Summer 2022

Autumn seems to have well and truly set in here in Bristol, but in this blog post we have one last look back at the summer and what we all got up to…

Laura

We went to Cornwall early in the summer and really enjoyed walking some of the stunning coast path. Even more so, we enjoyed delicious Cornish cream teas with scones, clotted cream and jam. My daughter was definitely much heavier to carry toward the end of the holiday!

 

Anna

We had a very lazy fortnight in Kefalonia, reading books, swimming in the sea and eating and drinking!

 

 

 

Rosie

Most of my summer was spent moving house and looking after adorable new kittens, but I managed a trip to Wales in May – finally rescheduled from March 2020! I also enjoyed a perfectly timed long weekend visiting family near Fort William. The weather was outstanding, so we made the most of it with trips to Arisaig and Mallaig, before cooling off with a dip in Loch Ness (pictured here without the usual drizzle).

 

Flo

It feels a long time ago now, but I went abroad for the first time in two and a half years in June for a little road trip around western France. We took the Eurostar to Paris, then headed to Versailles, the Loire Valley, Bordeaux and Hossegor, a famous surfing spot. This is a picture of me on the Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe!

Tommi

Sara and I flew to Durham, North Carolina to visit my brother and his family. We spent a lovely long weekend with Sami, Jenni, Lilia and Adeline. After a few years of not being able to see each other it was just special to spend time together. Sara and I then visited Boston, New York and the Blue Mountains together, highlights being the Theatre of Electricity at Boston’s Museum of Science, Visiting the Dog Pond in prospect park to see all the dogs playing in the water, and some hiking at Chimney Rock, the Hickory Nut Falls and the Wild Cat Overlook in Hickory Nut Gorge. Finally we returned to Durham for another weekend with our lovely nieces and spent many happy hours eating delicious food, splashing about in the warm Eno river and exploring the Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail. Although it sometimes seems sad to live so far away from my nieces, who are growing up really fast, the distance means that when we do get together it’s really special!

Rose

I enjoyed a couple of child-free breakfasts and pre-dinner Cavas on the terrace during my family holiday in Majorca, followed by lots of sea cave-exploring and rock-pooling while Youth Hostelling on the Pembrokeshire coast.

 

 

 

Stanzi

I had a fantastic time in the Lake District and at Glastonbury – Paul McCartney was incredible! I also got to enjoy lots of wild swimming and my birthday which, somehow, stretched into a week of cakes, dinners and daytrips.

 

 

 

Elinor

I had a very busy summer fitting several trips into the school holidays but the highlight had to be a trip to France with family. It was the first time I’d been abroad for several years and it was lovely to spend time with lots of family. The children loved the ferry, the swimming pool and croissants for breakfast every day!

Sarah

As I’m lucky to live in a seaside town there doesn’t seem to be a pressing need for a summer holiday! So my photo is from a mini-break in Ireland post-ATLAS conference. I stayed with my friends in Broadford, County Clare and had a fun day out at Bunratty Castle – a great place to pretend that you’re living hundreds of years ago!

Welcome Back Laura!

We recently welcomed Laura back from her year of maternity leave, in which she’s been very busy not only looking after her baby, Elizabeth, but also getting married! Here’s a little insight into her time away and her feelings about returning to work.

How has your year of maternity leave been?

It’s quite hard to sum up a year in a few lines! I feel very fortunate to have had a year to spend with our daughter, Elizabeth, especially as I know that many parents the world over don’t have that luxury. However, I would be lying if I said that there weren’t many times when I was desperate for my old life back. Getting used to our ‘new normal’ has been a long journey!

How does it feel coming back to work after a year away?

Wonderful! Especially coming into the office having spent the year before that working from home because of Covid. I think that it does me the world of good to cycle to work each day, to have the stimulation of the city and to spend the working day in a different environment. Work itself is challenging – I seem to be unable to retain any recent information yet can still recall things from several years ago. It’s as though I’m stuck in a strange mental time-warp…useful occasionally (like when someone wants to know the ISBN of a book published in 2011!), but most of the time I am very reliant on my notepad!

