL earlier this year

Anna and Tommi promoting our books at the AAAL conference earlier this year

Once the initial marketing has been completed and the buzz may have quietened down, we continue to publicise the work through other avenues. Common ways of doing so are through our catalogue mailings, and additional flyers and materials we produce for our sales reps, series editors and authors to distribute. We also attend many conferences throughout the year and always have lots of our recent and relevant titles with us on display. On occasions when we can’t attend an event in person we frequently send display copies and discount order forms to continue to make potential readers aware of our books.

When a book reaches 6 months old we review its progress at an editorial meeting. We look at the sales figures and discuss how its early sales are looking. This is a useful stage to review a title as it is still young enough to be of interest to booksellers and so we give a title a marketing boost if we feel that we may have missed an opportunity. This is the time when we start to see the very first reviews of a book appear in journals and these continue to appear over the course of the next few years.

On a book’s first birthday we again review its progress and might even start to think about reprinting copies of the work if it has been particularly successful. We monitor our stock levels each month so we try and ensure that we are on top of demand and that a book is always available, but occasionally we’ll receive an unexpected order, perhaps if it is suddenly adopted for a course and we receive a bulk order from a university bookshop preparing for the start of a semester.

Chinese translations of several books from our Languages for Intercultural Communication and Education series

Chinese translations of several books from our Languages for Intercultural Communication and Education series

We continue to monitor sales annually and promote the book when appropriate for as long as there is demand for it – often for many years after publication. Occasionally a book will receive additional attention, such as from a foreign publisher wishing to buy the rights to translate it into a foreign language. This is a really exciting time and such news is always greeted enthusiastically both in our office and by an author who is usually chuffed to hear that their work is to be translated and published for a new audience. We have recently sold our books for publication into languages such as Japanese, Chinese, Bahasa Melayu, Arabic, Korean, Macedonian and Greek. Of course at this point, the book gets a second lease of life and it’s down to the foreign publisher to repeat the life cycle of a book as outlined in this post!

Laura


Meet the rep: Andrew White, The White Partnership

1 December 2015

We have a global network of reps in overseas territories who promote our books in areas that we are not often able to travel to ourselves. In this post we hear from Andrew White from The White Partnership who represents us in Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan.

Andrew White at a sales meeting in Vietnam

Andrew White at a sales meeting in Vietnam

I have always liked travelling. My first 6 years after university were spent in tourism, as a “tour escort” on bus tours around Europe. But 1991 was a bad year for tourism, the first Gulf War broke out and there was very little work. So I got a job as a “freelance publishing agent’s representative”. I didn’t know what the job entailed when I applied, but it promised 20 weeks per year of European travel. In 1997 I became international sales manager for Edward Arnold, the medical/academic division of Hodder Headline. The majority of my time was spent visiting customers in India and in Asian countries. (I was excited to get the job and have the prospect of visiting new places!)

In 2003 I quit and went freelance myself, setting up The White Partnership, an agency for UK and US publishers, selling to the same customers in Indian and Asian markets I had got to know in the previous 6 years. Twelve years later, and I am still doing it, still enjoying it, and hopefully will continue to do so for many more years.

My earliest portfolio of clients contained only a few medical or STM (Scientific, Technical and Medical) publishers. But over the years I have taken on a wider range of publishers, trade lists, fiction, business books, schools and children’s books. As an agent I cannot limit myself to only one discipline. There are not enough independent publishers left to have the luxury of being a subject specialist. After all, if I am visiting a large bookstore chain like Kinokuniya or National Bookstore, then I may as well try to sell as many products as possible. If I don’t sell anything I don’t get paid.

Most freelance agents follow a set travel cycle, whether they are covering Europe, Africa, the Middle East or Indian/Asian markets. My own schedule normally requires at least 5 big trips a year: Jan or Feb: Delhi/Colombo, March: Hong Kong/Manila/Taipei, (April: London Book Fair), June or July: Delhi/Colombo again, August or September: Seoul/Tokyo, (October: Frankfurt Book Fair), November: Singapore/Kuala Lumpur/Bangkok. I now also add on Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City. So in total I visit around 10 Asian cities a year, plus Delhi and Colombo. In the past I have visited other Indian cities, especially Mumbai, but Delhi is the publishing and importing hub. I also sell to accounts in Pakistan, but haven’t visited for a number of years now. I used to do so when it was safer. Now I see the booksellers in person at the bookfairs in Delhi, London and Frankfurt and maintain a constant relationship with them via email, text or phone, which is still their preferred medium.

