Stirling Publishing

Between the Caribbean and the U.K.

December 11th, 2017 by Lucie Santos | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Between the Caribbean and the U.K.
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“Create tastes rather than following them” Jeremy Poynting

The best part of being a small and independent publishing company based in Leeds with a special interest in poems and Caribbean literature is that they can create taste instead of following trends.

Jeremy Poynting introduced a poetry small press: the Peepal Tree Press where two people are involved in full-time supported by six part-time helpers. Their aim is to encourage the authors and work with professionals in order to have the books in the hands of the consumer. This is why, currently, they publish fiction, poetry and general academic titles. The key point is to encourage books to be accessible to a more general reader. They publish writing directly from the Caribbean and this makes them actually the biggest publishing house in the United Kingdom for Caribbean literature. They operate because books should make a difference and take part of a dialogue about society as they think the process of working with authors is important and they can afford to take their time.

Because they are helped with funds from the Arts Council, they do not need to be market oriented. One of the objectives is to have “Great Art for everyone”: they do not only publish books but they are involved in social media events and one important part of a cultural company is the connection with people. The objectives are different than a big publishing house; they cannot have economy of scale but they try to keep the backlist alive.

So, one huge value brought by an independent publisher is the capacity of doing new things even if the audience is limited for a poet. Besides, because they are outside of London, they can develop a very international target market. They want to bring international writing into the country and to print diversity literary travel.

The story began in a garage and crossed the sea to the Caribbean

The objective is not only selling books in the U.K. but also selling books in the Caribbean because they want to nurture the roots from which they are coming from. The Caribbean’s literature is an essential part of British and Scottish culture.

Why is the area producing a Nobel Prize but does not have a publishing industry developed?

Shivanee Ramlochan explains “It is really difficult to be published in the Caribbean”. It is hard to get recognition of your work, and even harder if you write poetry because poetry is not old in the Caribbean. She is a poet from Trinidad and she wants to learn publishing skills from manuscript to print books and eBooks. Now she would like to teach others back to the Caribbean.

The publishing sector in the Caribbean is focused only on two parts of the market: university presses and professional but not fiction. Moreover the market size is very little and the number of booksellers is very small. There are few proper bookstores, the products are more focused on Christian books and schoolbooks.

The publishing sector is living through history of colonialism and there are a few people interested in Jamaican books; in Grenada for instance. There is no distributor in the Caribbean and it is difficult to reach every single island coming from the others. They transit through Miami to go to others islands and there are no direct flights.

But Shivanee Ramlochan shows us that it is not impossible to write poetry and to be published.

“Books should make a difference and be part of a dialogue.” Jeremy Poynting

So what about discovering poetry from Caribbean ? It is also a way for us to remember all the links we have with the Caribbean people. They are part of European history, indeed not the easiest part we’d like to face.

By Lucie Santos

Visiting Speaker: Peter Dennis of Hodder Gibson

October 26th, 2016 by amandasarahbain | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker: Peter Dennis of Hodder Gibson
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Mention the name Hodder Gibson to anyone who was educated in Scotland and there are immediate flashbacks to countless hours spent revising with their past papers. So when Peter Dennis, Managing Director at Hodder Gibson arrived on Thursday afternoon, it was like a blast from the past for many of us.

Hodder Gibson is a small educational publisher based in Paisley, Scotland. Their editorial office consists of a small team which strives to keep up-t0-date with the market, by forming close working relationships with students, teachers and the SQA (with whom it exclusively publishes the official past papers for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher). Peter Dennis described educational publishing as an easily defined market, which is less of a gamble than traditional trade publishing, thanks in part to the SQA who publish exact lists of student numbers, however as it is a small market, it is important to get in first if you want to turn a profit.

For Hodder Gibson, their relationship with the SQA is mutually beneficial. The endorsement by the SQA permits Hodder Gibson to use the official SQA badge on the cover of their educational texts, resulting in increased sales for them and revenue for the SQA. However, due the growth of digital platforms and the availability of past papers online for free, Hodder Gibson have had to change their strategy in order to protect their income. Dennis described revision textbooks as an “anxiety” purchase and therefore it is no surprise that Hodder Gibson have expanded their range of products into practice papers and revision textbooks, thus competing with publishers such as Leckie & Leckie and Bright Red.

Like most educational Publishers, Hodder Gibson’s target market are school pupils in S3-S6, who have the required fear of examinations and suffering from the subsequent panic, want to buy revision materials. According to Dennis, teenagers who are desperate to get into their chosen university make up the majority of Hodder Gibson’s customers. There are currently 364 secondary schools in Scotland and Dennis himself believes that good relationships with schools are always good for business. Although Hodder Gibson sell direct to their customers via their website, the majority of their sales come through high street retailers (discounted at 40%). Dennis describes this discount as “too much of a sacrifice” and therefore the publisher is now attempting to generate the majority of its sales directly via schools (discounted at 20%). For Dennis and his team, price is important and it has to be right for Hodder Gibson and its competition.

Although sales are vital for Hodder Gibson, much of the publisher’s work goes into the creation of their texts. Dennis described commissioning as “begging, pleading and bullying” both experienced teachers and those who are newly qualified (exploitable) and eager to prove themselves, to create content for revision textbooks. For educational publishers creating content can be difficult due to the tight timescale and limited budget to pay busy authors. Dennis himself recounted sending sarcastic emails to authors who have missed deadlines, only to discover one author was about to give birth and the other was in ICU (he was bored and finished writing from his hospital bed)! Following the creation of content the majority of the editing and design process is done by freelancers in order to save money and because as Dennis himself describes, the job of a copyright researching is a very boring, “Sisyphean” effort. Printing can often be done abroad for a fraction of the price if publishers factor in the additional time needed for shipping.

Hodder Gibson is incredibly aware of the evolution of the digital market. Today’s students want options and it’s important for publishers to move with their market. Dennis believes that students are “suffering” in schools without Wi-Fi, given the social media landscape in which students find themselves. Hodder Gibson don’t want to just reproduce their print content in a digital format because students may not pay for it and the demand changes from subject to subject. Dennis firmly believes that the future of educational publishing is digital, so it’s no surprise that Hodder Gibson are striving, as always, to stay ahead of the market.

by Amanda Sarah Bain

Arundati Dandapani, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2011-12

October 6th, 2011 by Arundati_Dandapani | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Arundati Dandapani, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2011-12
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I hail from India, and hold a bachelor’s degree in English with minors in political science and writing from USA. I have interned in Washington DC, and worked in New Delhi and Mumbai for nearly four years. An MLitt in Publishing Studies seemed like the inevitable next step for someone who is not just interested in long copy, short copy or sales, but has a ghoulish appetite for the book as a commodity. What I love about University of Stirling’s Publishing Studies program are its integrated course modules, hands-on publishing projects, market research experiences, specialized IT workshops as well as the exposure to distinguished speakers and industry insiders. The diverse classroom @stirpublishing offers several opportunities to battle off different viewpoints and attitudes to book technology, media, and the business of publishing across a broad spectrum of cultures. I hope to gain significant work experience in the Publishing World before I open up my own little publishing house one day. In my spare time, I consult at a phone retail bookstore, blog about books and can be tracked in the classroom on Twitter. Other loves include long distance swims and fragrant foods. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn !