1 What's your company called?
2 What do you publish?
Christian books and resources for every stage of life.
3 What's the story of the company?
We were started by the Redemptorists, a Catholic congregation of priests, over 60 years ago. The Redemptorist mission is to share the Gospel in everyday language to those on the margins of society—this is something that we proudly continue to this day. We started out publishing sheets for Sunday readings, and now send out more than 10 million sheets a year. Of course we publish books now too. In addition to those focusing on the sacraments we produce diaries and planners for faith schools, liturgical resources, kids’ books, pastoral support titles and seasonal reflections.
We are based in Chawton, a beautiful village in Hampshire, and have on-site warehousing, which enables us to also work as a distributor for lots of other Christian publishers from the UK and North America. We are a registered charity and the profits we make allow us to support the work of the Redemptorists in the UK and Zimbabwe.
4 How's business?
Our biggest individual customer group is the Catholic parish priest, and their numbers are in decline, as is overall church attendance, so we are experiencing a slightly different market than other independent publishers. For us it isn’t simply about turnover: we are looking to produce resources that support the Church, whether that be the busy parish priest, teacher, lay person or someone who is exploring their faith. Working with schools has been a privilege and an area than has grown for us significantly over the last decade.
5 What do you enjoy about being independent?
We are able to take on projects as part of our charitable mission; books that we know will not make a profit for us but that we view as important. This year we published a programme, Because I Am, for parents who find out whilst pregnant that their baby will have a disability or not survive long after birth. It’s great to be able to publish something based on the great difference it will make to a small number rather than the small difference it will make to a great number.
6 What do you think is the biggest single issue in publishing right now?
For us it is the decline of our key demographic. Overall I think it’s the continued pressure on our margins, as people demand lower prices while a lot of our costs increase.
7 What one piece of advice would you give to a fellow independent just starting out?
Know who you are. Have a mission—it might not be quite like ours, but it needs to be more than simply ‘make nice books’. It will be the heart of your business, the thing that gets you through the tough days, the way you’ll get staff invested and committed, the thing that will keep you realistic but also make you a dreamer.
8 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?
Discounts! But also a great community that is full of people who see you as comrades, not competition. We only joined last year and I have to say we will be continuing our membership. We exhibited on the joint IPG stand at the London Book Fair this year, which was a brilliant way for us to get there and have our name in the directory for a very reasonable price. Personally, I [Giselle Beaumont] have been on the mentoring scheme and have benefitted from the wisdom and sage advice of someone who knows so much more than me as a first-timer in publishing.