With the welcome return of Elinor Robertson to our office next month after spending a year on maternity leave, we have taken the time to have a reshuffle of some of the main responsibilities within the business, and have a look at our job titles to make sure they truly reflect the work of each team member here at Channel View Publications/Multilingual Matters. With a small business it is natural that we all wear many hats, and so it is nearly impossible to get a single job title to accurately cover all aspects of each person’s work. What is more important is that when we present ourselves to our contacts outside the company, our job titles reflect the level of responsibility that we carry, so that our contacts know who to talk to about any given issue.
Elinor Robertson will be returning to her job in charge of all matters relating to marketing. As the most senior person for marketing, her new job title will be Head of Marketing. Because she will be coming back part-time, she will be passing on her role as Commissioning Editor for our series Aspects of Tourism, Aspects of Tourism Texts and Tourism Essentials to Sarah Williams so that she is better able to dedicate her time to marketing all of our books globally.
Sarah Williams will take on all commissioning for the Channel View Publications imprint, and with her job as the most senior contact for all production-related issues, her job title will be changed to Head of Production. Sarah manages our freelance production contacts and liaises with all of our suppliers, as well as setting our production strategy and quality values, so carries the responsibility for ensuring that our books are always of high quality, whether they are print books or ebook resources.
Flo McClelland, Anna Roderick and Tommi Grover will keep their current job titles as their jobs are not changing so dramatically:
Flo McClelland is our Marketing and Publishing Coordinator and runs all our social media accounts. She also works with our designers and authors on book covers and with Elinor in the marketing department on all matters relating to marketing and publicity. Flo will be coordinating the work of our incoming Publishing Intern (more to follow later) and you will also come across Flo more often at conferences in the future, so please make sure you say hello if you see her!
Anna Roderick is our Editorial Director and is in charge of editorial strategy for the business. The subject areas we publish in, and the editorial tone of the business, are a constantly-evolving work; although we naturally stay true to our core beliefs, it is important for us to branch out into new fields and it is Anna who searches out these areas and discovers the inspiration for our future publications. She also commissions everything that isn’t commissioned by someone else, and attempts to make the rest of the editorial department do their admin. Together with Tommi she is half of our board of directors, and shares the legal responsibility for the business.
Tommi Grover is Managing Director, and has day-to-day responsibility for all matters relating to finance and the legal side of running the business. He oversees the running of all departments to make sure where possible that each of the heads of departments have adequate resources and skills. Tommi will continue to attend major conferences and book fairs and has commissioning responsibility for our Linguistic Diversity and Language Rights, and CAL Series on Language Education book series.
As an office, we take Christmas very seriously! Celebrations start on 1st December, when we decorate the office and get the Christmas tunes playing. In this post we put a Christmassy spin on our recent Desert Island Discs blog post and share some photos of this year’s CVP/MM Christmas festivities!
If you’re bored of hearing the same 10 Christmas songs played on loop in every shop, you can check out our office’s carefully curated Christmas playlist on Spotify here. Here are our personal favourites, including the one we’d each save from the waves marked with a star.
*Proper Crimbo – Bo Selecta
Don’t Shoot Me Santa – The Killers
Must Be Santa – Bob Dylan
Donde Esta Santa Claus – Augie Rios
Christmas was Better in the 80s – The Futureheads
Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes
The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
One More Sleep Til Christmas – The Muppets Christmas Carol
Favourite Christmas Film: All I Want For Christmas
It’s Clichéd to be Cynical at Christmas – Half Man Half Biscuit
O Holy Night – Tracy Chapman
(Don’t Call Me) Mrs Christmas – Emmy the Great and Tim Wheeler
Santa Claus Meets the Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight) – Ramones
Favourite Christmas Film: It’s a Wonderful Life, with Nativity! a very VERY close second place
Favourite Christmas Food: Bread sauce
Gaudete – Steeleye Span
Feliz Navidad – José Feliciano
*I Was Born On Christmas Day – Saint Etienne
Last Christmas – Wham!