In effect, I am the middle man between the publisher and the customer. It’s my job to present new titles that will be sellable in that particular country, and at a price low enough to be affordable for the customer, but high enough for the publisher to make the sale worthwhile. With the exception of Japan, all the countries I sell to require a big discount off the RRP, because the freight costs to import books thousands of miles are high, and the end customer’s purchasing power in India and Asia is much lower than that of a customer in the Western world. In many countries the end price of an academic text book has to be low enough to persuade a customer to actually buy it and not simply photocopy his friend’s book.

The publishers I work for are all SMEs, without their own office in territory. I have to present new titles, explain why they should be bought (important subject/famous author/great reviews/local interest etc), explain where the books will be distributed and invoiced from, (an importer will always want to do business with established suppliers, it is extra work to import books from a new distributor), agree the terms, and then wait for the official PO (purchase order) to be sent. Gone are the days when I can leave a meeting with orders in my hand. In the 21st century it is all done electronically.

For academic publishers their books are most likely to be bought by an institution, not an individual. The books don’t spend time on sale on a shelf in a bookstore. The librarians, lecturers and heads of department want newly published titles. Once the publication date of a book is more than 2 years old, then it is no longer attractive. Therefore up-to-date information flow into the market is essential, whether through hard copy catalogues or through excel listings.

The White Partnership has enjoyed success thanks to a number of factors. Most important is that I visit my accounts regularly, and therefore keep my publishers fresh in the minds of the importers. Secondly, I provide good new title information, ensuring that catalogues are received and looked at by both bookshops and institutional buyers. Thirdly, and also very importantly, I provide a good service to customers, processing orders, helping out with delivery and invoice issues and assisting with their title queries. If I were to ignore an enquiry from a customer, then he would no longer bother to order books from my publishers. And he would be right to do so…….the customer always is! Lastly, the terms of sale have to be acceptable. Even my best customers whom I’ve known for 20 years or so won’t buy unless they get enough discount to cover their overheads and still make a margin.

I enjoy my work, of course. It’s always a buzz seeing the sights and sniffing the smells of exotic cities! Books are a product, just like baked beans or washing machines, so I have to make sure I sell enough of them to make a living, but the publishing industry is by its nature an interesting “intellectual” business, so there is always something new to be involved with and to sell.

For more information about Andrew’s work please feel free to contact him at andrew@thewhitepartnership.org.uk.


A-Z of Publishing: U is for…

5 October 2015

U is for UTP DistributionU is for UTP Distribution. UTP Distribution is the name of our North American distributor. If you have ever bought a book from us at a US conference or purchased a book from our website with US shipping then they will have dealt with your order. They have warehouses in both Toronto, Canada and New York State, USA to ensure swift delivery of our books to our Canadian and American customers.

This post is part of our ‘A-Z of Publishing’ series which we will be posting every Monday throughout the rest of 2015. You can search the blog for the rest of the series or subscribe to the blog to receive an email as soon as the next post is published by using the links on the right of the page.


A-Z of Publishing: M is for…

10 August 2015

M is for Marston Book ServicesM is for Marston Book Services. Marston Book Services is one of our two book distributors. In their warehouse in Abingdon, near Oxford, UK they hold a huge amount of our stock – numbers range from well over a thousand copies of our bestselling book Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism to a single copy of several very old titles. Any customer buying books for shipment to the UK, Europe or the Rest of the World (excluding North America) will receive their copy and invoice from this distributor.

This post is part of our ‘A-Z of Publishing’ series which we will be posting every Monday throughout the rest of 2015. You can search the blog for the rest of the series or subscribe to the blog to receive an email as soon as the next post is published by using the links on the right of the page.


