Paying a visit to our new distributor, NBN International

24 January 2017

Last week we took a day out of the office and made the two hour road trip down to Plymouth to visit our new distributor, NBN International (NBNi). NBNi takes care of the storage and shipping of our books destined for customers in the UK and all over the world (except the Americas, which is handled by their American counterpart, National Book Network). We are in constant contact with the orders and customer services teams and regularly email our contacts, Juliette and Matt, with queries as we settle in to the workings of a new distributor, so I was looking forward to meeting everyone and putting faces to names.

Anna and Flo reaching dizzying heights on the forklift

Anna and Flo reaching dizzying heights on the forklift

The team at NBNi gave us a very warm welcome and while Tommi, Sarah and Laura had a meeting with Juliette and Ian about ASR (Automatic Stock Replenishment), Anna and I were taken on a tour of the warehouse and offices by Matt, our designated contact at NBNi. The tour started by navigating the maze of shelves that house the slower-moving books and then we were taken through to the packing section, where we caught our first glimpse of one of our own titles, The Darker Side of Travel, waiting to be packaged up and sent out. Next, we went through to the bulk store section of the warehouse, filled with boxes of books on shelves that reached 10 metres high. This provided the highlight of the day when Anna and I were allowed to ride one of the forklifts (kindly supervised by its driver) up to the topmost shelves. We were originally blasé when asked if we were afraid of heights, but being 10 metres up felt a lot higher from the air than it looked from the ground!

Anna's spotted our books!

Anna’s spotted our books!

Having set our feet back on firm ground, we made our way back past the packing area, were mesmerised by a plastic wrapping robot described by its operator as ‘poetry in motion’, met the warehouse manager and then went up to the mezzanine level of the warehouse to get a better view of the place. There were bookshelves as far as the eye could see and we spotted somebody dusting the top row, which has to be done every day to ensure the stored books are kept in good, saleable condition. On our way back down, we stumbled across a big chunk of shelving filled with our books, which provided a a perfect opportunity for Anna to have a photo with Principles and Practices of Teaching English as an International Language. We then popped in to see the print on demand service, where some of our books are set up, before it was time to head back upstairs to meet the orders and customer services team, who deal with our requests on a day-to-day basis.

Books as far as the eye can see

Books as far as the eye can see

We all met up again for lunch (there was a lot of jealousy at the news of our forklift ride) and soon it was time to hit the road. There was just enough time to fit in a quick detour to Dawlish to drop in on Sarah’s parents, who greeted us with delicious scones from their local tearooms, before heading back to Bristol.

This trip was a great opportunity to meet our new colleagues at NBNi and get a feel for how everything works there. We’re looking forward to working with them in 2017 and beyond!

Flo


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


The Debate on Brexit and the Potential Impact on Academic Publishing

1 November 2016

Alongside the meetings and stalls at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which Tommi and I attended last week, there were also talks and discussions on topics of general interest to publishers. One that caught our eye on the Publishing Perspectives stage was entitled “Debate on Brexit and the Potential Impact on Academic Publishing” and I went along to hear the discussion. The panel comprised Richard Fisher, an academic policy correspondent, Richard Mollet from the RELX group and Andy Robinson from the publisher Wiley.

The general feeling among academic publishers is that the UK’s vote to leave the European Union is troubling and of great concern so the panel began with the discussants being asked if it is all doom and gloom as we suspect, or if there are in fact some silver linings to the situation. The panellists managed to come up with 4 positives, such as the short term currency gains which publishers with high exports are enjoying, potential beneficial changes in VAT laws, a renewed focus on emerging markets and UK research possibly being able to reposition and rebuild itself – particularly in some areas of science research, such as clinical trials, where the UK’s formerly strong output has fallen apart. We were also reminded that there were pockets of support for Brexit among some UK academics and that we need to respond to and work for the 52% who voted for the UK to leave the EU.

The panel on the Publishing Perspectives stage

The panel on the Publishing Perspectives stage

The above positives aside, the discussants identified several major concerns of Brexit for the publishing industry which were grouped into 3 main areas: people, funding and regulations.

The UK publishing workforce has a higher than national average percentage of workers from abroad and we do not know what the implications of Brexit will be for employment. The same goes for researchers at UK institutions and EU students, who bring growth for our economy as well as numerous other societal benefits. The panel mentioned anecdotal evidence of academics now refusing positions at UK universities and UK academics being taken off grant applications or side-lined within existing projects. Furthermore, the UK will now be relegated to the position of an observer rather than a participant on discussions around matters such as Open Access in academia.

Regarding the concern of funding, the panel felt that the sector needs to make a clear case to the government for research funding to be maintained and provided, especially as the terms of Brexit are negotiated and we are in a state of flux. Universities shouldn’t resort to pleading and requesting a special case, but rather they need to stress to the government the importance of the industry to our society and economy.