Walking In The Air – Aled Jones
It Doesn’t Often Snow at Christmas – Pet Shop Boys
The Power of Love – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer – Elmo & Patsy
Favourite Christmas Film: As I’ve only seen 3 Christmas films I have very few to narrow down, so it’ll be The Holiday
Favourite Christmas Food: Brandy butter (with mince pies on the side!)
2000 Miles – The Pretenders
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love
*O Holy Night – Tracy Chapman
Christmas Eve, 1943 – Tom McRae & The Standing Band
Fairytale of New York – The Pogues
Will You Still Be In Love With Me Next Year – Hot Club de Paris
It’s Clichéd to be Cynical at Christmas – Half Man Half Biscuit
Kindle a Flame in Her Heart – Los Campesinos!
Favourite Christmas Film: The Muppet Christmas Carol
Favourite Christmas Food: Yule log
Sylvian Joululaulu – Various different artists
Tonttujen Jouluyö – Various different artists
Joulupuu on Rakennettu – Various different artists
Joulupukki – Various different artists
Joulupukki puree ja lyö – M.A. Numminen
*Herra Huu Pelkää Joulupukkia – M.A. Numminen
Näin Sydämmeeni Joulun Teen – Various different artists
On Hanget Korkeat Nietokset – Various different artists
Favourite Christmas Film: I don’t have a favourite Christmas film, I think they are all pretty appalling and besides I can’t think of anything less Christmassy than watching TV on Christmas Eve, so I would rather sit in a wood fired sauna staring at the flames flickering under the stove. I hope, by the way, that my desert island will be an arctic desert island so I can jump in the snow from the sauna and it will be properly dark.
Next month we will be publishing Language Teacher Psychology edited by Sarah Mercer and Achilleas Kostoulas. The book begins with an invitation to the reader to reflect on their own memories of language learning: “If you think back to your language learning at school, you might remember specific tasks or projects you did, but, even more likely, you will remember your teachers.” This sparked a conversation in our office about language teachers we’ve encountered over the years, which we thought would make for an interesting blog post. Here are some of Laura, Flo and Tommi’s reflections on the language teachers that have stuck with them.
My first ever French teacher was obsessed with songs. Every single unit of vocabulary was accompanied by a song and action routine that we all had to learn and perform to the class. I imagine that for the quieter students that must have been a terrifying experience but for the rest of us it was great fun. The songs were incredibly catchy and have stuck with me and my school friends…so much so that we can still recite them off by heart, even 20 years later!
When I was in 6th Form I had French first thing on a Monday morning – not the best time of the week for teenagers! Our teacher came up with the idea that we’d take it in turns to bake a cake over the weekend and bring it in to share with the class that lesson. It was a brilliant idea – not only were we more enthusiastic about coming to class but it also brought us closer together as a group as we were more relaxed while chatting over cake. Some even tried their hand at baking French specialities!
My school German teacher made sure that lessons went well beyond the syllabus. She took the time to get to know us as individuals and often recommended German films and books that she thought we’d like. She made me realise that there’s so much more to studying a language than the topics in the textbook and that languages stretch far beyond the classroom walls. It was also a very good way to get us to engage with German outside lesson time too!
When I was on my year abroad in France I lived with some Spanish students. Over the course of the year they made sure that I learnt basic Spanish, not through formal instruction, but by making sure that they used Spanish as we did things together, such as cooking. Over time I picked up all sorts of vocabulary which has stuck with me since, including the phrase “¿Dónde están mis llaves?” (“Where are my keys?”) which was used on a near daily basis by one forgetful housemate!
During my year abroad I studied Russian at a French university. The course was taught by two teachers – the first was terrifying: incredibly strict with zero tolerance for mistakes. She called me “the foreigner” for the first few weeks, until I got so fed up I wrote my name in huge letters at the top of my essay in the hope she would get the hint. This was juxtaposed completely by the other teacher, who was kind, patient and very understanding of my predicament as a British student in a French classroom learning Russian! He made many allowances for my odd-sounding Russian to French translations and always made sure I understood definitions, often asking me to provide the class with the English translation, which helped me feel less useless! I really appreciated his acknowledgement and thoughtfulness, which meant I never felt lost or excluded from his lessons.
