The Bookseller – Commentary – It will never work, they said…

When I started Scorpius Books, I wanted to create a company that tackled the somewhat antiquated way the publishing industry works, because sometimes we have to break the rules, remember what’s possible.

Having worked as an editor for over 14 years for publishers and authors, in addition to being a published author myself, I had seen enough of the industry on both sides of the fence to know that a lot of things in the publishing world were done it the way they were simply because “that’s how it’s always been done”…despite so many other choices available (I really could talk about this all day but I I’ll hold back).

Having seen small publishers such as Snowbooks and Valley Press succeed in doing things their own way, I considered this “Let’s do things differently” approach when our own business plan took shape.

One of the things I wanted to address was the lack of any solid movement to reduce wastage in editing. The industry destroys enough books each year to fill the British Library and the Library of Congress twice – with books that are simply unsold. It is cheaper to destroy books than to put them back into circulation.

Scorpius Books was not going to be part of this problem. Instead, we decided to use print-on-demand technology and create our own Book Rescue, whereby our unsold or returned books are sold at a reduced price, even if they are not in perfect condition. , which gives them a second chance to be read.

It’s great to see other small publishers such as Nosy Crow have strong environmental policies and be aware of their impact on the planet, so we designed our own strong environmental policy, looking for UK printers who could show us our footprint carbon for every pound produced and who have won awards for their green approach.

It’s a shame that the industry is so mired in conventions, and we hope small publishers like us can at least continue to make a small contribution to remedy this.

That’s because all of our suppliers, from our printers to our mailboxes and packaging, are chosen based on their recycled or plastic-free materials and low-toxicity inks. We’ve partnered with some amazing small businesses along the way. We even joined Ecologi, the social enterprise that helps create forests and jobs around the world to offset carbon emissions.

We’ve also found ways to innovate and shorten the creative process while focusing on quality, getting our titles to shelves much faster. Bloodhound Books has taken a leading role in this approach by bringing its e-books to readers much faster than industry standards, proving that it can work. We’ve created a collection of paperback hardback books (why are they so big? They’re definitely not designed for commuters!), have an email-only submission policy (so no waste!), and have created an open contract for our authors, making them partners in the book-making process.

Our other little baby is our range of adult dyslexic-friendly titles. My husband is dyslexic, but although he is a huge book lover, our shelves are filled with military fiction that he struggles to read due to layout and text size. So I decided to look into dyslexic-friendly fiction… except I just couldn’t find anything. There was plenty for children (high-five Barrington Stoke!), but there seemed to be nothing for adults with dyslexia. I came across the strange Harry Potter edition in dyslexic format, but everything else was either produced at a very low level or aimed at such a young audience that it was embarrassing – why couldn’t a dyslexic person have access to the same fiction as everyone else ?

I’ve had long conversations with dyslexic associations, individuals, and booksellers, including Books on the Hill, which has been seeking dyslexic-friendly fiction for ages. I thought I was missing a huge part of the puzzle and realized it couldn’t be that simple. I am still waiting! The publishing industry just doesn’t seem to want to know.

We therefore took into account a dyslexia format; cream paper to reduce glare, an easier-to-read sans serif font, and increased line and letter spacing to prevent distortion. These font choices extended to our covers and blurbs as well, and we chose a larger trim size to allow for better spacing on the page. The titles went through an editing process that ensured the language was sufficient to maintain the story, while being easier to read.

The feedback we’ve received so far from booksellers has been amazing, even in these difficult times when smaller retailers are hesitant to take on new stock. They were all very positive and I’m really grateful to everyone who had the opportunity to support a small new publisher who needed that shot to prove themselves. It’s also great to see Both Press (a Books on the Hill company) now creating its own dyslexic-friendly fiction, helping to increase exposure and awareness.

It’s a shame that the industry is so bogged down in conventions, and we hope that smaller publishers like us can at least continue to make a small contribution to remedy this. Great fiction should be accessible to everyone – which is why we should all pay attention to independent authors and publishers willing to dip their toes in the water, take a chance… and break the rules for the benefit of all. .