Why do we publish some of our books in hardback only?

9 May 2017

As a small, independent publisher we are fortunate that most of our publishing decisions can come from the heart (‘do I like this book?’ ‘is it important?’ ‘is it new?’) rather than the head (‘will it make money for our shareholders?’ ‘will it help me hit targets?’). However one of the downsides of being such a small operation is that our margins for error are not huge, and when things go wrong, or the market takes a downturn, we don’t have a large university or a multinational conglomerate to cushion us: we stand or fall by the quality of the books we’ve published recently and the number of people prepared to buy them.

Laura, Anna and Tommi at AAAL selling all our books, both paperbacks AND hardbacks, at the same discount price

Until relatively recently we were unusual in publishing virtually all of our books in both paperback and hardback, with the paperbacks appearing at the same time as the hardbacks. If money were no object this is undoubtedly how we would choose to publish our books: making quality research widely available is why we do what we do, and publishing any other way is a wrench for us. I hate telling authors that they aren’t getting a paperback of their books, and none of us like to stand behind a conference table and hear how students can’t afford to buy our books. There’s little joy in publishing if your audience is small and getting smaller.

But about 18 months ago we were hit by the perfect storm of the continuing effects of the financial crisis on both library and individual budgets, increasing costs, and library ebook deals which meant that we were often receiving a tiny percentage of the income we did 10 years ago for providing the same product. In effect, large numbers of our books were no longer selling enough to cover our costs in producing them, let alone make us a profit. We were faced with a decision: do we throw our hands up, accept that there is no longer a role for independent academic publishers, and go and do something else? Or do we make changes to ensure that most of the books we publish at least pay their own way? And it’s sad but true that it’s easier for us to cover our costs on a book where we sell 80 hardback copies than where we sell 30 hardbacks and 100 paperbacks.

We recognise that this means we are producing books that are unaffordable for some people who might want to buy them – what do we do to try and make our books as affordable as we can?

  • We still publish over half our titles in paperback and hardback simultaneously.
  • We offer many and varied discounts and promotions. Anyone who has ever written for us is entitled to a permanent 50% discount on everything we publish.
  • When only a hardback is available, we price the ebook as if there were a paperback – not all publishers do this.
  • We offer substantial discounts at conferences, bigger than those of most of our competitors.
  • We review all of our books 6 months after publication and if sales of either the hardback or the ebook suggest that there might be a bigger market than we anticipated, we produce a paperback. We also take into account feedback from readers, librarians and our sales reps: if enough people are asking for a paperback, we produce one.
  • We keep prices down on our most popular books, rather than charging as much as we could for books that readers have to buy for courses or to keep their own work up-to-date.

Some recent titles originally published in hardback only that we’ve decided to bring out in paperback

As an author, you can give your book the best possible chance of being published in paperback by keeping the widest possible (realistic!) audience in mind when writing – might your research be of interest to teachers, policy-makers, parents? Are you writing to make your research accessible to scholars from other disciplines? Are you linking your research to wider debates so it will be of interest to readers not specifically working in your particular research context? When the book is written, let us know if there are specific courses that might use your book. And after the book is published, pass on feedback to us – if people are asking you for a paperback, tell them to ask us.

We’re always very happy to discuss any ideas our authors and customers might have for making our books more affordably or widely available. Please get in touch with me if you have any thoughts! Every decision to publish a book in hardback only is accompanied by a good deal of soul-searching in the CVP/MM office, but I do believe that if we are to continue to publish important books, to innovate and lead the field, and to be a small force for good in the world, we do sometimes have to take hard decisions.

Anna

If you have any thoughts about this blog post, please do get in touch with us at info@channelviewpublications.com.


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


Getting to know the Channel View team: Elinor

12 May 2016

In this blog post we get to know Elinor. Elinor is our Marketing Manager and celebrated 10 years of working for CVP/MM last summer. She was also a student here at the University of Bristol, where she studied German and Spanish, so she has lived in Bristol for even longer than that. She’s pretty good at knowing about new places to see and things to do in Bristol, so we’ll start by asking her about her favourite hobbies.

Ellie in a tree

Elinor enjoying the great outdoors

You’ve lived in Bristol for quite a few years now, what are your favourite things to do in the city (aside from working for CVP/MM that is!)?

There is always so much going on in Bristol that there is always something to see and do. But I think my favourite things to do are wandering along the harbourside or through Ashton Court stopping off for coffee and cake along the way.

