Why I sold to Little, Brown
24.07.07 | JUDY PIATKUS
Piatkus Books was founded in 1979 from the bedroom of my house in Loughton. In the first year we – myself and a part-time assistant – published 40 hardback novels for libraries and, emboldened by my success in selling enough copies of these to make a profit, we acquired another 40 books for the next year.
By 1982 we were publishing 50 books a year and I had put in a loft extension.
By 1984 we had a staff of eight, a turnover of £1 million and had outgrown my Loughton home. We moved into a small office in the West End and bought our building at 5 Windmill Street, W1, in 1986.
The success of Piatkus Books over the past 28 years mirrors the way in which our society has changed. It has been an exciting time and our passion for ideas and new ways of thinking has meant that there has always been a tremendous buzz in the company.
In publishing nothing stands still. One of the reasons for the success and longevity of Piatkus is that we have always been able to respond quickly to ideas and trends and to reinvent ourselves.
Our aim has been to create a company that would be fun to work in. Our mission has been to publish fiction to entertain and non-fiction to inform, inspire and motivate. We wanted our books to have meaning and perhaps to change lives. We wanted them to be books that readers would keep on their shelves, refer back to and recommend. This approach has proved highly attractive to staff, authors and the trade. We have been privileged to publish the work of many talented writers and our dedicated staff has had the opportunity to help to build the careers of some extraordinary individuals.
We could not have achieved any of this without the support of the chains and the independent booksellers, who have always been happy to see Diane and our reps and to hear about our latest titles. The book clubs, and now the supermarkets, have also played their part. They have all been impressed by the quality of our books and our awareness of the marketplace, and by our ability to attract excellent media coverage.
So why sell now, especially after three years of exceptional and profitable growth which has taken us from a turnover of £6.4 million at the end of 2004 to our current level of just under £10 million?
For myself, I have loved every moment of working at Piatkus Books and for most of the past 28 years I could not think of anything else that I would rather be doing with my life. I am enormously proud of our achievements, and I’ve met and worked with many wonderful people. But running a company is a 24/7 commitment and I am ready for a change.
It was important to find the right buyer for Piatkus, and to keep its name and its personality intact. When Little Brown heard that we were for sale, they were immediately interested to work with us. We could not have hoped for a better home. Their publishing ethos and their attitude towards their books and their authors are so similar to ours. Piatkus will retain its special identity and talented staff. With access to some resources that have never previously been available, we believe that Piatkus will, in the years to come, be an even more formidable force in the marketplace than we are already.