I have French lessons once a week and it’s probably my best language learning experience so far. My teacher has a great sense of humour, is patient, reassuring, and full of praise but never lets mistakes go unchecked. He’s obviously passionate about French culture and during our conversations he often plays us clips from French films, shows us books and photographs or plays songs. The atmosphere in his classroom is very egalitarian – there’s no tangible student/teacher divide and he is quick to be self-deprecating about his own English, which levels the playing field and reminds us that actually we’re all learners.
My A-Level German teacher at school recognised that I hated grammar tables and all of that formal language learning. He would quite often set the class an exercise to do with “der, die, das, die” or whatever. Noticing that I could never really get going at all, he would then come over and chat to me (in German) quite casually for 5-10 minutes, then he would finish with “right, you are now 10 minutes behind the rest of the class, you’d better get some work done”. I suspect I learned more German in those chats than I ever did from grammar tables…
My Italian teacher at Cultura Italiana in Bologna sat with me one day for a private lesson. During the lesson, she would talk, and I would sit leaning back with my arms folded across my chest. Eventually she grew exasperated and said “Tommi, do you care about any of this?” to which I replied “of course I do! I am listening very carefully!” “Argh, no, if you want to learn Italian you mustn’t listen, you need to lean forward, interrupt me and talk over me, that way I will know you want to be part of the conversation! We often go out, everyone talks at the same time, if you are not always saying something I will just assume you are bored and want to be somewhere else!”
For more information about the book that inspired this post, please see our website.
This blog post was inspired by the BBC Radio 4 programme, Desert Island Discs. For those of you not familiar with the format, the show’s guest (or ‘castaway’) chooses eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item that they would take with them if they were cast away on a desert island. For this post, we’ve each taken a turn at being the castaway and chosen the eight tracks that mean something to us, as well as a book and a luxury. Castaways also nominate the one track they would save if the rest were washed away by the waves, and we’ve marked those with a star. If you use Spotify, you can listen to the playlist of our music choices here.
Murheellisten Laulujen Maa – Eppu Normaali
Lapin Jenkka – Tapio Rautavaara
Ivano Fossati – Viaggiatori D’Occidente
* Valse Triste – Jean Sibelius
I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You – Tom Waits
Sylvian Joululaulu – Various different artists
Enough is Enough – Chumbawamba & Credit to the Nation
Tango Pelargonia – Kari Kuuva
Book: Muumipeikko ja Pyrstötähti – Tove Jansson
Luxury item: A compass
* Joe’s Head – Kings of Leon
A Day in the Life – The Beatles
Don’t You Worry Bout a Thing – Stevie Wonder
Wherever is Your Heart – Brandi Carlile
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
The Only Place – Best Coast
Doctor! Doctor! – Thompson Twins
Proper Crimbo – Bo Selecta
Book: Anne of Green Gables series – L. M. Montgomery
Luxury item: A cricket bat and ball
Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide – David Bowie
The Dancer – PJ Harvey
Doll Parts – Hole
* Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love
Leader of the Pack – The Shangri-Las
The Guests – Leonard Cohen
Proserpina – Martha Wainwright
Queen of Denmark – John Grant
Book: The Crimson Petal and the White – Michael Faber
Luxury item: A still
Pure Shores – All Saints
Good Tradition – Tanita Tikaram
* Sky And Sand – Paul Kalkbrenner
Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root
Books From Boxes – Maximo Park
Heart and Soul played on a piano
The Way I Are – Timbaland feat. Justin Timberlake
Murder On The Dancefloor – Sophie Ellis Bextor
Book: The Noughts & Crosses trilogy – Malorie Blackman
Luxury item: A 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of the world in exceptional detail
Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks
What Can I Do To Make You Love Me – The Corrs
Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
Mr. Brightside – The Killers
* Good Arms vs Bad Arms – Frightened Rabbit
Postcards from Italy – Beirut
Everlasting Light – The Black Keys
Coffee – Sylvan Esso
Book: Atonement – Ian McEwan
Luxury item: An everlasting notebook and pen
* Teardop – Massive Attack
Rambling Man – Laura Marling
Respect – Aretha Franklin
Porcelain – Moby
Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
Fake Empire – The National
The Blower’s Daughter – Damien Rice
Peaches – The Presidents of the United States of America
Book: The Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling
Luxury item: A lifetime supply of painting materials
Spotify users can listen to the full list (almost – sadly not every single song listed above is available on Spotify!) of our Desert Island Discs choices here.