What have you missed and what are you looking forward to most about being back at work?

I have missed my colleagues and the wider circle of work contacts enormously. It is nice to have conversations again that aren’t either with or about Elizabeth! I’m looking forward to getting stuck into using the new reporting systems we’ll be using for sales and being back in touch with all my old contacts. I’m returning under a new name, so it’s very handy to have a good cover-up when I’ve forgotten something I ought to know!

What will you miss about maternity leave?

My husband works shifts so it was fantastic to have a year of not working Mon-Fri, 9-5 (even if I was in fact working 24/7!) as it meant that when he was off on a random day, I was usually at home too. It was nice to be able to do things when most people were working. We’re going to have to get used to juggling all our commitments and making sure that there are at least a few days a year when we’re all at home together!

Meet the Newest Member of our Team – Stanzi!

Stanzi is our newest member of staff and has been working with Sarah as a Production Assistant since November, so we thought it was time our readers got to know her better with a little Q&A!

What were you doing before you joined us?

I was managing the Amazon seller and vendor accounts for a company that sells tools and workwear – very different field!

What made you apply for the job?

I was eager to do a job that actually made use of my degree. And I love books so helping to get them out there really appealed. I’ve always been curious about publishing. Plus it annoys me when I see a typo in a book – and now I get to be the one who left it there!

What were your first impressions?

That the company and the people are absolutely lovely, like a work-family. And that there’s a lot – and I mean a lot – of eating and talking about food.

Do you prefer ebooks or print books? 

I fluctuate. I prefer reading printed books but at a certain point, owning so many books just isn’t practical. I can walk around with hundreds of books on my phone and access them at any second if I have a sudden craving to read, like having a library in your pocket.

What are you reading at the moment?

At the moment, I’m reading The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley and a graphic novel called Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe.

Do you have a favourite book?

Several! I have a bookshelf of favourites. But my all time standouts are probably Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, Syrup by Maxx Barry, Austen’s Persuasion and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

What do you like to do when you’re not in the office?

I’m a big fan of going on walks. I also enjoy painting and am a bit of a film fanatic. And of course, I can’t forget the pub trips with friends.

We’re really glad that Stanzi has joined us and she already feels like part of the CVP family!

What Does a Publisher Actually Do?

Nowadays, when publishing is easier than ever, why do you need a publisher? Why not just put your manuscript online, especially if it is Open Access (OA)? In this blog post, our Managing Director Tommi Grover shares the views of an independent international publisher. He brings out how diverse the professional expertise – from editorial, administrative and production to marketing and sales – required to publish a book are. He also looks at the costs of publishing in both open access and traditional publishing.

Publishing has never been easier and more accessible to all. There is very little to stop you from taking your own manuscript, putting it through a simple desktop publishing program, and publishing it online. Many platforms will even walk you through the process of producing a printed version that you can make available for sale.

So why do publishing companies still exist and thrive? How is it fair that we charge universities to buy books that come from publicly funded research?

What you are paying for is a range of professional expertise

Editorial expertise

L-R: Sarah, Tommi, Elinor, Laura, Anna, Flo and Rose

Initially, you are getting the expertise of our editorial staff. Whether it’s Anna, Laura, Sarah or Rosie that you are dealing with, they will spend several years working with first your ideas, then your book proposal, and eventually your draft and final manuscripts. They will commission reviews from your academic colleagues – we are the first to acknowledge that these review payments are little more than a token of appreciation rather than a full remuneration for the time spent. They will discuss and approve the final manuscript with academic series editors – we pay for their expertise too. Anna, Laura, Sarah and Rosie will not allow your manuscript to go into production until they are satisfied that it is as good as it can be. We do not get paid more when a manuscript is delayed, but a scrupulous academic publisher would never rush a book through in order to get paid. Future readers of your book know that your book has been carefully reviewed and edited, and that our imprint can be trusted for quality publications in your field of knowledge.

