1 What's your company called?
We are Peter Lang Ltd, the UK and Ireland division of the Swiss-based international academic publisher Peter Lang. The group has five independent publishing companies in Switzerland, the UK, Germany, the US and Belgium.
2 What do you publish?
We publish a full range of research monographs and collected editions in the humanities and social sciences, as well as textbooks for the higher education market and conference proceedings in both print and digital formats.
3 What's the story of the company?
Peter Lang, who founded the group, came from a family of renowned Swiss booksellers and publishers. He learned the technical side of publishing in his father’s firm before founding his own company. His vision was to build small, agile publishing units in university centres that would be in close contact with academics and could respond flexibly to their publishing needs by being able to address regional and cultural differences. Today the company that carries his name has bases in Frankfurt, Bern, New York, Oxford and Brussels. They are supported by editorial offices in other countries, the latest of which was established in Istanbul in 2015.
4 How's business?
We are lucky to be part of a company that has invested significantly in a new ERP system, website, and similarity check software among other projects. This means we can focus on what we do best—developing a high quality publishing list and the production of print and digital content—with the benefit of a strong database and web presence that supports our customer relationship management.
5 What do you enjoy about being independent?
We act as an autonomous unit in terms of our daily business and decision-making. We benefit from being part of a larger, global structure but are empowered to plan and deliver as a team without the overly bureaucratic and stifling layers of management that are sometimes present elsewhere. We have been able to shape our list in the UK and Ireland according to regional academic needs—publishing in a very quick and timely way in an REF year, for example.
6 What do you think is the biggest single issue in publishing right now?
One of the biggest issues we face is the movement towards Open Access as a model in monograph publishing, and the different international drivers in place across all the locations in which we commission content. We have partnered with OAPEN (Open Access Publishing in European Networks) on our OA content, and embrace the idea of making scholarly content widely available. We are excited by, and responsive to, developments in OA publishing.
7 What one piece of advice would you give to a fellow independent just starting out?
Know your markets, and know what you are offering. If you are niche, then celebrate that niche. UK publishing is a highly competitive arena, but there is room for the Indies who often have Schumpeter’s Small is Beautiful on their side when it comes to author relationships, for example.
8 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?
The IPG is a wonderful custodian of knowledge and training, and we have found the conferences particularly useful in this respect. It feels good to belong to a distinct community of fellow publishers on whom you can call for advice and information, or just share experiences.Visit the Peter Lang website