I was pleased to be interviewed about local book publishing by Elaine Yau of the South China Morning Post. We held the interview in the Blacksmith office in Fo Tan and then went to the roof of the industrial building next door for a fun photo shoot by Xiaomei Chen (who has some great photo essays on her website).

“Hong Kong English books publisher on the secrets to a best-seller, shops closing, and dangers and rewards of the trade” the article is titled. “Colourful human tales and non-fiction on local themes among the biggest sellers for Blacksmith Books’ Pete Spurrier, who doesn’t see audience for English-language books shrinking despite Page One and Dymocks shutting.” Read the story here.

To expand upon one point, in case anyone is interested in the economics of print publishing: we work on the basis that if the first print run sells out, then we have earned back twice the production cost, thereby paying for a reprint; and reprints are cheaper to order, since only the printing and author’s royalties need to be paid again, not the other initial costs like editing, design and illustration. It usually works out. The successful books (7 out of 10 in a normal year) also help to pay the way of the other books that don’t take off. Nothing is guaranteed in publishing. But it’s a rare book that won’t sell at least a few hundred copies, even on a niche subject.

More details in the story.