Administrative expertise

Throughout this process and further, Rose will be keeping everything on track. She makes sure that your project is where it should be, with the appropriate documentation, permissions, manuscript and graphics files, author questionnaires and contracts. She makes sure that an ISBN is registered for each version of the book – without which sales will be difficult.

Production expertise

Sarah then takes over to see the book through its production processes. She will engage the services of freelance copyeditors and typesetters like Ralph or Mythili, and will personally look over every page of your manuscript looking for errors and corrections that need to be made. Sarah will liaise with the appropriate printer for the type of book, whether that is a digital printer or an offset printer, Sarah will know what is appropriate for each project.

Sarah will work with Flo in our marketing department who will choose an appropriate cover image and cover design created by our freelance partners Latte, Dave or Julie. You might ask why a cover design is still important in an ebook or open access world? If you want your work to be noticed and read, you cannot rely on citations alone – a cover that will get your book noticed, whether it is on a webpage, blog post, conference stand or bookshop shelf, is one of the first steps to being seen. If the cover looks shoddy, what does that say about the likely content?

Marketing expertise

Well before the beautiful book has been realised, Elinor will already be working on the marketing plan to ensure that the title information is fed out to all of our distribution and sales partners, and that metadata is kept accurate and complete. Elinor and Flo will produce PDF catalogues and keep our website running so that the books can be found in all the venues you might expect to find them. Elinor and Flo will negotiate with organisations who might ask for sponsorship funds to help them deliver a world class conference, and to arrange opportunities for your work to be seen by delegates. During COVID when there were no conference opportunities, they immediately started working on organising our own seminars, webinars, and online discussion forums so that authors would not lose out on opportunities to promote their work. They will work on social media campaigns for your book, and they will aim to promote your research in general, regardless of whether this might directly lead to a sale.

Sales expertise

Laura will oversee the distribution of your book, and ensure that there are always copies in the warehouse ready for sale, and that our sales reps and booksellers, whether they are in London, Tokyo, Cape Town, Islamabad, New York or Sydney are aware of our books and know how to get hold of them. Over the years we have developed a wide network of contacts who all work together to get your book to end users around the world. We’ll work with our library ebook partners DeGruyter, ProQuest and EBSCO among others, and with Zenodo and DeGruyter to deliver our open access publications.

Rights and permissions

Laura will also work with many international publishers who might express an interest in publishing your work in a language other than English. She’ll ensure that the translation rights are paid for and that you receive a copy of the book in every language that it’s published in. With open access materials it is important to know the implications of what license you are publishing the work under. We can help you with questions about what you allow other people to do with your work. It is your work, and you should always have a say in what can be done with it.

Backroom infrastructure

And behind all of these actions there is an infrastructure that needs paying for: an office building that needs heat, light and communications; authors’ and series editors’ royalties to be paid; and systems to be maintained so that we know what stage any project is at.

What are the real costs?

Plant costs

The typesetting, printing, cover design and direct costs relating to a book are easy to quantify. Typesetting is dependent on page extent and complexity, but most of our books can be professionally typeset for somewhere between about £800 and £3000. Cover designs often cost between £125 and £250 for a reasonably simple design, but can be more if the design needs to be unique. If you search online picture libraries you’ll be able to see that the cost of images varies dramatically by image, especially if you want the exclusive rights to it to ensure that two competing books don’t get the same book cover!

Print costs

Print costs used to be complicated but with digital printing even very short runs of books are now viable so whilst the printed product is the most tangible evidence of a process that costs money, those costs are nowadays negligible when compared with the staff time involved.

Distribution costs

Distribution costs are paid by way of percentage discounts and fees – whether print or library format ebooks, we pay a percentage of our income to the intermediaries.

Open access vs traditional costs

Open access publications do not need to pay the same distribution or print costs, but do require the same investment in typesetting and design, and a responsible open access publisher will spend at least as much on the editorial process – we do not distinguish between OA and traditional model in our editorial process.

