Non Fiction Book Publishersnon-fiction publishers
Dealing with the financial turmoil in non-fiction publishers | Literature
In the midst of the horror of the printing sector, I would like to make a persuasion. May be the majorstream is getting stupider by the minute, but we live in an era that looks like a gold era for the publishers at universities. I don't think there's a specialist publisher right now that produces high-caliber, reputable books of Yale Universiy Press excellence and diversity; and the best are Harvard, Oxford, Princeton, Cambridge and Chicago.
I am a literature writer for a medium-sized newsmagazine and I find more and more of the comments I order. Where, strangely enough, 15 or 20 years ago the major specialist publishing houses flooded the open air with a kind of scientific micro-history of salts or length, today, with the exception, of course, of certain gnarled, thoroughly investigated and shaded textbooks, they seem to be moving away from things.
Nowadays, the kind of textbooks they depend on are studies of "great ideas". They' re speech diaries. Not surprisingly, the fake novels are not as good as the original ones. There are a host of textbooks that argue that the web is either the response to all our issues or the cause; we have tons of textbooks that tell us about the importance of awareness or oblivion or distraction/safety.
They are not the kind of book that makes our understandings of the realm ever more profound and intricate. They' are lexicons that say that an equity makes economic good for us or tells us why or why people' s society is thriving or failing; that'the contemporary world' has emerged from six different concepts or a historical product or a crucial struggle; they tell us that the keys to living on earth are Y, Z or even Thirteen. The mismatch between the magnitude of the suggested issue and the ease of the supposed response is the main gaff.
At best, they are half serious and disguised as proposals for promotion, and at best, they are proposals for promotion and disguised as half serious. Some of us wondered out loud whether Allen Lane's inner consciousness - the admirablely serious Stuart Proffitt - was still shaking in the stationary cabinet with a gawper band over her lips and the links protected by ropes.
Akademische Pressen still release crummy, absurd, jargon weighty textbooks; and Allen Lane, Bodley Head, Fourth Estate, Picador, Bloomsbury, Profile, Atlantic, Granta and Little, Brown still release great, in story, wildlife, biography and more. I am very rarely enthusiastic about a non-fiction book nowadays, as most of them are on the central track of the same highway, to the extent that I am enthusiastic about the inventive and essential side streets that the college press researches for the general public.
The Cultural of Whales and Dolphins or Brooke Borels Story of the Bug, Infested, or Caitlin O'Connell's novel about elephant Don, or the beautiful novel Plankton? They are all edited by the University of Chicago. The Beth Shapiro novel on the study of the extinct, How to clone a mammoth?
Princeton. Yale - who gave us Sue Prideaux's award-winning Strindberg living a few years ago - silently produced the great Yale Lives show in the film. Her is Stalin's new bio, praised by one critic as "the forefront of scientific understanding of the subject", and her much adored new lease of humanity by Francis Barber, the liberated slaves designated as Dr. Johnson's legacy.
Publishers at universities turn to the general public because the major publishers do not take these kinds of risk. Only when I mentioned this to Toby Mundy, the founder of Atlantic Books, did I get a consistent feeling of why this might be the case.
MUNNDY is the reappointed Samuel Johnson Award Principal; he knows how to work. "That is part of a larger story," he says, "which is a general slump in non-fiction publishers. In the case of printed publications, the more units you run, the lower the costs per copy, and in these periods the vendors are very cautious about the storage risks.
Amazons and Waterstones will just order a small number of copies and only order more when they are exhausted. The preproduction cost of non-fiction - records, photos, indexation and research subsidies - is therefore becoming more and more disproportionate to the probable payments. Much more than that, an ebook - which editors obviously like - is only a very small part of the lives of serious non-fiction.
- Sam Leith is literature journalist for the Spectator and former Samuel Johnson Award Nonfiction-Journalist.