This is the 500th post on our blog since it first began in 2011! We started the blog seven years ago, not long after our website was updated. In this post we reflect on the blog and share some special highlights and interesting facts with you.
Our very first blog post…
…was written by our Editorial Director, Anna, who wrote about the Mobility Language Literacy conference she attended in Cape Town in January of that year. Since then, we’ve published hundreds of blog posts: interviews with authors and staff alike, guest posts written by everyone from our sales rep to Tommi’s mum, blog series such as an A-Z of Publishing and Publishing FAQs, conference reports, authors introducing their new books, visits to suppliers, our thoughts on issues in the industry, such as Brexit and the pricing of ebooks…and much more!
The majority of people who read our blog are in the US and the UK, but we have readers all over the world, in 146 different countries!
In addition to this, Sarah and Anna, who joined the company within months of each other back in 2002, celebrated their 15 year anniversary working at CVP/MM. Of course, the occasion called for a blog post, and we published an interview with both Sarah and Anna looking back on their first days, biggest achievements and favourite memories.
Our blog was originally created as a place to share news, but it has become so much more than that. We hope that it gives readers an insight into what goes on behind the scenes and allows them to get to know us and the company a bit better. We look forward to the next 500 posts!
Every year in April and May there is a flurry of activity in the office as royalty processing season rolls around. It’s a very busy time for Tommi, as he makes at least 500 individual payments to authors and editors. In this post he answers some of the most common questions he’s asked regarding royalty payments.
How often will I get royalty statements?
Royalty statements are sent out once a year, and are calculated on sales to March 31st. Statements are usually sent at the beginning of May, once we have collated all the sales information.
How often will I receive royalty payments?
Royalty payments are made once per year. We start to make payments as soon as royalty statements have been sent, but with hundreds of authors to pay it takes us some time to work through all of these. We aim to have all payments made by the end of July, but this is not always possible.
What methods of payment are there?
We can pay by either bank transfer, PayPal or cheque. Bank transfer is the easiest for all concerned, although in some countries this can be expensive. We can normally arrange to make payment in your local currency – please contact Tommi if you would like to discuss this.
What information do I need to provide for a bank transfer royalty payment?
The information needed for bank transfers varies from country to country. If your bank is in the UK, we simply need your sort code and account number. For European bank accounts, the IBAN number. In most other countries, if you give us your account number, sort code (or routing code), BIC/SWIFT code where possible, and the name and branch address of your bank, we should have enough information to pay you. If in any doubt at all, contact Tommi.
I have received a cheque in pounds sterling, but my bank says they cannot cash it or it is very expensive to cash. What can I do about this?
We prefer to make payment by bank transfer, and will only pay by cheque in the event that you have either chosen to be paid by cheque, or you have not informed us of your payment preferences. If the amount is too small to cash, we can set your account to only pay once it accrues over a set amount. If you would prefer to be paid by bank transfer, please send us your bank details (see above). We will cancel the cheque that you have received and make a replacement payment by transfer. We do not like to have outstanding cheques on our account, so please do not simply throw the cheque away or ignore it. Instead, please contact Tommi to discuss your options.
Why didn’t I receive a royalty payment this year?
If you received a royalty statement, but have not received a payment, please check the following:
Is there a minimum payment on your account? This would be detailed on your summary statement as “minimum payment £XX”. We do not pay very small amounts, as bank fees and administration costs would be more than the payment is worth. On older contracts the minimum payment would be set at £25, but with newer contracts it is likely £50 or even £100. We can set this as high as you like, so if bank charges are particularly high in your country, please contact Tommi to discuss this.