Authors and editors payments

With the traditional model of publishing we pay our authors a royalty. This usually starts at 4% for the early copies of an academic monograph, doubling to 8% when the book will have broken even. If we know that an author has a track record of very strong sales, we’ll pay a higher royalty, and for textbooks we usually pay 12%. Authors are paid 50% of any income for subsidiary rights such as translations. We pay our series editors 4–5% of all sales income for their expertise. For an open access book we would pay the series editor a fee.

Editorial costs

All of our staff are based in the UK, and we pay them a fair salary. We’ve always believed that treating our staff well means that we recruit and retain great employees, so if you’ve published with us in the past 15-20 years, it’s likely that you’ll have dealt with the same people for all of that time. Allocating these costs to an individual title fairly is difficult. You could allocate by time, complexity, average cost, share of income for example. There isn’t a single “right” method!

Profit!

So what happens to the profit? When we make a profit on an individual title, most of this money is put back into publishing future books. The company is owned by my family, and my colleagues, and we all believe in the books we are publishing. We are not running a charity, so when we are able to, we distribute small amounts of this profit to our shareholders. But neither do we have the backing of a large university so each profitable book secures future publications that little bit more. To give you a sense of scale, I can say that we pay approximately £90,000 each year in royalties to authors, whereas in the past decade we have only paid £5000 to shareholders in dividends. This is as it should be – we earn a fair salary for the work we do, and profits are only paid out when really do have surplus.

In summary

We treat each book project individually. Whether you publish with us the traditional way where we pay for everything up front, and recoup the costs from book sales, or whether it’s an open access publication where we require payment for our services on publication of the title, we will make sure that we price your book fairly, based on the size and complexity of the work. When we receive OA funding for a chapter in a book, we’ll reduce the selling price of both the library ebook version and the printed book to reflect that some of the material is available open access. For example our title Pedagogical Translanguaging edited by Päivi Juvonen and Marie Källkvist had four out of 12 chapters published open access – and so we reduced the selling price of all the editions substantially. We have to continue to be viable, so we are evolving these policies as we get more experienced – but we are committed to always being fair.

Whether open access or traditional model publishing is better for the end reader is really a matter for someone else to decide. There are obvious advantages of online accessibility for anyone with a suitable internet connection. Open access has many advantages for a small independent publisher in that it removes our financial risk. But it still costs money to do everything to a high standard, in a friendly and professional manner. And in fields with very little funding for research projects, let alone to pay for a publication, the traditional model allows authors with no funding at all to publish their work.

So what do you get when you work with a publisher? Quite a lot, in my humble opinion!

If you’d like to discuss publishing with us, please email us at info@channelviewpublications.com

This post was originally published on the University of Helsinki’s blog.

Welcoming Rosie to the CVP Team

We recently welcomed Rosie to the team, who is commissioning editor while Laura is on maternity leave. In this post we find out a bit more about her…

What were you doing before you joined us?

I came here from Routledge, where I was working as an Editorial Assistant on their Language Learning list. Before that, I studied Applied Linguistics and taught English as a Second Language in New York, so I’m not sure there’s any doubt about my favourite subject!

What made you apply for the job?

I have always loved working with language and linguistics, and it only took a glance at the catalogue to be convinced this was the place for me! I really liked the idea of working for a smaller publisher too, as it gives you the chance to get to know different aspects of the publishing process.

What were your first impressions?

I think the first thing that struck me was how well everyone knew each other. Not only within the team, but series editors and authors too, it really is a CVP family. Everyone was immediately very welcoming, which isn’t so easy over email and Zoom! One thing I love about working in this subject area is seeing the names of my old lecturers crop up as authors or reviewers, and there have been a few already!

Do you prefer ebooks or print books? What are you reading at the moment?