The harbourside area is one of my favourite places too and Ashton Court is such a lovely green space, those sound like good suggestions to me, especially if accompanied by coffee and cake! You must have quite a sweet tooth then, do you do much baking at home?

Yes I love to bake cakes and biscuits and once I even worked my way through a book of 101 cake recipes in a year. It was fun but pretty hard work to bake 2 cakes a week for a year but my friends and colleagues really enjoyed sampling the results! With several keen bakers in the office we quite often have delicious home-baked treats to get us through our long meetings!

Ellie showing off her baking skills

Elinor showing off her baking skills

I remember that year well, I think I had to do double the amount of exercise to burn off the calories from all your delicious cake! I’m guessing your bookshelves are lined with lots of cookery books, but are you also a big reader of fiction, or any other genre?

Ha! Yes fortunately the excess of cake didn’t affect our waistlines too much! As well as the many baking recipe books I pore over on a regular basis, I love to read fiction and get through several books a month. Although I mostly read contemporary fiction, I also appreciate the odd classic and enjoy nothing more than spending a good hour or so in the library picking new books to read. In fact, it’s getting to the point where my shelves at home are overflowing with unread books but I still can’t stop myself acquiring more!

It’s good to be keeping libraries busy too! Do you have any favourite books or authors to recommend?

This is a tricky one, I have so many favourites! One of my all-time favourite books is Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter. The best book I have read recently is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

I agree that selecting a favourite book is very difficult!  So, one final question before we do some quick-fire ones to round up the interview, if you could be a character in a (fiction) book, who might you choose to be?

Ooh that’s really difficult! Although I like the idea of being in a Jane Austen novel and going to balls, I think that being a woman in that era would be a bit too restrictive for my liking! Might be fun to try out for a day though.

A day would certainly be fun!  Just a few more questions and then you’re done:

Cakes or biscuits? Too difficult. I refuse to answer. Both play such an important role in my life, it would be like choosing your favourite child!

Rural or urban? Again, a very difficult question. I love living in a city but enjoy escaping to the countryside for walks.

Dancing or singing? Singing

Board games or card games? Board games

Sunrise or sunset? Sunset

Motorbike or pushbike? Cycling on a normal bike is scary enough at times! I wouldn’t dream of getting on a motorbike.

Antique or modern? Modern


Get an ebook for £1.49 if you’ve already bought the printed version!

28 April 2015

Channel View has just partnered with BitLit! BitLit allows customers who have already bought the print edition of one of our books to buy the ebook for only £1.49. We’re really excited to offer our readers a way to access the content they’ve purchased in different formats. How BitLit works:

(1) Download the BitLit app on your smartphone (App store for iPhones, Google Play store for Android).

Shelfie!

Shelfie!

(2) Take a ‘shelfie’ of your bookshelf (see example of my shelfie).

(3) Based on your shelfie, BitLit will let you know which books are available to download.

Copyright page example

Copyright page example

(4) Once you know it’s available take a photo of the cover of your book and sign your name on the copyright page (normally p. iv in our books) in ALL CAPS.

(5) Your ebook will be delivered to you via email. From there you can download it to any of your devices.

If you give this a try we’d love to hear about your experience using the BitLit app and please feel free to send in your shelfies to info@channelviewpublications.com!


Conferences Fast-forward

28 February 2014

Again it’s the time of year when we start to think about conferences and leaving our office in Bristol for different cities, countries and climates.  2014 is set to be a bumper year of travel as it seems to be the year when biannual and triennial conferences occur, and some one-off conferences also join our usual schedule.

San Diego Convention Center - location for NABE 2014

San Diego Convention Center – location for NABE 2014

The year has kick-started with CAUTHE and NABE, both of which took place as usual in February.  Sarah and Laura headed off in different directions around the globe – Sarah to Brisbane for CAUTHE and Laura to San Diego for NABE.  Keep your eyes on the blog to read about Sarah’s trip soon. NABE was slightly blighted by the snow storms on the East Coast which meant that several delegates had to cancel their plans, but those of us who did make it enjoyed the Californian sunshine, when we weren’t at the conference of course!

In March, Tommi, Laura and Kim will be at AAAL as usual.  This year’s conference in Portland has a publishing focus, so Tommi will be running a session titled “Publishing your first book: From proposal to published product” in which he’ll outline the process of getting an academic book published, from early preparation and planning, through choosing the right publisher, submitting a book proposal and all the editorial stages to final production, publication, sales and marketing. If you are at the conference and at all interested in this subject please come along to the talk at 12:35 on Saturday.

