1 What's your company called?
We trade as Fiscal Publications.
2 What do you publish?
Academic textbooks and research monographs—historically in the areas of public economics and tax, but we are branching out more widely into business and management.
3 What's the story of the company?
We started life as a publishing company to release the books of Professor Cedric Sandford, an eminent Professor in the field of public economics. The business was acquired from him around 15 years ago when he retired due to ill health and was just going to remainder all of his great titles with great sadness. We have been pleased to keep his books in print for him! I published a textbook with a non-independent publisher at the time and brought that title into the business as they were doing such a poor job of it I thought I could do just as well—somewhat naively perhaps—and became my own publisher. Since then we have focused on textbooks in the main, producing a low number of up to five new books or editions a year. I am an academic in my day job and run Fiscal Publications with part of my time, using external consultants as needed for production, sales and marketing.
4 How's business?
We currently publish two of the top three taxation textbooks for study at university, and these provide steady activity for the business—albeit facing the same challenges as many others in this area in terms of maintaining sales and exploring new modes of electronic delivery that suit authors, adopting lecturers, readers and librarians—and not to forget the publisher!
Most recently we have partnered with a consultant to move into new lines of business in textbooks, and hope we can bring something different to the market.
5 What do you enjoy about being independent?
Not having to play the corporate game of the bigger businesses that can too often just sap creative energy and mean good titles don’t get produced in a timely fashion, which is key to annually produced textbooks like tax books. They might also not get time to mature through various editions before they are canned.
6 What do you think is the biggest single issue in publishing right now?
Developing a suitable and sustainable model of business for sharing content that suits all those who have a stake in academic publishing. We need to make sure it continues to be worthwhile for great textbooks to come to market, and that they suit the developing learning styles and needs of students of all types.
7 What one piece of advice would you give to a fellow independent just starting out?
I’m not sure I know enough to share advice! Don’t be afraid to be passionate about projects you think worthwhile. And join the IPG of course! (That’s the correct answer to this question—right?)
8 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?
I’ve only been a member for a couple of months, so perhaps I can offer what I hope to get out of membership: the opportunity to learn and get to know those with more experience and knowledge than I suspect I will ever have in this field, but who have chosen to play a part in keeping independent publishing alive and flourishing against stiff odds. I hope to offer something small in return from my limited experience—perhaps as much from being a long-term academic as a publisher!