I still prefer print but I do have a Kindle which I would load up when travelling to save space. I just started ‘The Goldfinch’ and I am absolutely loving it (though at 800+ pages it definitely would have been easier to carry around on kindle). I always have a non-fiction book on the go at the same time, and this year I’ve been reading ‘On This Day in History’. I read a page each morning with my first cup of tea, and it’s nice to know that on 31st December I can add one more to my Goodreads reading challenge, just in time!

Do you have a favourite book?

I would struggle to pick a favourite each year! One I keep recommending to people is ‘To Be Taught, If Fortunate’ by Becky Chambers. I’m not usually a sci-fi reader, but this is definitely one of the best books I’ve read in the last few years. The concepts are clever, the characters well-rounded, and it’s just so beautifully rich for such a short book.

What do you like to do when you’re not in the office?

I recently moved back to Scotland after six years away, so I’ve been enjoying visiting family and friends at the weekends, and I’m looking forward to a lot more hillwalking in the spring. I play piano, love to bake, and at the moment I’m learning Italian through a combination of podcasts, books, Duolingo, and a carefully curated playlist of Italian Disney songs!

Christmas 2020

As a strange and difficult year draws to a close, the CVP/MM team are trying to think positive by reflecting on what they’re most looking forward to this Christmas.

Tommi

This year Christmas will no doubt feel very different to normal in many ways, but for me the most important part of Christmas will not have changed. Our family has always celebrated Christmas eve with a sauna and a nice meal of typical Finnish Christmas foods, and spending the evening quietly and peacefully together with those closest to us. It’s a really lovely opportunity to slow down for a while and just be together with no distractions.

 

Rose

Despite, or perhaps because of, the challenges 2020 has brought, I am particularly looking forward to Christmas. It will be a time to stop and take stock, and really appreciate what we have managed to achieve… primarily buying and moving into our first family home (and all during a lockdown!). As an Army family, we have moved A LOT, so, this year, watching our children hanging their stockings in the fireplace, choosing the perfect spot for the tree and decorating their bedrooms feels even more special, knowing this is the first of many Merry Christmases in our own home.

 

Flo

I’m usually fairly militant about Christmas and its traditions – everything has to be the same as it’s always been. So it’s strangely freeing this year to just accept that it’s not going to be! Roast dinner is my absolute favourite meal so I’m looking forward to a really good one after weeks (maybe even months) without. Otherwise it’ll just be lovely to spend a couple of days with my family (inside – how novel!) and see the back of 2020…

 

Sarah

I am looking forward to spending my Christmas matching my decorations to those on telly! Not really (but for all those non-His Dark Materials fans this is Hester the hare meeting Hester the daemon hare, such is lockdown entertainment) – I am most grateful and thankful that my family and friends are healthy and happy this Christmas. And I’m always very excited about turkey and bread sauce sandwiches – bring on all the Christmas food! 🎄✨🍗

 

Anna

As with everything this year, my Christmas will be much more Somerset-focused than usual. This December, Cheddar (it’s a real place!) is participating in Window Wanderland, for which people decorate their windows and light them up during the evening. My daughters wanted a Harry Potter theme, so here are our windows and our Christmas lights. We’ll be going on lots of evening walks to enjoy the window displays and the thousands of Christmas lights that have appeared this year.

 

Elinor

I’m most looking forward to seeing my children’s excitement. They are at the age when Christmas is very magical and love all the lights and decorations. It’s also lovely to have a break from the usual routine and spend time as a family.

 

 

 

 

Alice

I’m most looking forward to being back in Dorset with my family and doing lots of baking, Christmas crafting, and playing ridiculous games.

 

 

 

 

 

Laura

We moved house last month and I am looking forward to having some time to spend working on it – for we have great plans for how we’ll make it our own. I shall enjoy learning new skills and taking out all the frustrations of 2020 on some walls which we’ll knock down! Our little Christmas tree is likely to get a dusting of debris rather than snow this year! And of course, I shall be doing plenty of Christmas baking to make sure we are well fuelled for all of this hard work.