Finally, on the topic of regulation, the conversation moved to areas such as copyright law, data protection and medical trials, all of which are currently governed to some extent by EU law but which need not be in the future. We were reminded that the UK has traditionally had a good research reputation but, where Britain now goes the world won’t follow. Our decreased voice on topics of international concern is troubling.

The session was wrapped up with an optimistic view that British publishing is international in scope and outlook and that that is unlikely to change, especially in the humanities where relations are as much transatlantic and global as they are European. Brexit will no doubt have an impact on the industry but perhaps not as much as other concerns of 21st century publishing, such as mass piracy and green open access, but those are topics for discussion another time!

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


Teaching Students to Break the Rules

13 July 2016

This month we are publishing Nigel Krauth’s book Creative Writing and the Radical which explores the ideas of innovation and experimentation within creative writing. In this post, Nigel discusses how he taught students to break the rules and how the way creative writing is taught must change to incorporate the ever-evolving modern world.

I’ve taught creative writing for 25 years at Griffith University, but only in one course – my Radical Fictions course – have students thanked me for teaching them how to break the rules. In addition, they’ve said: ‘I wish I had taken this course at the start of my degree, not at the end of it’.

In reply I used to say: ‘You need to know the rules before you can break them well.’ But nowadays I don’t say that. The students know already that rule-breaking is part of the mainstream in literary publishing.

Creative Writing and the RadicalMy book Creative Writing and the Radical traces the history of experimental writing in the 20th century and earlier, and shows how those gallant, devoted writers who sought to escape the strictures of the page – who made typography dance, presented narrative in manoeuvrable fragments, introduced pictures amongst the prose, and did away with the conventions of the printed and bound book – were actually onto something. They were rehearsing for the future.

Multimodal writing – based on ways of reading spatially which developed since TV and computer screens took over our reading/viewing habits – breaks the rules of traditional linear text writing in favour of writing which is not constrained by the densely-printed page but is oriented to the hypermedia possibilities of the app book, web publication, formats like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, PowerPoint, and other applications that combine text, visuals, audio – and even haptics, potentially.

In my Radical Fictions/Experimental Writing course last semester, I had a student who presented a suite of poems using QR codes on stickers located in appropriate settings, such as a poem about departure accessible from a QR label in an airport. I also had a narrative about a young woman’s enviable married life presented in images and short texts on Instagram, alongside a web journal which showed what was really going on in the relationship. And I had a romance genre novelette presented in PowerPoint with images and audio subtly supplementing – and subverting – the reading experience.

When students are shown Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph’s collaborative web novel Flight Paths (2012), or Chapter 12 (the PowerPoint chapter) of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010), or the reissue of Marc Saporta’s novel-in-a-box Composition No 1 (1963) by Visual Editions (2011) which can also be read on shuffle on their iPads, they quickly understand the possibilities of creative writing in the digital world and the changes most likely to happen for fiction, poetry and memoir in the future.

My students tend to have no particular visual arts or digital writing training, and not all feel confident about working on digital outcomes. As has happened over many years now, I still receive submissions based wonderfully in collaging, cut-and-paste, concrete typographical, discontinuous narrative and constraint/combinatory techniques as pioneered by the Dadaists, Oulipians and generally by experimental literary writers on paper.

This year one student handed in a story about a child who develops a psychotic disorder in his teenage years, as told through the parental words added to birthday and Christmas cards throughout his shortened life. The greeting cards (almost forty in number, purchased, hand-written upon, and submitted for assessment) show how the apple of the effusive parents’ eye becomes a stranger they have nothing left to say to. Another student, who in fact lived through 9/11 in New York, submitted a narrative in a hundred 6-word mini-stories – each printed on a torn strip of paper, a jam jar full of them – which looked like a retrieved collection of the confetti that rained down on that fateful day. This novelette in a jar, narrated from children’s viewpoints, seeks to understand what adult culture is doing to the world.

Traditional paper publishing too is changing: the experimental has been accepted into the mainstream. The best example is Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2005), a highly acclaimed novel – and also a bestseller – which sets up complex interactions between text, layout, typography, design, graphics, colour, photography, literary forms and the structure of the codex itself. This novel is a master class in the possibilities of radical novel writing – a work that puts onto paper everything that the digital world can teach us about writing. It too is about 9/11’s explosion of American culture.

It stands alongside J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst’s S. (2013), a novel on a Hollywood scale made from a myriad of visual pieces, and W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz (2001), a novel which shows how memoir is significantly composed of photographic snippets.

There are many new avenues for the teaching of creative writing to follow. But they are not optional. Publishing is changing, how we read is changing … the way we teach creative writing must also change.

