1 What's your company called?
Rowman & Littlefield International.
2 What do you publish?
Academic books—print and digital, of course—in the fields of philosophy, cultural studies, politics, international relations and economics. They are works of original research, aimed at a worldwide academic audience. We are also publishing some textbooks for upper-level undergraduates. We often take an interdisciplinary approach, looking at issues such as migration and identity across subject boundaries. We also have some great partnerships, including with leading think tanks in London and Brussels, which takes our list into policy and politics.
3 What's the story of the company?
At the end of 2012 a couple of us sat with a blank sheet of paper and the desire to build a company from scratch. It was the first time any of us had started with no authors, no backlist and no office—but we had a sense that we could get things going quite fast. We found a great partner in the shape of the American independent publisher Rowman & Littlefield, and we got started. Since then we have been recruiting authors and projects, insisting on the highest editorial standards, and building partnerships. We published two books in 2013, 40 in 2014, and this year the total will be around 100.
4 How's business?
The nice thing about starting from scratch is that you can soon say that sales are up by 1,000% on last year! Things are building nicely, and we are finding customers on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as in Asia. That said, having gone through a brief period with no books, and therefore no sales, we are back in the habit of anxiously tracking our daily numbers.
5 What do you enjoy about being independent?
The ability to get stuff done, quickly. Our Open Access offering is an example. Plus the fun of building a team of people who are open to trying something new.
6 What is the biggest single issue in publishing right now?
Building an audience and engaging with your community of readers. Easily said, but it takes creativity from a good team of people to execute well.
7 What one piece of advice would you give to a fellow independent just starting out?
I’m torn between technology, team and distinctiveness… but I’ll opt for the latter. It is worth spending time at the outset developing an identity and a shape for your publishing, which authors and readers can identify as special and valuable.
8 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?
The conferences and evening events always leave us buzzing with ideas: IPG members are generous in sharing their triumphs and challenges. It is great that the membership covers so many sectors as there are often lessons to be learned from other parts of the publishing world. And our IPG Independent Publishing Award in 2015 was the icing on the cake: a real boost for our team.Visit the Rowman & Littlefield International website