Is the address correct on your royalty statement? If we do not have your correct address it is possible that your payment has been sent to an old address. Please make sure you update your contact details whenever these change.
Have you changed bank accounts since your last royalty payment? Please make sure you update us whenever you change bank accounts, so that we do not pay the wrong account. If our bank informs us that your account has closed, we will attempt to contact you, but with hundreds of authors to pay, this may take us a long time!
Have we mailed your office address? If we have sent a cheque to your office, it is possible that it has either got lost in the university internal mail, or if you work from home when students are off campus, you might find the cheque in your in-tray/pigeon hole when you return for the new semester.
If none of these answers fits, please contact Tommi and we can tell you whether or not we have made payment, and if so, what method we used.
Can my royalties be paid to someone else/a charity?
Yes. You can assign your royalties to another person or, should you wish to, you can assign your royalties to a charity. All you need to do is inform us who to pay, and how best to pay them. Our preferred method is payment by bank transfer.
What happens to my royalties if I die?
We normally pay your estate, if we are given details of how to do so. If we do not have any contact details and do not know how to pay your estate, we will set your account to accrue any unpaid royalties until such a time as we are contacted. Should you wish to plan ahead and assign your royalties to a charity in the event of your death, please contact Tommi and we will make a note on your account.
This year marks 35 years since we published our first book. Naturally, this has got us all feeling a bit reflective, and in this post we wanted to share how each of us ended up working at CVP/MM, from Tommi’s story that arguably began at the age of 6(!), to Alice who joined us at the beginning of this year.
We’ve told the reasons behind the founding of Multilingual Matters several times before, so I won’t go into those details. I have always done some work for the company, whether it was helping to stick labels onto envelopes aged 6, or processing subscription renewals and sales after school aged 15 to earn a bit of pocket money, so the family business was very familiar to me and I was always interested in how the business of publishing books actually worked. On finishing my literature degree at Essex University, I knew I wanted to work in the book trade. I also knew that I didn’t want to work for the family business as that might feel too much like pressure. My parents were also adamant that they did not want to employ their children, for much the same reasons, they did not want us to feel like we were being pressured into the business. As I was living in Colchester at the time, I would often meet Dad at the Independent Publishers Guild monthly seminars in London. It was a nice chance for us to catch up, and for me to learn a bit more about independent publishing. After one of these monthly meetings Dad and I went for a drink in the pub close to the meeting rooms. It was clear that they were looking to recruit someone, and I was still looking for work myself. We avoided the subject for the first few drinks, and after the third drink one of us floated the idea of me coming to work for the family business…we were both a little sceptical as to whether we could actually work together without constant argument or worse, but agreed to give it a go for 6 months and then have a family meeting to decide whether or not it was a good idea…we never got around to having that meeting!
Why it’s Useful to Know More than One Sarah Williams
I am actually a Multilingual Matters’ reject! On a snowy spring day in 2001 I arrived for what turned out to be my first interview with Marjukka, Ken and Mike. I felt I had made a good impression but was concerned that my lack of a coat (it was April and I had a suit jacket?? 😃) and bus timetable may have counted against me! I was disappointed to learn that I’d narrowly missed out on the job. This left me to carry on at my government office job. I also moved house and changed telephone number shortly afterwards.
