Small Yet International: Our Books Travel the World

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 Life of a Book – Post-production!

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