A-Z of Publishing: K is for…

27 July 2015

K is for KoreaK is for Korea. Korea is one of several countries where we have a local representative. For customers living in Korea, China, India, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean we have representatives in place who are able to source our books for customers in these territories. We hope that this international distribution network ensures that our customers receive their books as quickly as possible. For full contact information please see the distribution page on our website here.

 

This post is part of our ‘A-Z of Publishing’ series which we will be posting every Monday throughout the rest of 2015. You can search the blog for the rest of the series or subscribe to the blog to receive an email as soon as the next post is published by using the links on the right of the page.


New ebook initiative!

17 June 2014

We have recently launched our latest ebook initiative, which aims to give customers greater flexibility in terms of where and how they can read our books.  Tucked inside the paperback copy of each of the books involved in the trial is a special bookmark.  This bookmark has a code printed on it which, when redeemed in the ebook section of our website, enables the owner of the paperback to buy a copy of the ebook at a fraction of its usual price – the discount is 80 or 90%!

Bookmarks

Bookmarks

The idea behind this initiative is that many of our readers have told us that they much prefer a printed copy of the book for everyday use.  However, sometimes, perhaps when away at a conference, our readers desperately want to quickly check something in a book, which they know they have on their bookshelf at home but didn’t bring with them. We are hoping that this will really help out in such instances by enabling cheap access to an already owned book from anywhere in the world.

The books involved in the trial are:

So look out for a special bookmark if you buy a copy of these paperbacks and do let us know if you think this is a good idea.  If it is successful we may well roll it out onto all our paperbacks in the future – watch this space!


Frankfurt Book Fair 2013

30 October 2013
Sarah, Laura and Tommi on the ferry to the Netherlands

Sarah, Laura and Tommi on the ferry to the Netherlands

For many people in the book trade, October is almost synonymous with the Frankfurt Book Fair and it is no different for Channel View/Multilingual Matters.  For us, the only change this year was that Tommi, Sarah and I decided that we would drive to the fair as we wanted to see some of Europe, rather than fly straight to Germany as usual.  On our way to Germany we visited the site of the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium and had lunch in Luxembourg City before finally arriving in Boppard, a small town approximately 75 miles west of Frankfurt where we stayed a couple of nights.

The view towards the Moselle from our hike

The view towards the Moselle from our hike

We spent a day hiking in the hills between the Moselle and Rhine Valleys which was beautiful, especially as the trees were just beginning to change colour.  We walked about 12 miles and although Tommi had sensibly chosen paths that were mainly downhill (!) Sarah and I were still extremely tired afterwards – perhaps not the best preparation for a busy week of work!  It took a traditional German dinner, good night’s sleep and excellent breakfast before we’d recovered enough to drive across to Frankfurt where we met Elinor ready for the start of the book fair.

Laura, Elinor and Sarah having lunch at the Frankfurt Book Fair

Laura, Elinor and Sarah having lunch at the Frankfurt Book Fair

The fair provides us with an annual opportunity to meet and discuss business with others working in the industry.  Tommi and Elinor meet with our sales reps who sell our books in less directly accessible markets, such as India, China, Japan and Southeast Asia and distributors and wholesalers who make sure that our books get to our customers, and that our customers know of our books.  Sarah meets with those involved in the production side of the industry, such as printers and typesetters, as well as an increasing number of people working on digital projects who she may collaborate with on ebooks and related matter.  Finally, I meet with representatives from foreign publishing houses who are interested in buying the translation rights to our titles for publication in languages other than English.

In between meetings we nibbled our usual selection of German snacks (we’re big fans of Rittersport and Gummi bears) and made the most of the sausages and schnitzel available for lunch!  We spent the evenings sampling yet more traditional German food and we enjoyed the annual drinks reception held by the Independent Publishers Guild, which we are members of.  As ever, we made the most of the opportunities that the fair offers us to meet colleagues from around the world; talk about what’s happening in the industry and discuss future projects and partnerships.  We have all made it safely back to the office and it won’t be long before it’s time to think about next year’s trip!

Laura


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