Risky business

<p>At Roast Books we release about four books a year, the latest of which, <i>An A-Z of Possible Worlds</i> encapsulates our passion for unique literary titles, packaged innovatively and aimed at the book-lover. Recognition and appreciation is growing but this won&rsquo;t translate into widespread distribution yet. </p>
<p>Where&rsquo;s the missing link? What does it take for a new publishing house, promoting new authors, with a production emphasis on design and quality to reach the consumer?<br />
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For the moment, the success of <i>An A-Z of Possible Worlds</i>, and Roast Books' previous titles, is dependent upon cyberspace. Thank goodness for the internet. For us, it is the most phenomenal shop window, the low cost solution to sales, a free and very powerful tool for promotion, and a medium that allows direct contact with the consumer. <br />
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This is essential, since the major challenge for Roast Books is asserting a presence in bookshops.&nbsp; A &pound;20 literary box set by a debut author is a challenging item to single-handedly convince bookshops to stock, particularly in October and November with hundreds of other competing titles. But it was important for us to aim the book squarely at the Christmas gift market. With limitations on all resources, self-distribution is no small feat, and one begins to cross-examine the missing link between quality small publishers and potential readers.&nbsp; <br />
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Who is making these decisions? The bookshop owners? The mass distributors? Is the prominence of &lsquo;three for twos&rsquo; and discounted titles eating into the space which previously nourished supported and encouraged small publishers? I don&rsquo;t know the answer, but it does feel as though the power to decide which titles the public are allowed to discover is concentrated in very few hands. <br />
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The system of distribution seems to be so costly that it may well be precluding risk-taking by the establishment on quality titles by indie publishers. The middle-men and women may very well have the ability and capability to spot potentially great new titles, but it makes me question if their hands are tied. It seems margins are getting squeezed all the time by this inherently inefficient and increasingly expensive system of distribution. <br />
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Some of our titles may never be commercial or aimed at a mass market, but this is exactly what makes us different, and creates a specific demand. The blog tour alone for <i>An A-Z of Possible Worlds </i>has exceeded our sales expectations. We believe this title can go far, and certainly deserves to. Whether there is a space for Roast Books within conventional routes to market or not, we will continue to produce books with care, originality and a spirit of independence.<br />
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