In the summer of 2002 MM/CVP had another opening but no way of getting in contact with me. Around this time I bumped into the other Sarah Williams from the government office in the supermarket (she lived on the same road, had the same middle name and her sister was also called Catherine). She told me that some place ‘possibly beginning with M’ were trying to get hold of me about a job. I called the MM office, spoke to Marjukka and the rest is history! 😃
I have always loved books, so a career in publishing should have been an obvious choice. However, in idiotic early-20s fashion I thought it was a bit of a cliché for someone with an English degree and so I loftily avoided all the publishers at the university careers fair (I have no idea what else I imagined I might do!) I met my partner at University and as he was staying on do a PhD, my main concern was to find a job that allowed me to stay in Bristol. Being utterly unqualified for and uninterested in the main Bristol industries of finance and engineering, I applied for every job in the local paper that I thought might have me, including training as a librarian at UWE and setting the crosswords for the Bristol Evening Post. One of those jobs, and in fact the only one to even ask me for interview, was journal editorial assistant at Multilingual Matters. I made my way out to Clevedon on the bus, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Coming from a very rural area, options for graduate level work experience were severely limited, and I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do when I left university. One day, I was sitting in the university library completing the references section on an essay, when the place Clevedon caught my eye. I had a feeling that Clevedon might be near Bristol, just about a commutable distance from my home. I looked up the company Multilingual Matters and promptly wrote to Tommi, asking if there were any work experience possibilities. I was immediately (and politely!) turned down flat – the company was too small and they didn’t need any extra help. A couple of months later, out of the blue came another email saying that they’d reconsidered and might be willing to have an intern. Naturally, I jumped at the chance and spent 2 months over the summer doing the work experience, as well as commuting 4 hours each day to get there and working evenings and weekends in a pub! I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the office, learnt a great deal and headed back to university with an interest in publishing and new skills, but also the knowledge that my placement wouldn’t lead to employment as the company was too small. The following February, as I was back in the library, another email from Tommi popped up. This one had the title “An Enquiry” which I thought sounded quite ominous and deduced that they were trying to sort out some mistake I’d made back in the summer! Luckily for me it contained a job offer, which I didn’t need to think long about accepting. I went down to the lobby to call my mum and stood next to the machine where users return books. On top of the stack of returned books was one of ours, Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, which I’ve always thought as a very strange but good sign!
I had just graduated with a degree in French and Russian and not quite knowing what to do with myself, I decided to move to France. I found a job teaching English to adults, got a CELTA qualification and lived there for two years. But I missed Bristol and eventually started to think about coming home and what I could do once I got there. Although I had enjoyed it, teaching wasn’t quite the right fit for me, so I began to think of other options – casting around for ideas, publishing was something I kept coming back to. Once back in Bristol, I did some work experience with a literary agent, but I was doubtful that there would be many opportunities in publishing for me in my hometown, having heard that ‘all publishing was in London’. Then one day my mum, an avid Googler, came across Channel View’s website. I sent Tommi a speculative email, not knowing that there did actually happen to be a (rare!) vacancy for an internship at exactly that time. To my surprise and delight, I was invited to come in for an interview and a couple of days later I was in the supermarket when I got an email offering me the internship. That was over three years ago now – time has flown!
I graduated from the University of Bristol just over two years ago, with a degree in History. Following my graduation I decided that I couldn’t leave lovely Bristol so stuck around and considered what I’d like to do job-wise. I had publishing in mind but couldn’t find anything that suited, so for the first year I tried a few different odd jobs – working in a pet shop, as well as for The Green Register (a not-for-profit organisation who promote sustainable building) and volunteering for a number of charities, before finally moving to London to give marketing a try. After a 3 month internship I headed off to India and then came back to Bristol with a fresh head. This time I was lucky – in my search for academic publishing roles I came across Multilingual Matters… I applied and got the position! I was particularly drawn to the small size of the company and the topics of publication, as I’d just begun a TEFL course. First impressions told me I’d come to the right place, with lots of quirky questions, tea, biscuits and entertaining playlists.
Every year we attend the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, which we’ve mentioned in numerous blog posts in the past. The book fair always follows the same format with meetings often with the same people and in the same regular time-slots. It often feels like déjà vu and all that changes each year is the books we present and everyone looking slightly older than last year! Even the halls look exactly as the year before, as publishers usually take the same stands in the same halls.
One thing that we always struggle to do is describe to people who’ve never attended the fair exactly what these halls are like and just how big and busy the fair is. In numbers, the fair welcomes over 7,000 publishers and over a quarter of a million visitors, but it’s hard even from those figures to quite grasp its size. Only when you are hurrying from meeting to meeting down aisles and aisles of stands do you really get a feel for it!
