No patsy, us... • 5 February 2007 • The SnowBlog

No patsy, us...


Snowbooks is very pleased to be publisher of the week this week over at The Book Depository, one of our favourite independent booksellers.

The Book Depository is an online retailer stocking a wide range of titles, available from their website, or through third-party sales on Amazon - a really great alternative to the giants. I answered a few questions from the managing editor Mark (also of RSB fame) last week, and I thought I'd post them below too, as they may be of interest to Snowblog readers...

Mark also selects his five favourite Snowbooks titles at the end of the interview. Anyone else want to try that in the comments?

The publisher of the week slot has provided some really interesting interviews over time. I'd advise any aspiring authors who are looking for a publisher to read them - there's a full list at the end of the interview - to get a snapshot of each house's taste and style. ***

The Book Depository: What/who do you see as your primary market?

James Bridle (Snowbooks): We really don’t have a particular reader in mind. We publish a really diverse range of books – from mainstream thrillers to avant-garde contemporary literature, from gay memoir to martial arts and fitness guides – that we don’t have a picture in our heads of a single type of Snowbooks reader. However, we do think that everybody can find something in our catalogue to love – for the simple reason that we love them all, and we know we’re not alone...

BD: What are the principal challenges/opportunities you see at the moment in the business of publishing books?

JB: A lot depends where you are as a business, as small publishers like us face a very different set of challenges to the big corporations. However, I think the biggest threat to us all at the moment is oversaturation: people will always want to read, but with up to 10,000 books published every month, it’s getting harder and harder to pick up on the best: there’s a danger that many deserving authors will fall under the radar, and people are losing faith in the ability of publishers to pick the best books.

The counter to that of course is that small publishers can build a reputation for quality books, carefully chosen and produced with care, and attract readers through their taste and consistency as much as through expensive ad campaigns and big-name authors. Snowbooks certainly aspires to such a status.

BD: What brings you to the decision to publish a particular title/author?

JB: Love for the book, over and above everything else. At Snowbooks, we work slightly differently to lots of other publishers: we’re all editors as well as designers, proof-readers, production managers and publicists, and when we pick a book for publication, we know we’re going to be working on it for months, so it had better be really good. The impulse behind that love may differ – a particularly lucid piece of fiction, or a particularly necessary piece of non-fiction, for example – but our prime motivation is personal enjoyment, because we believe that will then be passed on to the reader.

BD: What books are you most proud of having published?

JB: I can’t speak for my colleagues, but personally I am particularly proud of Bruce Benderson’s memoir The Romanian which won the Prix De Flore in France but received very little notice here, although it was mentioned in several newspapers’ end of year reviews. Simon Callow, who I won’t attempt to top, called it “one of the most devastating and unsparing accounts of amour fou I have ever read, providing at the same time an extraordinary glimpse into Romania's past and present.” Likewise, The Edgier Waters, an anthology of new writing that first appeared in 3:AM Magazine, slipped under the critical radar but contained some extraordinary stuff by some really inspiring writers, many of whom I’m sure you’ll be hearing more from before too long.

BD: What books are you working on right now?

JB Out this month is Mark Ames’ biting analysis of office and school shootings in the US, Going Postal, a book that absolutely tears into the modern culture of workplace pressure, harassment and victimisation – and people’s willingness to go along with it. I’m also preparing a number of novels which I can’t wait to hit the bookstores – new books from Steve Aylett (Lint), Stewart Home (Memphis Underground) and exciting debuts from Noah Cicero (The Human War) [the American small press release of which was reviewed over at ReadySteadyBook] and Matthew De Abaitua (The Red Men) – all writers who deserve your attention. I should also put in a special mention for my colleague Gilly’s Deep Hanging Out, Richard Gwyn’s follow-up to the bestselling The Colour of a Dog Running Away, which should be one of the literary sensations of the summer.

The SnowBlog is one of the oldest publishing blogs, started in 2003, and it's been through various content management systems over the years. A 2005 techno-blunder meant we lost the early years, but the archives you're reading now go all the way back to 2005.

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