Books, Lit Fests, News, Movies, Art, Fashion and TV of course... "I must say that I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book." - GROUCHO MARX

My Photo

I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Penguin's Loi Zhi Wei breaks this to me almost matter of factly....
"Penguin has just been crowned Publisher of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards, also known as The Nibbles. These are the Oscars of the British publishing business - and the verdict of the judges was unanimous and resounding. It was a collective triumph for all our UK publishers - Penguin, DK and Travel - and caps a remarkable year. Simon Prosser and Hamish Hamilton jointly won Editor and Imprint of the Year and, to round off a great night, we were voted the Marketing Campaign of the Year for Freakonomics."

I'm delighted and certainly not surprised. Penguin has a solid team backing its books in this part of the world. And so many of their books are simply great. Their logo may have gone from fat to slim, but that hasn't hit the quality of the product which simply keeps getting better.

Though it's one thing to represent great books, great authors, outstanding publishers quite another to generate interest in the titles. Take a look at the number of books that get released everyday. They grapple for shelf space, blog space, print space and air time. Having spent a couple of months in the book trade, I know for a fact that dealing with the sheer range of titles is mind-blogging as well as challenging. A great book store manager, quite like a good editor, has the knack for picking the lead, the best titles, the one's with the maximum content. They are the ones who scour through the pages of the Publishers Weekly, Guardian, The New York Times and everything else that has a credible reputation when it comes to all things literary.

That's pretty much what great publicists do as well. And I've the fortune of working with so many of them in the past two and a half years. Zhi Wei, in fact, was one of my first contacts when I was sending out random emails on the proposed launch of Off The Shelf. She responded, we met for coffee, she brought a whole lot of brochures and some titles. I thought I'd get snowed, but I wasn't. Over the course of the afternoon, we were engaging in discussions about books that had moved, books we were looking forward to, authors whose work we'd come to love. And it was amazing to see someone in the trade driven by so much passion for the written word. We've covered and strengthened that middle ground over the years.

I've had similar experiences with Sadie-Jane of Pansing, Pamela Fahey (who has now branched out on her own), Aria Ting of Marshall-Cavendish and Yani, formerly of MPH.

Each of them know their product. They have their pulse on the market. They know exactly how much to push. Too much and you risk losing it, too little and chances are the title might go unnoticed.

They do their reading. Their releases are a treasure trove of information and invariably give you something more than the standard google search. More than all of that, they feel for their books and they always like to go unnoticed. Not anymore....

Labels: , , ,