Australian publisher Black Inc is to launch in the UK this September.
Founded in 2000 and based in Melbourne, Black Inc has made its name publishing literary non-fiction and fiction. Last year it issued the Australian edition of Sunday Times bestseller The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben (Greystone in the UK) and Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road (Oneworld). The press was voted Small Publisher of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards in 2007, 2009 and 2015.
Discussing why the press is to launch in the UK, publisher Sophy Williams told The Bookseller: “Our team has been actively acquiring books in recent years with a more international feel, with a view to gaining a greater audience overseas. Our strategy to date has been to selectively license to UK publishers, and we have been very active in that space. For instance, Anna Krien’s Night Games: Sex, Power and a Journey into the Dark Heart of Sport was licensed to Yellow Jersey, and went on to win the William Hill prize. We published a masterful essay by David Malouf some years back called The Happy Life, which was published in the UK by Chatto & Windus. These and many other successful UK presences for our titles have shown us the time is right to publish under our own imprint.”
While Williams says the publisher will “inevitably” open a UK office, the press is currently being supported in the UK by Ingram. Black Inc’s UK list will feature a range of non-fiction books, although it will focus on politics, history, economics, gender, society and the natural world. Black Inc publishes around 90 original titles and reprints in Australia each year and, from this, it will curate a list of around 50 books for release in the UK.
Noting the differences in UK and Australian markets, Williams highlights the dominance of big players such as Amazon and Waterstones in the UK book-retail landscape; comparatively, the Australian market is “so much more diverse”. She adds that while the UK market is “highly competitive”, when “something takes off it has potential to scale out in far greater numbers than in Australia where we only have a population of 24 million.”
Williams is excited about the impending launch and is glad to be bringing over “wonderful” Australian authors including Dennis Glover (with his George Orwell-themed début novel, The Last Man in Europe) and Jeff Apter (with his biography of AC/DC’s Angus Young, High Voltage). Later in the year, the press will launch Richard Denniss’ Curing Affluenza. Black Inc hopes to fit into a thriving
independent scene alongside presses it has relationships with and greatly admires, including Hurst & Co, Text, Scribe, Atlantic, Allen & Unwin, Oneworld, Granta and Profile. “We hope that we will be seen as part of this community and be able to provoke, entertain and enchant readers in the UK with our books for years to come,” Williams says.