Monday 30 April 2007

It's always tempting in the first post of the week . . .

to reference the fact that it's Monday. But not this time.

If anyone is anywhere near a Borders or Books Etc. over the next month they might want to have a look at their Best of the Independents where Narcissus and Goldmund has a decent spot. One of our editors was talking to an accountant (or was it an estate agent?) the other day who'd just bought the new edition and recognized the P.O.P. name because of it- first time we'd heard that happen with a Bona Fide Member of the General Public.

Also, if anyone is in India they might want to look out for our books there - we've just started exporting properly over there.

There's a nice note about us, and more specifically, Anna Kavan from a fellow publisher's blog today. The uber-impressive indie: Salt .

And for the many (perhaps increasing?) Kavan fans out there there will be some exciting news. Can't say more for fear of causing confusion.

Wednesday 25 April 2007

A silent blog is rather like an untended garden

Rather silent over the past couple of weeks, the LBF excuse must be beginning wear thin. Piece on that coming soon.

Couple of things
Two weeks ago the Big Issue came out with a well written piece on Loving Mephistopheles

And yesterday in the Guardian, one Michele Hanson said at the bottom of a piece calling for garden thieves to be clamped in the stocks (mixed metaphor?) that she read The Man Who Planted Trees

'This week Michele read The Man Who Planted Trees, by Jean Giono: "A solitary French peasant planted thousands of acorns, grew a forest and revived a great tract of France, all by himself. Inspiring. If he can do it, so can we."',,2064233,00.html

Tuesday 17 April 2007

London Book Fair

'tis the London Book Fair which means lots of standing around, talking to important people for too short a time and getting lost in that way only possible in a large open plan hall full of signs, maps and people offering directions.

Somewhere in there they were announcing a new book promotion to be placed in the Guardian: 50 books that defined decades. We had a very enjoyable time in the office discussing which of our books we could offer to the judging panel - unfortunately for us it would seem that they were going for a more British/American angle, there being two books in translation on the entire list, whereas almost all of our nominations were translated. A good list nevertheless.

Friday 13 April 2007


A great first feature on Alfred Douglas in the Daily Express today.

Also, for those who dabble in the art of the lead pencil, there's a lovely piece on Mervyn Peake by his son Sebastian in the monthly magazine for illustrators - intuitively named 'Illustration'.

There's always somthing in the Bookseller to rant about

A very successful publisher talking about his new crime list:

'If Dickens were alive today, he'd be a crime writer'


Thursday 12 April 2007

A shiny new arrival

Shiny being the salient detail, a fine and rather luminous shade of green for our new edition of Confessions of a Mask. The box they arrived in suspiciously resembling plutonium before revealing its more benign contents. We're getting incresingly proud of our new styled modern classics series, they look fantastic together on a bookshelf. Not to mention being great great reads of course.

This new edition contains an original foreword from Paul Binding who sets the book nicely in context before revealing his personal connection to the work. Advance orders are great for it so we'll cross our fingers.

An interesting review of a new book by Richard Bradford who has writtne biographies of Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis for P.O.P. and has some more exciting projects for us up his sleeve.

Tuesday 10 April 2007

Happy Easter

We hope that everyone had a good Easter break and have returned renovated and renewed. BNO1 spent his reading From Winchester to This by Willie Donaldson, a tranche of irreverance only balanced out by a revisiting of Silence by Shusaku Endo, because 'twas the season.
This week will be spent preparing for the London Book Fair where everyone who's anyone in books is going to be. Fortunately, due to the proximity of our office, we'll be able to run in and out, advise on reataurants and pubs and generally strut around with the confidence of locals. If anyone is there and wants to meet up, drop us a line!


We ackowledge the very generous grant from the Institut Ramon Llull for the translation of The Enormity of the Tragedy by Quim Monzó

Ken Russell's latest column, plugging his composer's books and revealing how his interest in classical music begun (invloves a Bakerlite bicycle pump)

Wednesday 4 April 2007

This is how it went

'Good Morning/Afternoon,

'I'm calling from Peter Owen Publishers',

'Yes?'/ 'Oh hello!'/hmmm . . .

' aaaand we've got a new catalogue coming out and was wondering who I could address it to?'

'Ah, yes, you can send it to insertnamehere'/'oh just send it to everyone'/ 'you do know we're second hand bookshop don't you?'

'Just out of interest, have you heard of us?'

'Yes! Of course!'/ 'Nooo, I don't think we have'

It was the dichotomy of the last assertion that was most interesting from our point of view, either strongly aware of Peter Owen or completely (Blissfully? ed.) unaware.

not for long . . .

and long live the indies

With the London Bookfair looming large we're all hands at the pump to get our new catalogue out - should be here in plenty of time . . .

and part of the marketing job is of course to find people to send it to. Which would be easy one would have thought, because we keep a list of all the previous mailings and have been adding to them over the years. Especially given that that extra special modern classics catalogue we did last time only came out six months ago. Everything would have to be up to date, no?

No. Seems a couple of files have disappeared, important ones. So we're starting again from scratch. Which is fun, actually, as it means that we get to look for bookshops all over the country once again, and heartening because there are so many of them. Small independent bookshops - they were supposed to be as out of fashion as the Net Book Agreement. It's great to hear that they're not - and as Scott Pack (ex big buyer of Waterstones now at a fascinating new publishing project ) pointed out in his blog recently, increasing their market share.

Doubly heartening becuase of all the doom and gloom we're hearing about chain bookshops recently. Now, large branded bookshops will always be the lifeblood of publishers, especially smaller ones, because of the incredible service that they provide. There is no other high street store that can offer such wealth of choice and potentially different experience after the point of puchase. (does that make sense? Why are you writing like a business student? ed.) A good independent bookshop should be looking to provide (If it hadn't been for me you'd have used the word 'provide' three times by now, buy a thesaurus! ed.) a slightly different service - one tailored to suit the tastes of the owner and needs of their customers. A really good deli rather than a supermaket, I think most people are happy to shop at both?

Anyway,it's a lot of fun phoning all these shops, is the point.

Monday 2 April 2007

Alfred Douglas launch

Thursday the 29th March saw the presentation of our most recent non-fiction title: Alfred Douglas: A Poet's Life and His Finest Work by Caspar Wintermans at a venue that could hardly have been more appropriate.

The Phoenix Arts Club, tucked snugly underneath the Phoenix Theatre is a haven for many from the hustle and bustle of Charing Cross Road and its environs and with good reason. Once inside one is enveloped by the sort of comforting atmosphere that can only be found in a place with a good line in velvet curtains and low lighting. Caspar, whose sense of excitement had been tangible from as far away as the Hague, was charm personified when we met him (for the first time) at the office, and of course later on. He later explained in his short but excellent speech that this publication was the culmination of twenty years work and was extremely special for him.

The general feel of the evening was that of a strange kind of reunion, many of the invitees were people who had helped Caspar with his research over the years - but had never met in person. It was a procession of well dressed Wildeans, and indeed Bosieites wandering into the back room and looking around hopefully before being grabbed by the improbably youthful Caspar and engaged in energetic talk about all things Wilde/Douglas. Special mention should also go to the excellent Blackwells staff who, by virtue of The Phoenix being a regular Blackwells watering hole, were co-opted at the last minute into being the official booksellers of the evening, a role they played with skill and patience.

So, a success all round then! I leave the final words to Caspar himself (from his speech):

'God save our queens'