For more information about Nigel’s book, please see our website. If you found this interesting you might also be interested in the other titles in our New Writing Viewpoints Series.


How to choose a good book title

8 July 2016

Picking a good title for an academic book is vital for getting your work seen by other researchers in your field. Good academic titles reveal not only the topic but also an idea of the specific approach, argument or area of discussion. This post provides a helpful guide to choosing a title for your academic monograph.

First of all, remember that keywords are crucial. Think about the key terms you use throughout your work and make sure they’re included in the title. Make sure these keywords are also used throughout the book, in chapter headings and in the book blurbs.

Think about what search terms people would use if they were searching for your book and make sure you include these. Start by googling your potential title. If there are not many results this might mean that the terms you are using are not in common usage and therefore are best avoided. However, if there are many results be sure to check that there are no other books, papers or journals with the same title as yours as this will only cause confusion. In short, you want to get an idea of whether people are already searching for the keywords you’re using. Make sure the results that come up in your search are in the right discipline.

There is a difference between the main title and the subtitle. Sometimes books are only cited by the main title not the subtitle so make sure you’re not hiding any key information in the subtitle. The subtitle can contain more specific information such as the region or the kind of approach used which is not essential to the overall topic of the book. The specifics of the context, the precise languages covered or the specific participants of the study can be detailed in the blurb and the book. This doesn’t necessarily need to be in the title of the book.

Use clear and concise language to describe the topic of the book. Don’t use obscure academic terminology or jargon which isn’t widely known in the field. Remember, booksellers are not always experts in your field so the title needs to be clear to those who only have a broad understanding of the topic. Equally, if you’re coining a new term or phase in your book, it might be best to avoid using this in the main title as it won’t be known to many people and they won’t use it as a search term to find the book. Avoid using a clever or funny phrase as a title. Although it might mean something to you, out of context it won’t mean anything to anyone else and it won’t accurately convey the content of the book. Many people think an alliterative or quirky title is more appealing but really this is not appropriate for an academic audience and it is best to just focus on making the content clear.

Remember that the book title is sometimes the only thing a potential reader will see before making a decision as to whether to find out more. Make sure it is attractive to researchers in your field without being misleading or ambiguous. There’s so much research out there you want to make yours memorable so that readers realise it’s exactly what they’re looking for.

Good book titles

Examples of good book titles

Good examples of academic book titles:

  • Complexity in Classroom Foreign Language Learning Motivation: A Practitioner Perspective from Japan – This displays the overall topic as well as the specifics of the author’s context.
  • Multilingual Perspectives on Child Language Disorders –This clearly depicts the area covered and the perspectives taken.
  • The Linguistic Landscape of Chinatown: A Sociolinguistic Ethnography – As well as a clear main title, the subtitle here clarifies the approach taken.

Bad examples of academic book titles:

  • Language and Society – This is too broad and does not show what aspects of language and society are being explored.
  • Discover, Discuss, Debate: Investigating Language Use in the Multilingual Classroom – Although the main title might sound snappy and appealing it actually tells you nothing about the book and in fact, the subtitle would make a much better main title.

Key tips

  • Use as many keywords as possible in the title, preferably ones that you have also used throughout the book.
  • Think about the search terms that potential readers would use when searching for your book and include those in the title.
  • You need to remember that sometimes all the information a potential reader will have about your book is the title. If that isn’t enough to sell it, you’ve missed your chance.
  • Don’t use obscure or incomprehensible language or technical jargon.
  • Don’t be vague, anything with multiple meanings that could be misconstrued or misunderstood should be avoided.

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


Open Access publishing: A positive step for research?

23 February 2016

The issue of Open Access (OA) has been an important and sometimes contentious subject in academic publishing for at least the past 10 years. Arising from a desire to see research (often publicly funded) made accessible to the widest possible audience, it has very worthy ideals. Although the main concentration of Open Access publications has been in the journals field, where the prices charged for subscriptions by larger publishers has been taking an ever greater part of the library budget, books are increasingly coming under pressure to be Open Access. In light of this, I thought it would be useful to clarify our position on OA and to discuss what I see as the possibilities and constraints of Open Access monograph publication.

OAlogo

Channel View Publications Ltd / Multilingual Matters is an academic book publisher, and we believe that, traditionally, it is our job to do the full work of the publisher. This includes full copyediting and typesetting of all the manuscripts that come our way, running all of the administrative processes involved in the editorial creation (and where necessary playing a part in the creation of the book), paying our authors and series editors a fair royalty on every dollar that their book earns, and financing a full and proactive global sales and marketing campaign. We also pay reviewers of proposals and manuscripts. We invest somewhere between 5,000 and 15,000 dollars in every book that we publish, the exact amount depending on the size and complexity of the book. In some cases the investment is even higher than this. We recoup that investment by selling copies of the book, and in the majority of cases we will not make a profit for at least the first 3 years of the book’s life, when staff and overhead costs are taken into consideration. Many of our books never make a profit, and when they do, those profits are overwhelmingly re-invested in future publications. We also believe in providing a healthy and happy workplace for our staff and paying them a living wage, a cost that is often hidden by some cheaper OA publishers, who rely on volunteers and academics working for free.