This year we had the brainwave of making a video to show the sheer scale of the fair to those who’ve never attended. Tommi and I spent every spare moment between meetings and the quieter weekend days filming the aisles of the book fair to try and capture what it is like. We reckon that we walked over 15km within the fair and edited nearly 3 hours of footage to create a snapshot of it! If you’re interested, the resultant video can be found on our YouTube channel here.
The nights are drawing in and autumn has officially arrived, but before we say goodbye to summer altogether, here’s a look back at what the CVP/MM team each got up to on their summer holidays…
I spent a month in Finland and spent most of that time offline, especially wonderful in places like this where I could be on my own and not even see other hikers, and enjoy the quiet and the mysterious sounds of nature…
This photo was taken late in the evening in Spain, when it was still over 30 degrees. By day we found it too hot to do anything but swim and read – a perfect way to spend a week and I came back feeling completely relaxed!
I return to my hometown of Dawlish every year for carnival week and during a walk this year I found the perfect road name nearby! Sadly I think houses on this road might be out of my price range!
This summer I’ve been making the most of the ‘glorious’ British weather by heading out on a number of camping trips. My favourite one involved borrowing a campervan and driving down to Megavissey in Cornwall, where I swam in the sea and ate lots of pasties!
Here’s a photo of me bodyboarding with my elder daughter Alys in the (very cold) sea in Pembrokeshire.
I went to Lisbon for my holiday this year, where I spent most of my time exploring the narrow streets of the historic quarter and eating Portuguese custard tarts. Here’s a picture of me taken just before sunset at the Castelo de São Jorge, which sits on top of a hill and offers one of the best views of the city.
With the recent publication of the 6th edition of Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, we hit a real milestone and published our 1000th book since the company began. In this post, Tommi reflects on the last 35 years leading up to this point and discusses how the company and wider world of publishing has changed over time.
At the recent AAAL conference in Portland, OR, we celebrated the publication of our 1000th book, the 6th edition of Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, co-authored by Colin Baker and Wayne E. Wright. Since I remember the publication of our very first book in 1982, Bilingualism: Basic Principles by Hugo Baetens-Beardsmore, this led me to reflect a little on what has changed at Channel View Publications/Multilingual Matters (CVP/MM), in the world of academic publishing, and attitudes to bilingualism since then.
Many of you will know that CVP/MM is a family business, founded originally by my parents in response to being told by our family doctor not to speak Finnish to my brother and me, stating that “they didn’t know what damage they were doing”. Fortunately, being a formidable combination of a stubborn Finnish mother and an entrepreneurial Essex-man father, they not only refused to take such unwelcome advice, they took it as an opportunity to find and publish world-class research focusing on the many positive benefits of bilingualism. Although we now publish in a very wide range of topics – including applied linguistics and sociolinguistics, educational research, language disorders and translation studies under our Multilingual Matters imprint and, under our other imprint Channel View Publications, tourism studies – language rights and positive attitudes to bi- and multilingualism remain at the heart of what we do. We believe that no mother or father should ever be told not to speak the language of their heart to their children without extremely well-informed reasons for doing so.
Although in many cases attitudes towards bilingualism may have switched towards the more positive and even aspirational, this is often only the case if the languages you speak are privileged western languages, and in many cases only if you are of the majority population. It is fine and admirable to learn Spanish or Arabic if you are white, but society might be less positive about you retaining your Spanish or Arabic if you are an immigrant. There is still much work to do in changing attitudes towards languages where these languages are associated with immigration or are minority indigenous languages.
Some of my first memories include sitting under our dining room table, “helping” my parents stick the mailing labels onto envelopes that would carry our first catalogues out into the world. Among the many addresses we sent catalogues to, 252 Bloor Street West stuck in my mind. As a 6 year old child I struggled to understand how so many people lived in this one house! In the years since then I have come to know the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) well, and have got to know the very many authors and friends who are based there. We no longer pack and mail our catalogues ourselves, this is one of those tasks that computers and automation have simplified, but as the editor of my local orienteering club newsletter I have to pack and mail all the copies to our members, so I like to think that I have retained those valuable skills!
