1 What's your company called?
2 What do you publish?
English-Mandarin bilingual story picture books for children.
3 What's the story of the company?
Snowflake was set up in 2010 by Su Yen Hu, originally from Taiwan. Su Yen was inspired by Britain’s passion for cultural heritage and open-mindedness to other cultures, and started to focus on publishing children’s story picture books to introduce the Chinese culture with traditional legends, fairy tales and fables accompanied by beautiful illustrations. Based in Oxford, which is very receptive to new ideas, we are trying to introduce a foreign culture to children and the general public.
Our team is based both in the UK and in Taiwan. We always tell our readers that our stories can be read just as English children’s stories without knowing the Chinese language or the culture. Our artists hand make designs and paintings based on the stories to include authentic Chinese cultural elements, and sometimes a book such as The New Year Beast can take one artist a year to complete. We are inspired to make books that are collectable and approachable and that can last forever. We want our books to be highly educational but not boring: full of information and details to discover, like Alice In Wonderland. Although the stories appear simple, they have profound insights into human nature.
4 How's business?
Our team has been expanding, and we see sales gradually growing up through distributors and our own online bookshop. We are actively seeking collaboration with museums, schools and libraries to bring culture and language alive and be part of children’s growing-up, and run workshops to build our brand and boost sales.
5 What do you enjoy about being independent?
A lot of traditional culture, values, buildings and stories have been lost in mainland China. But people are still deeply influenced by traditional customs, perhaps without being consciously aware of it, and In Taiwan many of the traditions have been preserved. We see what we are trying to do independently as part of a cultural renaissance for both China and the UK, and there are abundant opportunities for that here. British people welcome different ideas, while in China many subjects and topics are still tightly screened and censored. Sometimes the traditional Chinese culture can be branded as superstition and banned from being published. Oxford’s creative and free environment helps us to be independent and produce our beautiful books.
6 What do you think is the biggest single issue in publishing right now?
For smaller independent publishers, it is how to maximize sales and branding while accepting the high cost of making and producing the finest quality books.
7 What one piece of advice would you give to a fellow independent just starting out?
The publishing industry in the UK is highly competitive, but we have still been able to make our way in it. For anyone who wants to develop their ideas in the publishing world, our advice would be to listen to your heart and not be too easily influenced by others—but to keep sufficient flexibility to adapt quickly to new directions and avenues.
8 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?
We have just joined the IPG and are looking forward to valuable sharing of experiences, advice, support and information from one of the most creative and knowledgeable communities in the UK.