Back at Last

It’s been a long while. I’m now back. It probably should be a relief as I have had a web presence since early 1990. In those days I made a website but had to use dial-up to access Compuserve so submit a hand-coded web site in html. I never saw that site. My equipment couldn’t cope. Not sure that anyone else saw it either.

It was very encouraging and I had belief in the value of the Internet. Many were sceptical but slowly that has changed. Emerging technologies have also contributed

It’s done well, providing a communications platform that much of the world can now use. There are obvious weaknesses. It is no longer just a military or academic linkage. It has been taken over by the current Mammon: commercialisation.

It motivated me. The arrival of the Docutech printing system also helped. It was a photocopier linked to a book binding machine. It’s great advantage was that it allowed single copies to be printed, and made short runs economic. In those days we had an efficient library service. Any book published was able to guarantee sales of about 200 copies as libraries acquired copies for their collections.

It got me going. With my LSE colleagues we published ‘A Student’s Guide to Geography’. That sold 2,000 copies after the feminist page of the Guardian newspaper was scathing about an article I wrote about the differences between male and female school head teachers. Controversy can awaken interest. That’s unfortunate really as such inanity allows the reader to divert from substance.

Together with John Dawes I formed Author Publisher Enterprise (APE) and we were soon linked to the Society of Authors, who were dismissive of self-published books. Quite rightly because many authors were persuaded to hand over cash to vanity publishers, who promised much and gave little.

APE did well. We organised events, published articles, and were part of an emerging movement. I played Secretary at APE, and made friends with another Secretary, the lovely Christina Manolescu who now lives in Canada.

In those days there were many small independent publishers. Today abut 90% of the books you find in those bookshops that remain have come from one of the seven conglomerates that control the industry. It does little for literacy, nor does it encourage new ideas. Those that make it do so because accountants have assumed they will make a profit. Many books are produced on the back of a successful career elsewhere; perhaps as a cook, a footballer or singer. Literary worth has little to do with it.

Through Braiswick, my own publishing company, I published about 150 titles, moving on to audio books and online productions. I never made any money but it was all interesting and some of my authors have gone on to be recognised elsewhere. My determination was to provide a platform for those who seemed to need an audience.

War and Peace cartoon

There were good times. My good friend Ken Ward, really Ken Wurtzburger, had arrived in England from Salzburg through the Kindertransport scheme. He joined the Tank Regiment, losing four tanks, as he battled back to Berlin. We published …and the Band Played On (could still be available as an ebook if required).

There will be more.