In 1982 we were already using computers for journal subscription processing, but all correspondence with authors and editors was by mail. We used to do so much mailing back and forth that the local post office gave us our own postcode! All of our records were kept in large filing cabinets and a system of racks, T-cards and folders would track the process of book and journal manuscripts from initial proposal to published book. Sales reports from our distributor would be couriered once a month to us in a large box, and even as recently as the late 1990s we would wait with excitement to go through the monthly sales reports and see how well our books had been selling. These days everything we do is reliant on computers, the internet and data. We only have to log in to our distributors’ reporting sites to get the sales figures from the day before, and we can communicate easily even while travelling. This availability of data and immediacy of communication brings with it a new set of demands and challenges. There is a sense that we must respond to everything as quickly as possible and that we absolutely have to know how many books were sold in the last 24 hours. A lot of time is taken up by responding to queries that in the past would have waited for a single letter, and of course we put the same pressures on to other people.
In the early days of our company the only reliable way to purchase books was via the bookshop, or to put a cheque in the post with an order form from our catalogue. These days the rise of companies like Amazon, Books etc. and the Book Depository, as well as our own website, means that wherever you are you should be able to order a print copy of our books and have it posted to you quickly. If you choose to purchase an ebook, you can place an order now and have the full text, even in some cases with embedded video files and links to relevant websites and resources, delivered direct to your computer, tablet or reading device within seconds.
Libraries are able to buy one multi-user license of a digital book, which does not degrade with age and usage, and are able to share this with multiple users of the library, even off-site users of the library, at the same time. Shelf space is making way for more computer spaces and learning environments, and university campuses are changing accordingly. Of course the downside of this is that the number of copies required to service the same population has fallen, and so in general across the publishing industry we have seen the total number of sales of any one academic title fall quite dramatically in the past 10 years or so. Since the majority of overhead and fixed costs of publication have not fallen, this means that book prices have risen much faster than inflation in order to cover those costs.
While it is interesting to look at what has changed, it is also very instructive to consider what has stayed constant over all this time. Digital technology and distribution has meant that the barriers to entry into the publishing industry have fallen dramatically. In a world where anyone can write, typeset and publish a book relatively quickly, easily and inexpensively, the role of the publisher in providing a measure of review, revision and quality control is just as important as it was in 1982. It is arguably even more important now, given the recent attention to fake news stories and alternative facts. CVP/MM has always believed in reviewing manuscripts thoroughly and as transparently as possible, and while peer-review is not a flawless system, it is a vitally important step in ensuring that the books we publish can be trusted by students, researchers, parents and policy-makers.
We continue to grow as a business, this year we will publish 60 titles across all of the various subject areas, where just 10 years ago we would schedule 30 titles. But we remain a small and friendly operation with approachable staff. We have fostered an atmosphere where we can thrive and grow within our jobs, and so our staff turnover is extremely low. It is highly likely that you will deal with the same people through the life of your book project, if not your whole career! You will have seen me at every AAAL for the past 19 years, but you may not be aware that Sarah and Anna will this year celebrate their 15th anniversary of working for Multilingual Matters, and Elinor and Laura are not that far behind. Our most recent full time colleague, Flo, already feels like part of the family, and our intern, Alice, reflects the values that we all share.
Although my father, Mike, is no longer around to see the progress we have made since he and my mother, Marjukka, retired, he would still recognise everything that we do and be proud of how we have continued to build on what they started 1000 books ago. We would not have been able to publish 1000 books if it wasn’t for the many authors, series editors, reviewers and readers who have contributed in so many different ways. There are too many to name here, but I hope you know just how important you are to us. It has been a pleasure to work with you all and I hope that you will continue to partner with us, to work with us and to hold us to account when we do occasionally get things wrong, so that as we go on to publish books together we can all grow and improve, and look back on the next 1000 books with just as much pride!