1 What's your company called?
2 What do you publish?
Academic books and journals in four areas: archaeology, linguistics, popular music and the academic study of religion. On the book side, some of our music and archaeology books have a wider readership but we mostly publish textbooks and monographs with a few single volume reference books.
3 What's the story of the company?
In 2003 I [Janet Joyce] was ready for a change from corporate life and had the money to invest (I wish it had been more, of course). For a short while we tried a merger with another company but we were incompatible so we split up. That was a harsh thing to go through for all parties. We started out in London and are now in Sheffield. I spend half my time in the US as that is our single largest market and author base.
4 How's business?
2016 was a good year because we published almost all the books scheduled (for once), and our journal subscriptions are holding up. I think 2017 will be pretty good too, since we are just launching our ebook platform. We like dealing direct with libraries and our individual customers from our own site. This will be essentially new income for us because several years ago we decided to stop licensing book content to aggregators—we weren’t getting enough out of those arrangements and the reports they sent were hell to decipher.
5 What do you enjoy about being independent?
Getting to see the big picture, being able to choose your colleagues, making gradual improvements, being in it for the long term.
6 What do you think is the biggest single issue in publishing right now?
I would say the technical demands of electronic publishing and the ever-increasing cost of IT in general. It is very hard to keep up with standards and customer expectations and it is so easy for things to go wrong. I accidentally turned off our website last year and it was four days before our IT support could get it back up. It was excruciating and terrifying. I have spent time on the O’Reilly website watching tutorials and trying to determine if I should try to learn to code myself—and the answer is definitely not. Publishers are more and more at the mercy of IT.
7 What one piece of advice would you give to a fellow independent just starting out?
Cash flow is key and it is very easy for it to slip out of control.
8 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?
Representation on issues of importance to our industry, technical information, different points of view and fresh ideas.