Our stand at NABE 2014

Our stand at NABE 2014

TESOL in Portland and AERA in Philadelphia are the other conferences in the US which we’ll be exhibiting at this spring.  We will have a whole host of new titles with us at these conferences so do feel free to come over and browse the books and say hi.  We always offer a special conference price on our books to delegates, and this year we’re able to extend that to our ebooks, so there’s all the more reason to come over and say hi!

Other highlights later in the year include the Interdisciplinary Tourism Research Conference in Turkey in May, L3 and the Sociolinguistics Symposium both in Northern Europe in June, AILA in Australia in August and EUROSLA in York, UK to name a few. As ever, we very much hope that you’ll be able to meet us at one of these conferences and hope that you have safe and enjoyable travels too.

Laura


New app to encourage multilingualism

25 February 2014

MM author Kelleen Toohey, along with her colleagues, have developed ScribJab to encourage multilingualism among 9-13 year- olds. Here, Kelleen tells us a bit more detail about the project.

ScribJab (www.scribjab.com) is a website and free iPad application that tries to encourage multilingualism and appreciation for multilingual resources in Canada and throughout the world. ScribJab allows writers to write, illustrate, narrate and publish stories in at least two languages. It also provides space for authors to comment on other people’s stories. Developed initially for 9-13 year old children, the site and app are seeing the creation of stories by older and younger authors. While ScribJab does not correct or edit authors’ stories (wishing to encourage writers at all stages of proficiency), a teacher moderates the site for appropriateness. Authors can contribute stories individually or there are provisions for teachers to enrol classes.

Like most educational researchers today, we believe that children learn second languages faster and better if they have a strong foundation in their first language. We also believe that valuing languages is important for the development of children who grow up in multilingual homes, whether they know their heritage languages or not.

Children who are not multilingual are encouraged to contribute to the site as well, if they can find some help in translating their stories into other languages. Developing positive attitudes to multilingualism is important for all citizens, and through this website and app, we hope to provide a positive experience for all.

The first books on the website were developed by a group of 9 and 10-year old children whose teacher asked them to write books for younger children which might be read (in their first languages) by grandparents visiting their school for “noisy reading” time. Children gathered the stories from their grandparents, stories about when the grandparents were children. The stories differ in length, complexity and accuracy. We see this as entirely appropriate, and children discussed the fact that some books might be appropriate for younger children and their grandparents and others suitable for older children. These books are published on the site as “hand drawn samples”.

We hope that writers and readers internationally will find ScribJab a helpful resource, and that it fosters an appreciation for multilingualism and promotes discussions about multilingualism.

For further information about ScribJab please see the website www.scribjab.com or contact Kelleen Toohey at toohey@sfu.ca


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


Tourism and the Shifting Values of Cultural Heritage

25 April 2013
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Earlier this month I attended the Tourism and the Shifting Values of Cultural Heritage conference, organised by the Ironbridge Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham and National Taiwan University. The conference was held at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei – easily the most impressive conference venue I’ve experienced!

Lee Jolliffe and Joyce Yeh in front of the CVP stand!

The conference was well-attended by Channel View authors, Mike Robinson was one of the conference convenors, and Lee Jolliffe, Philip Xie, Kevin Hannam and Rick Hallett all presented papers. There were a lot of delegates from different disciplines such as history and anthropology. A lot of the attendees remarked on the high quality of papers and I managed to get to a few of them – spices, anime and aboriginal tourism among the subjects.

Mike Robinson closing the conference

Mike Robinson closing the conference

Among the conference highlights were study visits round Taipei,  a 10-course banquet at the Grand Hotel which offered amazing views of the city, and an evening of karaoke – with some brilliant performances from delegates!

Taipei is a great city to visit – I’d highly recommend it 🙂

Sarah


Update on Ethiopia project

5 April 2013
Martin using the books with the children

Martin using the books with the children

Back in January we posted about one of our authors, Martin Pütz’s literacy project in Ethiopia. (You can see the original post here.) Since then Martin has returned from his latest trip to Ethiopia and has reported back to us on his progress.

The children with their new books

The children with their new books

He visited 4 different schools and brought newly purchased textbooks both in English and Amharic as well as exercise books, notebooks, writing materials and anatomical models for biology classes.

Schoolchildren in their classroom

Schoolchildren in their classroom

Martin reports that the “children, their teachers and parents were overwhelmed with joy. For me personally it was a marvellous experience to see the children’s happy faces and also to know that we did something good to promote basic education and literacy in Ethiopia which is so badly needed in this country.”

