Because David Bateman has a healthy New Zealand nonfiction publishing list, it is easy to forget that they also have a sizeable market as international book publishers and packagers. They have had at presence at Frankfurt for over 25 years and their own stand at the Book Fair for the last 20 years.
Case in point: Encyclopaedia of Tropical Plants, a full colour 725 page tome with photographs of over 3000 plants. The book, by NZ based authority Ahmed Fayaz, was first presented at Frankfurt three years ago. Last month copies with respective Bateman, Australian and North American imprints debuted internationally.
But Bateman’s are accustomed to producing significant books like Bateman New Zealand Encyclopaedia (six editions), Contemporary Atlas of New Zealand, Vaka Moana: Voyages of the Ancestors; Pacific Jewellery and Adornment and five volumes on Contemporary New Zealand Art.
This year at Frankfurt a new round of titles is being presented, including Kenya’s High Country: The landscapes, wildlife and people of the Laikipia Plateau. It is by Tui De Roy and Mark Jones who both have written and photographed a number of very successful international wildlife books for Bateman. It is to be published next year, and the stunning summary should ensure a good international reception.
Attending Frankfurt Book Fair is a two-way street as Bateman’s also buy NZ publication rights for international titles, however this is only a small part of their current list.
An astute eye is needed to see international sales possibilities – and they are often found in unlikely places.
Publishing director Paul Bateman and associate publisher Tracey Borgfeldt were in conversation with floral artist Fionna Hill, when Paul noticed an article she wrote about microgreens. Fionna was asked to write book on the subject, and How to Grow Microgreens has now sold rights for Austrian, German, Swiss, French, American and Chinese markets.
There’s only a small in house team working on the 20-25 titles Bateman produces each year, just Paul, Tracey and senior editor Caroline List. Much of the editorial, proofing and all design work is outsourced. The firm uses Hong Kong based printers – with whom they have worked for 30 years – for the bulk of their print work.
Bateman are also important distributors in the local market, not only for their own titles but for other publishers such as David Ling, Annabel Langbein and Graham Stewart, Land Transport’s Road Code, and international publishers Rizzoli and Sterling. They recently received a PaperPlus Award for excellence in distribution.
The international publishing climate has changed in the last few years, as it has here, Tracey notes. Where once a 3000-5000 copy print run was normal, now that’s considered a good figure. Bateman has to turn down projects they would like to take on but consider there is an insufficient market for the title to be viable. The upside is seeing more projects which have likely been turned down by bigger publishers but which they believe will work for Bateman.
Finding good sized niche markets is important – while it might be considered that there are plenty of New Zealand histories, Stevan Eldred-Grigg’s People, People, People: A Brief History of New Zealand fills the gap for a colourfully illustrated short history that’s accessible for tourist and student markets.
Travel is a new genre for Bateman – Ian Robinson’s prizewinning Tea with the Taliban will be joined by Gods of the Stoneslater this month, and both are in the catalogue for Frankfurt. Gods of the Stones is Wellington writer Peter Riordan’s travels through a number of countries in the Middle East in the steps of 30’s classic travel writer HV Morton.Peter has two other travel books under his belt – Motorcycle Masala and Strangers in My Sleeper, a great book about his travels by train around the subcontinent.
And for a change of subject, two books on knitting by designer Mel Clark – Knitting Everyday Fineryand Knitted Gifts for Babies – both due out in 2012 will be shown at Frankfurt by Bateman.Astonishingly, both are already sold into the UK and North America market, so they are looking for foreign-language editions at the Book Fair. Mel’s first knitting book was with Tracy Ullman and sold over 60,000 copies in the US!
Tracey sums up the market change for Bateman internationally by noting there are fewer deals for larger format coffee table-style books and more for books with practical information, but in smaller print runs.
She also notes the need for authors to be able to do their own publicity. “When they have written the book, they can think that is the job done, but the second half, getting out there and selling the book, is just as necessary.”
With an author like Mel Clark, that’s not a problem – she already has her own popular knitting website www.southseasknitting.com and blog following on SlipSlipKnit.
As with other publishers worldwide, Bateman are in the process of converting new titles and some backlist to e-book formats, but have not started distributing these yet.
Right now the publishing department is flat out with Frankfurt preparation – five working days to print catalogue deadline – and four covers still to be created!