John Murray to launch non-fiction imprint Basic Books UK

John Murray to launch non-fiction imprint Basic Books UK

John Murray Press will launch a new UK imprint of the award-winning non fiction New York publisher Basic Books, headed up by John Murray Press m.d. Nick Davies.

Basic Books UK will be an imprint of John Murray Press – Hachette UK’s serious and specialist non-fiction division. “The UK imprint will collaborate closely with its US counterpart to publish major new works by influential historians, scientists, mathematicians, economists, psychologists and other leading experts on both sides of the Atlantic,” John Murray said.

Nick Davies, m.d. of John Murray Press, will take on the role of publisher in the UK and will recruit an experienced commissioner to lead the new Basic Books UK list. The commissioner will report to Davies, and collaborate with Lara Heimert, publisher at Basic Books US, and her editorial colleagues in New York. They will commission around eight to 12 front list titles per year, with additional commissioning coming from existing John Murray editors.

Davies has acquired the first UK title, The AI Disruption by Martin Ford, in collaboration with TJ Kelleher, v.p. and associate publisher of Basic Books in NY. This new book explores AI as a uniquely scalable technology poised to deliver a transformation that will rival the impact of electricity. Ford is a leading expert and commentator on artificial intelligence and robotics who, through his ground-breaking work with organisations such as Societe Generale and his relationship with the foremost research scientists in the world, has gained unique insights and predictions on the future of AI. Basic Books will publish simultaneously in North America and UK in Spring 2021.

Two other titles have already been jointly acquired with the US for the newly established UK list. Georgina Laycock, publisher at John Murray, and Kelleher have acquired A World Without Stars by Roberto Trotta, “which explores our fascination with the night sky and the universe beyond our own planet,” John Murray said. Trotta is a celebrated Italian cosmologist and Professor of Astrophysics at Imperial College London.

Additionally Joe Zigmond, editorial director at John Murray, and Brian Distelberg, senior editor at Basic Books, have acquired Scorched Earth a radical, post-colonial history of World War II by Paul Thomas Chamberlin, Professor of History at Columbia University.

Davies said of the new list: “It’s a great honour to welcome Basic Books to the UK. We’ve collaborated with the US team for many years now, but this marks an exciting new chapter in our relationship. The Basic list is shot through with quality and gravitas – a tradition that we will be building on with a new generation of British and European talent. It presents a unique opportunity to build a serious non-fiction list with one of the most respected brands in American publishing, and the support of one of the most successful publishing divisions in the UK.”

Heimert said: “I’ve long hoped to extend the Basic imprint into the United Kingdom, and I’m thrilled that we’re able to achieve that goal in partnership with John Murray. This new partnership reflects my deep admiration for Nick’s tremendous creativity, intelligence, and entrepreneurialism. I am excited to see Nick and his publishing team bring the quality of the Basic Books list to more readers in the UK and around the world. And I’m excited for the many new writers who Nick and his team will bring into Basic’s orbit.”

Basic Books in the US is an imprint of Perseus Books, a Hachette Book Group company. It was founded in 1950 and has focused on history, science, sociology, psychology, politics, and current affairs, publishing the likes of Sigmund Freud, Tom Holland and Steven Pinker. In 2020, it will celebrate its 70th anniversary.