We look forward to hearing more about how the project develops in the future.


Why aren’t ebooks free?

20 March 2013
Kobo, ebooks.com, amazon kindle, google books, nook, ebooks, ingram, myilibrary, academic pub, dawson, ebook library, ebrary

Our ebook vendors

Since we started publishing ebooks for library platforms back in 1999, we’ve often pondered on what the correct pricing for ebooks should be. In 2011 we started publishing each new book, and a large number of backlist titles, on all major consumer ebook platforms (like Amazon Kindle, Apple iBookstore, Google Play, Kobo, Nook, Ebooks.com and many independent ebooksellers) and the question of pricing has come up again. We are often asked “why aren’t your ebooks free, or extremely cheap, given that they cost nothing to produce?”  and so, in this post, I’ll outline why we price them like we do.

While we don’t have print, warehousing or shipping costs for ebook sales, these are only a small number of the total costs in book publishing. The majority of the costs in producing an academic book come from the huge investment of time and resources that the publisher, the author, and the academic series editors have put into a book. For example, this month we proudly published “Language Planning and Policy in Native America”, a book which we first started discussing with the author over 12 years ago. During that time, the manuscript has undergone several reviews, and many revisions, with the knowledge that we would not start to receive any income until the book was finally published. As a responsible academic publisher we are committed to not publishing books until they are fully and rigorously reviewed and revised so that they are not only factually accurate but as easy to read and as well-structured as possible to enable the reader to get the most out of the book. Anybody that has ever read an unedited self-published volume will be able to tell the difference that an experienced and careful review and editing process brings to a book project.

Sarah, our production manager, checking proofs in the office

Sarah, our production manager, checking proofs in the office

During the development time we still have to pay the office rent and the salaries of those members of staff working on the book. The author and academic series editors are not paid a penny for their work until the book is published and starts to earn royalties. We always pay our authors and editors a percentage of all income earned by the book, whether we as a publisher have covered our costs or not, and these are the cheques that we have the most pleasure in sending out. If we are sending our authors a large royalty cheque, it means a job well done.

Once a book goes into production, we work with our copy-editors and typesetters to ensure that typographical errors are corrected and that the files are laid out in a way that makes the book readable on the variety of different devices and systems that our customers use to access our ebooks. We continue to research developments in the ebook publishing arena, and make sure that our company is ready to respond to new developments as and when a reliable industry wide solution is made available. We pride ourselves in being among the early adopters of most new publishing strategies.

Govinda, our Indian Rep, at the World Book Fair in New Delhi

Govinda, our Indian Rep, at the World Book Fair in New Delhi

The cost to the publisher doesn’t stop on publication. We support all of our books with marketing mailings, email announcements, displays at conferences, review copies and so on. Furthermore, we regularly visit our international library bookselling partners and meet with our international reps to make sure that our publication information is available to top research libraries and customers around the world. Although it is easy these days to make a book available on the internet, or in a library database, we believe that each individual title deserves specific publicity to make sure that it is not only available, but also, that the people who would benefit the most from that research are made aware of it. This takes time, expertise, and funding.

What people sometimes don’t realise is that not all of what the customer pays for a book is passed on to the publisher. Therefore, each time we sell an ebook, our bookselling partners take a portion of the income and pay us after taking off the discount that we give them. The work that booksellers and library suppliers do on behalf of their customers does not come for free, and neither should it.

Another cost to the publisher is monitoring file sharing sites and illegal pirate copies of the work, which we do on behalf of our authors to ensure that their work is not read without them receiving reward for their hard work. File-sharing sites might seem idealistic, but the owner and host of that site may well be receiving valuable advertising revenue, driven by the amount of traffic that visits their site. So they are getting paid, while the people who have spent years creating the content are not. As soon as we discover our content on these sites, we write to them requesting that they stop illegally sharing material that belongs to somebody else.

Tommi at the TESOL conference

Tommi at the TESOL conference

As a publisher we believe in supporting the main associations in our fields, whether that is by regular conference attendance by senior staff at the CAUTHE conference, annual top level sponsorship of AAAL, or long term grant projects like the Multilingual Matters-AILA Library Award and Multilingual Matters-AILA Solidarity Award. We strongly believe in contributing towards the future development of the fields in which we work, and although we don’t tie the costs of these sponsorships to individual book or ebook publications, this is where the money comes from.

Given all the time, effort and expense that go into running a truly international, responsible academic publishing company, surely the real question is “why should an ebook be free?”

Tommi


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