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Posts Tagged ‘Faber & Faber’

Bringing Faber into the 21st Century

the Guardian’s Jane Martinson profiles Stephen Page, chief executive of the venerable independent publishing house Faber & Faber. The former sales & marketing director for various trade publishers like HarperCollins and Transworld is credited with bringing the “house that TS Eliot built” into the modern age with good reason, changing the packaging of the books for the first time in 20 years, a cause of much harrumphing in the shelving, as well as announcing a move into fast-selling general non-fiction and children’s stories at a company renowned for its drama and poetry. But Page believes any sense of surprise is based on misunderstanding commercial concerns.

He’s also skeptical about where technology fits with the book industry. “I am yet to be convinced that the technology is available to replace books. They are flexible, affordable, beautiful, lovable and seductive.” Yet he recognizes that the industry is still trying to find its way through a fast-changing world. “How do we make money online? We’re all trying to work that out.” But what he won’t have to work out is his own future plans, no matter how tempting the offers may be at other houses. “Faber suits me personally. It’s very satisfying, nourishing even. It’s like breathing.”

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UK Publishing Sea Change Reflections

To say that the publishing industry is in a time of flux is a severe understatement, of course. But various insiders are having their say about key issues as they affect the British market. Faber & Faber‘s Stephen Page marked World Book Day over the weekend with a call-to-arms in the Guardian Review about how crucial the editor-writer relationship is even in our digital times. “Publishers are a bridge between the market and writers,” says Page, “while providing an expert route to creating economic value in the work (ie the author’s work is rewarded), they can also act as a sustaining and supporting partner.” It may be “old-fashioned or romantic,” and certainly subjective, but Page makes the important point that the tide against narrower markets and bestseller cravings can be counteracted – at least somewhat.

Meanwhile, Publishing News reported on Gerry Johnson’s speech at the Retail Week conference about how publishers, and especially booksellers, have to keep up else they suffer the same fate as the music industry. “There will be a tipping point [after which] the market will change beyond all recognition within six months,” Johnson said. “People have strong perceptions of what a bookshop should look like. We have got slightly out of step with what consumers expect.” But former Waterstone’s buyer (and current editor at The Friday Project) Scott Pack argues otherwise after pointing out the biggest difference between audio and books: “Each stage of the audio revolution has been about making music smaller and more portable; but books are already portable.” Instead, Pack believes digital media will have a dramatic impact on certain areas of publishing and reading, including travel guides, cookbooks and “hefty volumes of history and biography,” in the next couple of years.