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happier and healthier 2021. 

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.

Activities for a Lockdown

Now we’ve been in lockdown for a couple of weeks here in the UK, we’re starting to get used to a different way of life and a lot more time spent at home. Of course, for some of you the pandemic doesn’t mean you have more time on your hands, and it might mean quite the opposite – working, while simultaneously trying to home-school children and stay sane, for example…but if you do find yourself at a loose end, here is a list of ideas to keep you occupied!

  1. Anna’s sourdough loaf

    Making lengthy recipes that you’d never normally have the time to do. Anna made this amazing-looking sourdough bread that took a week to produce!

  2. Gardening and growing things – even if it’s just house plants or herbs. Not only can this be very therapeutic, but depending on what you grow, you get to see and enjoy the results for months or even years to come. Alice has started a series of vlogs documenting her progress which you can watch here!
  3. Catching up with friends and family with whom you haven’t spoken in a long time. People seem to be checking in on each other more at the moment, which is one of the nicer aspects of these strange times. As great as social media is at a time like this, it’s also a good chance to reinstate letter and postcard writing – everyone loves getting post!
  4. The team having a ‘Friday lunch’ chat

    Socialising online – the MM/CVP team has been busier than ever, participating in online drinks, pub quizzes and even weddings, all from the comfort of their own homes.

  5. Reading. Finally a chance to get through that to-read pile and not just squeeze a few pages in before you fall asleep…
  6. Doing arts and crafts. Whether that’s painting, writing, knitting, scrap-booking…being creative can be a really good way to relax and distract yourself.
  7. Learning or improving a language. Time to dust off the books or download an app – you might even be able to find an online tandem partner to learn with.
  8. Sunrise over Dawlish taken by Sarah on an early morning walk

    Making the most of your walks. At the moment, we’re allowed to go out for a walk (or run, or bike ride) for exercise once a day in the UK. Since it has to be done in your local area, it’s a chance to explore parts of your neighbourhood you wouldn’t usually, get some vitamin D and appreciate how much more clearly you can hear the birds with fewer cars on the road!

  9. Moving your body. There is probably every type of exercise video you could possibly imagine on YouTube, all of which you can do from home, often with no special equipment at all. Dancing, yoga, aerobics, martial arts…it’s a good way to get moving even when you’re not allowed to move anywhere!
  10. DIY projects. A drawer that always sticks, pictures that you keep meaning to put up, a room that needs painting. Now might be the time to tick them off your to-do list!

Whatever you’re spending your time doing, we hope you’re all keeping safe and well and in good spirits!

Tips for Working From Home

Following the worldwide outbreak of coronavirus, we are now all working from home. A few members of the team regularly work from home and are veterans of the practice, but for the rest of us it’s taking some getting used to! For anyone else who’s adjusting, we thought we’d put together some top tips for a successful day working at home.

  • Treat it like a normal working day as far as possible. Get up at the same time as usual and shower, get dressed etc. Don’t get your laptop out or scan through emails until your ‘start time’ in the morning, and when you finish for the day, put your laptop away.
  • If possible try to get some natural light and fresh air before you start work, even if it’s just leaning out of the window to drink your tea.
  • Have a designated working space, ideally a desk, but definitely not your sofa or bed!
  • Get up and move around once an hour.
  • Try to get outside for a stroll at lunchtime and, if possible, repeat after work too.
  • Make sure your lighting is good to work by, ideally natural light near a window.
  • Drink plenty of water and have snacks on hand.
  • Depending on how efficient your heating/insulation is, it might be chillier at home than in the office. Make sure to layer up and invest in some good slippers!
  • Try to keep up communication with your colleagues as much as possible. We use an instant messaging platform to keep in touch with each other throughout the day.
  • If you’re missing the hubbub of working in an office, the radio can be a good substitute. You could also do a collaborative playlist with your colleagues that you all listen to at the same time, as we’re planning!
    Laura in her new home office set-up

    Take care everyone!