1 What's your company called?
General Products Ltd, which is a tribute to the great science fiction author Larry Niven. In his fictional Known Space universe, General Products is a company which produces various spacecraft components. The most famous (and most profitable) items it produced are General Products hulls, which are advertised as being impervious to anything apart from visible light (as defined by wavelengths visible to any of the species which are customers of General Products), antimatter, and gravity. We've named our venture in tribute to this fictional company that created such things of wonder, technical brilliance and utility.
2 What services or products do you offer?
Bibliocloud.com, my pride and joy. It's a cloud-based publishing management system. It integrates very well with other systems so we do a lot of integration work, too, with supplier and e-commerce systems. Our favourite is Canadian platform Shopify.
3 How can you help IPG members?
If you're small, and you hope to have enough time and energy for the creative process, you just have to get organised. Who goes into publishing to spend hours typing the same data into endless spreadsheets and web forms? No-one is happy if royalties are late. Getting in order your metadata, contracts, rights, production, scheduling, royalties, marketing—the whole business of publishing—means you've got the time to create and sell more books. I should know: I've been running Snowbooks since I co-founded it in 2003. Smaller publishers have to be far more competent than our larger, fatter colleagues, where inefficiencies can be more easily absorbed.
On a less philosophical note, as soon as you've implemented Bibliocloud you can produce all your AIs and catalogues in one go, send data to anyone in whatever format they need, and take control of your publishing programme by using Bibliocloud's acquisition tools. It's instant liberation from spreadsheet hell.
4 What do you enjoy about working in publishing?
That it matters.
5 What do you think is the single biggest opportunity and the single biggest threat for independent publishers right now?
The biggest threat is Amazon. They're after total vertical integration: owning everything from the author relationship all the way through to the device that people read on. And so the biggest opportunity is to carve out a really amazing place for ourselves on the web, to own our relationships with our readers and give our authors something to be proud of. We're very keen on making lots of beautiful Shopify e-commerce stores so that every publisher's website is the best and most interesting possible place to find out about the books. And you wouldn't believe how elegant, cheap, fast and feature-packed Shopify stores are.
6 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?
A cracking stand at LBF and beyond, a network of friends to share victories and failures with, and a jolly good knees-up from time to time.