Channel View Publications Ltd / Multilingual Matters has always been committed to publishing important research in often under-researched and under-funded fields. We do our very best to publish books at a price that is accessible, whether that is by producing a paperback immediately on publication, or where that is not possible, producing a lower price ebook so that individuals might buy it. We will gladly collaborate with any author or appropriate funding body (and have done so in the past) to either produce and distribute subsidised versions, or to make books entirely Open Access, where we can reach an agreement on how to cover the costs of publication.

Tommi

Tommi contemplating Open Access!

What we will never do is compromise our editorial integrity. Even where we publish a book Open Access with an agreed publication fee, we will still commit to running the editorial process of peer review and manuscript revision with exactly the same rigour as if we were taking the financial risk of publication ourselves.

The main advantage of publishing Open Access, so long as it is done with a reputable and responsible publisher, is that you immediately remove all barriers of access to that publication, so long as the reader has access to a computer and a reliable internet connection.

The main disadvantage of publishing Open Access is that the author or funding body is taking on the financial cost of that publication which would traditionally be borne by the publisher. If the publication is done properly, this is not (and should not be) an insignificant sum of money.

Open Access publication, when done properly and adequately funded, can be a very positive step for research. We do not believe it is the right answer for all books or all fields of study. I have a fear that there will be babies thrown out with the bathwater, and that if all publications are moved to an Open Access funding model, it will only be a matter of time before university funding bodies faced with the next cash crisis are forced to make a decision between whether they fund the law school publications or the minority language revitalisation publications, and I don’t think any of us need a crystal ball to know which way that decision would go.

That said, we remain committed to working with our community to make all of our publications as accessible as possible, whether that is through Open Access or traditional models of publication where the customer pays. Our ultimate intention is that publication by Channel View Publications Ltd / Multilingual Matters continues to be a mark of quality, no matter how the publication is funded.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of making your next publication with Channel View Publications Ltd / Multilingual Matters Open Access, please send me an email at tommi@channelviewpublications.com and we will come back to you with an indication of how much this would cost and what we would offer.

Tommi


Why publish with us?

15 December 2015

With academic publishing becoming more competitive, we need to fight to keep our place among the larger publishers. We are proud of our independent status and of the values that we represent. This post gives a bit more detail about why authors should choose Multilingual Matters/Channel View Publications as their publisher.

The MM/CV team

The MM/CV team

We are a small, independent company wholly owned by our Managing Director, Tommi Grover, his brother Sami and the staff who work for Multilingual Matters/Channel View Publications. This means our publishing decisions are made by and for people with a knowledge of, and passion for, languages, multilingualism and tourism studies. We are free to publish books we believe in and to treat our authors, customers and staff with integrity, as ultimately we answer to people who care about the areas we publish in, rather than to people who are uninvolved in the day-to-day running of the company and are more concerned with profits.

Publishing with us is a positive choice to support an independent, ethical company, and a responsive, compassionate way of doing business. Publishing with us doesn’t mean you can expect ‘less’ than from a bigger publisher – in fact we’d suggest you should expect more from us:

  • Because our staff feel valued and cared for, they stay for a long time. So it’s highly likely you will deal with the same person from proposal to publication and beyond. All 7 of us are involved in the decision to publish every book, and so whoever you speak to will know about you, your book, and why it’s important.
  • We travel a lot (and we were off-setting our carbon footprint before it was fashionable). This means your books will be seen by people all over the world, and that our staff are at specialist conferences where they meet new authors and customers. In the past year our team of 7 has been to: New Zealand, Japan, the US (lots of times), Canada, France, Poland, Australia, Sweden, Lapland, Germany, Italy and several UK conferences (and this has been a quiet year on the conference front!).
  • We offer open access publishing; everything we publish is available as consumer ebooks; and we continue to publish as much as we can as affordable paperbacks.
  • We are proud of the help and support we offer authors publishing their first book: we have been doing this for years, and we do it because we believe in developing new talent and new ideas, not because we need manuscripts to pad out our publication program. Our first-time authors receive the same care and attention as their more experienced colleagues.
  • We are constantly looking out for new topics and ideas and we are pleased to be often the first publisher to take a risk in a new and emerging subject area.

We hope that you find this useful. If you would like further information about sending us a proposal please see the proposal guidelines on our website.

If you are still working on your PhD but think that you would like to rework it for a book then please see our notes on turning your PhD thesis into a book.


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.


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