Meet the Exhibitor: Westchester Publishing Services / Westchester Education Services
Ahead of its participation in our virtual Spring Conference on 2 and 3 June, Tim Davies, Managing Director of Westchester Publishing Services and Westchester Education Services gives an introduction to their work
1. How can you help independent publishers become better businesses in 2020?
Westchester Publishing Services and its educational division, Westchester Education Services, can be valuable partners to IPG members in these surreal and uncertain times.
Along with the vast majority of our publisher clients’ staff, Westchester’s design, typesetting, copyediting, digital production and project management teams have all been working from home in recent weeks; keeping surprisingly busy despite the current challenges in our industry.
Many of Westchester’s 150+ academic, university press and trade publisher clients have told us that they’re reviewing their forward programmes as a result of the current closure of bookshops, universities and colleges in the UK and worldwide. As part of that review, and in order to balance in-house pre-press and production teams’ workloads, some titles are being cancelled, re-scheduled, and / or outsourced to pre-press vendors. If you're considering outsourcing some or all of your forward publishing programme, you may be interested to hear about Westchester’s typesetting and full service options.
Similarly, many of our 50 or so educational publisher clients have looked to us for added content development or production capacity, or to assist in moving into new markets, globalizing existing content, or adapting and revising backlist material. Again, we’d be delighted to talk to IPG educational and / or ELT publisher members about their publishing plans, our services and how we might assist with pre-press needs.
Employee-owned Westchester has been trading for more than 50 years. Our clients include Bloomsbury, Edward Elgar, UCL Press, Edinburgh UP, Gill Education, Illuminate Publishing, Wordunited, Macmillan and Pluto Press.
We can help IPG members scale or adjust production programmes, reduce costs, shorten schedules and improve quality for key tasks like project management, copyediting, design, and typesetting.
2. Beyond the coronavirus crisis, what is the biggest issue and the biggest opportunity in your part of the publishing world at the moment?
The coronavirus crisis and its catastrophic impact on print sales is so all-consuming at the moment that it’s difficult to see too far beyond its negative short, medium and long-term effects.
That said, cash management and funding in general has always been a major issue—possibly the major issue—for independent publishers. At least one eye needs to be focused on costs, particularly fixed costs, at all times.
Now, more than ever before, however, there are opportunities for timely, topical, innovative, high quality, and well executed publishing. Publish good books and / or ebooks - into a market that wants them, and get the operational basics right, like pre-press, production, distribution, and metadata, and you’ve got a decent chance of success.
As the ex-MD of an IPG member myself, in my experience a market-led publishing approach is key to success, particularly when social media offers such a powerful weapon for highly targeted marketing campaigns. This is particularly true at a time when it is difficult—at time of writing, impossible—to get your print books represented on the high street. If demand can be created by effective marketing, topical books and ebooks will still be ordered and will still sell.
Smart, nimble, market-led independent publishers have the best chance to survive and thrive, with their flexibility being a key strength. They can act quickly, without ‘committee’ decision-making, or the shackles of corporate bureaucracy, or third-party investor ownership.
Also, of course, their staff have disproportionate enthusiasm, loyalty, and commitment. Hours are long and the term ‘multi-tasking’ could have been coined for staff at independent publishing companies!
3. What are you most looking forward to about the IPG's virtual Spring Conference in June?
Who knows? Surprise me! Historically, IPG Conferences have provided an excellent opportunity to meet with existing and potential new clients, catch up with old pals (of which there are many), and of course keep up to speed with innovation and developments in our never more rapidly changing industry.
This Spring’s Conference will be new for all of us. Above all, I’m looking forward to learning something—a lot, hopefully—and having fun, albeit at a very safe distance!
Visit the Westchester Publishing Services and Westchester Education Services website.