Publisher, Salariya Publishing
Could you provide background detail on your own career to date culminating in the formation of Salariya Publishing.
The whole of my education up until I left Art School took place within walking distance of my home in Dundee. I attended Ancrum Road Primary School then Harris Accademy. I studied Illustration and Printmaking at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, specialising in book design in my post-graduate year. I moved to London after graduating in 1979 and went out with my portfolio to publishers, magazines and design studios. The first book that I was commissioned to illustrate was from the publishers Readers Digest. More commissions followed from other publishers. By 1986 I had started to have design concepts and synopses for heavily illustrated and design led books for children accepted and I was commissioned by the Italian publishers Giunti Marzocco in Florence to produce texts and illustrations for two series of books, around fifty titles. Then, in 1989, I formed The Salariya Book Company, at first as an editorial packager. It was during this period that I created and designed the 'Inside Story' series. The first book in the series of 18, Egyptian Pyramid, won the Times Ed Award. We went on to win the Times Ed Award on two more occasions, one year being the joint winner with Dorling Kindersley. The international bestselling Timelines series and the X-Ray Picture Books followed shortly afterwards. In 1997 I started packaging books, delivering bound copies to a publisher’s warehouse. In 2001 I started the Book House imprint. The logo and the name come from our offices in Marlborough Place, Brighton, which we bought in 1993.
Congratulations on being awarded Children’s Publisher of the Year at this year’s Independent Publishing Awards. Take us through a few highlights from the past year which led to this coveted award.
In 2009 we launched a series of books called The Cherished Library, with the first title, Ireland: A Very Peculiar History, specifically written and designed for a wide readership. This is the only range of books that we will give a reading age range for – 9 to 90. The author of Scotland: A Very Peculiar History Vols I and II Fiona Macdonald launched the series in a spectacular fashion at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last year by doing an interactive and informative performance with the assistance of American actor Walter Lewis from the Reduced Shakespeare company. Over a very short period we have developed 16 A Very Peculiar titles, ranging from Ancient Egypt: A Very Peculiar History (with added mushy bits) to Christmas: A Very Peculiar History (with lashings of second helpings). We continued to build our Scribblers list, which specialises in books for babies and pre-school children. One of the titles was named as one of the CCBC Choices 2009 in the USA, where it was published by Random House New York.
In 2009 we started our fiction imprint Scribo. We chose to launch this list with the international bestselling series Amos Daragon, which we bought from the French Canadian Publisher Les Intouchables. We commissioned David Franklin to do the cover artwork. On April 1st 2010 we published the first books with Augmented Reality in the UK, What Lola Wants…Lola Gets and Tyrone The Clean ‘O’ Saurus. These books have been a terrific success here at Bologna Children’s Book fair.
Your stand looks very impressive and has a strong, unique identity - we love the dripping paint effect! Many illustrators have a range of different styles. In your opinion, is it best to present one strong illustration style, or showcase a broader range?
The Salariya stand does look good this year. I discussed with our stand designer at Frankfurt what I was thinking about, that was taking artwork by different artists, turning this artwork into black and white, then letting the Salariya letters drip colour into the artwork, before continuing down the panels. They also said I could have puddles of colour on the floor. So the whole stand works well without distracting from the books.
An awkward question, with many answers depending on the artist and the client. Some Art Directors feel uncomfortable with artists presenting different styles. I like seeing illustrators with a variety of styles though. Working in different styles increases the variety and quantity of work that is coming in for the artist. Bear in mind that your style can be exactly what is needed at that moment, but can quickly go out of fashion, so it’s good to have a variety. I would say do what you feel comfortable and happy with.
From an illustration point of view, what words would you use to describe Salariya Publishing's house style(s)?
We don’t have a house style, with the wide variety of books that we publish, from information books to graphic novels to books for babies; we work with a wide range of artwork styles that are appropriate to the projects in hand. We are always looking for a fresh approach and the very best.
Humour plays a key role within your books. Is this a quality you specifically look for when sourcing a new illustrator?
Yes, humour is extremely important in grabbing the attention of children and adults, as is the use of speech bubbles. Humour helps us to deal with sometimes difficult subject matters and being a publisher of books for children we are obviously extremely interested in literacy and humour is one of the tools that we use to make a subject enticing and to act as a hook into a book. I like working with illustrators who can show a great sense of style and wit. I will create a project specifically around a particular artist OR I will ask an artist whose work I admire to try out a style that may be suitable for a new project.
Salariya Publishing has developed a number of innovative concepts. Could you tell us a little about your interactive web book series?
We developed the web books from the extremely successful You Wouldn’t Want To Be series (known as The Danger Zone in the UK). At about 60 titles and growing, this series has been translated into thirty languages. These books deal with the sometimes gruesome or unsavoury subjects that people from history faced. Children love them. About ten years ago Peter Cook developed four pages from each title into web books which feature some animation and speech bubbles, this draws a lot of attention to this series to the series and I think it is in part responsible for the series’ global appeal and success.
With the rise of ebooks and devices such as the iPad and Kindle, how do you see the industry changing and what impact does this have on Salariya Publishing?
This is all extremely exciting, I enjoyed our recent adventures in Augmented Reality and that we were the first publishers to publish books with new augmented reality characters. It’s wonderful being able to put sections of animation, print and music together. I really don’t know what the impact will be, when I started The Salariya Book Co we had editors, typesetters and paste-up artists with motorbikes transporting material around Brighton. Now, however, all this work can be done by a single editor. Change can be very good and does bring about opportunities. I am looking forward to seeing what will become the dominant format.
Our e-books and apps site www.appiness.me was registered some time ago to prepare for our app and e-book publications. I like the idea of putting a book straight into being an app as the costs don’t compare with printing and storing a book and although we have been printing our books on paper from sustainable forests since 1997, the impact on the environment is much less. For education the use of ebooks should be grasped with relish as material can be quickly updated and of course you don’t have children carrying a backbreaking load of books to school. We have started to commission books to be made into apps with animation; the early development work looks exciting. We wanted the apps to be able to give a different kind of experience. The reader will also have the option of switching on or off a reading voice. Our Book House catalogue will be available as an app from April 20th 2010. In the meantime we have an electronic page-turning catalogue at our websitewww.salariya.com and, of course, a paper version.
In your opinion, who or what leads trends within children's publishing?
At the moment technology and the increasing ease with which it is used (not to mention lower costs) is by far the most important factor in children’s publishing. Obviously there’s always another JK Rowling around the corner, waiting to turn the industry on its head, but in the meantime the development of technologies like Augmented Reality (as seen in our Book, Webcam, Action! series) and interactive books which link to the internet is incredibly important. It allows you to give so much more with your book. As with all forms of media that are threatened by technology, the key is not to fight but to adapt, and I’m excited to see a wealth of children’s books which use technology.
Please describe your average working day.
I’m not sure if I have an average working day…with being able to be in contact with the world all the time it means that working days spill into evenings, weekends and holidays. I try to make mornings for tasks associated with running the business, lunch nearly always in the same restaurant, then in the afternoon it’s down to working on new projects. I go to a life drawing class once a week. It’s important to occasionally get away from a keyboard!
What does the future hold for Salariya Publishing?
We will continue to develop our imprints Book House (www.book-house.co.uk), Scribblers (www.scribblersbooks.com) and Scribo (www.scribobooks.com). We look forward to embracing the technological changes and opportunities that the future will bring.