Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Political Book Publishing Company Launched by Total Politics

Here's a self explanatory press release we're sending out today. We think it will fill a big gap that has been left in the world of political publishing. So few people are publishing political books nowadays. Big publishers will only publish a book if they think it will sell at least 10,000 copies, while smaller and medium sized publishers have been gobbled up by bigger ones. So as a consequence, the kind of books I used to publish at Politico's are not being published any longer.

So if you think you have a book in you, you know who to pitch it to! We're going to be strictly non partisan in our approach, as you will see by the list of books we have already signed up.


A major new political & current affairs publisher was formed this week, when Biteback Publishing launched itself into the book publishing market with three new imprints - Total Politics, Dialogue and Biteback. Biteback Publishing is 85% owned by Biteback Media, the publisher of the monthly glossy political magazine, Total Politics.

Biteback founders Iain Dale and John Simmons have been joined by John Schwartz, MD of leading political design agency SoapBox and Sean Magee - described by the Guardian as ‘a London publishing institution’ - as minority shareholders. Both worked with Dale & Simmons at Politico's Publishing, which they sold to Methuen in 2003. Schwartz has worked for the left leaning IPPR and is a former editor of Labour History magazine. Magee has had a distinguished career in current affairs publishing and has published best selling books by Michael Foot, Peter Riddell, Peter Hennessy, Brian Brivati, Geoffrey Goodman, Nicholas Jones and many others.

Also joining them as a shareholder and commissioning editor will be Michael Smith, author of several bestselling books (Foley, The Spying Game etc) on the intelligence services and award winning defence editor of the Sunday Times.

Sean Magee will act as chief commissioning editor and is joined on the staff by former Politico's editor Jonathan Wadman and former Methuen Sales & Marketing Manager James Stephens. The company will operate from Biteback Media's new Kennington offices.

An advisory board has been established to monitor the work of and advise all three Biteback imprints.

• Professor Peter Hennessy (Queen Mary & Westfield College, University of London), Britain’s most prominent contemporary historian
• Peter Riddell, nfluential political commentator for The Times
• Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, controversial columnist for The Independent
• Professor Philip Cowley (University of Nottingham), leading political analyst
• Professor Bruce Hoffman (Georgetown University, Washington DC), international terrorism expert
• Professor John A. Hall (McGill University, Montreal), eminent professor of comparative history

Biteback Publishing intends to publish between 30 and 40 books annually throughout the three imprints. Biteback will publish general current affairs titles, including biography, humour and political fiction. Dialogue will concentrate on contemporary history and current affairs with a strong international flavour, while the Total Politics imprint will be concerned with specialist political and reference titles.

Iain Dale, Biteback's Managing Director comments...

"This is an exciting new venture. There is a huge gap in the current affairs publishing market which needs filling. At a time when interest in politics is growing, few publishers seem to be publishing political titles. Sales of non-fiction books are holding up despite the recession. No business can claim to be recession-proof, but interest in current affairs, economics, and political history is likely to increase in an economic downturn."

The first titles will appear in September and include the following...


Trust: How we Lost It & How to Get It Back by Anthony Seldon
Screwing Up by Mark Oaten MP
The Yes Minister Miscellany by Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn
Kinnock: A Biography by Martin Westlake
How to Create a Successful School by Francis Beckett
Effective Political Speechmaking by John Shosky


Seeking Gadaffi (a biography of Colonel Gadaffi) by Dabiel Kawzcynski MP
Inside the Pakistan Army by Carey Schofield
Dilly: The Man Who broke Enigma by Mavis Batey
Six: 100 Years of the Secret Intelligence Service by Michael Smith
Delane's War - Tim Coates

The Total Politics Guide to the General Election edited by Greg Callus
The Art of Consultation by Rhion Jones & Elizabeth Gammell
Blueprint: Inside the Next Conservative Government by Lionel Zetter
How to be a Politician edited by Shane Greer
Rise & Fall of the Dock Labour Scheme by John Dempster
Total Politics Guide to Political Blogging 2009-10
British Electoral Facts 1832-2006 edited by Colin Rallings & Michael Thrasher

Compass DSL will handle trade sales for Biteback and Abingdon based Marston books will handle distribution. A website and catalogue will be published in early September.

Further information from info@bitebackpublishing.com


Ray said...

you have the Yes Minister book and the Kinnock book in a list with others, is this a comedy section ? Are the other books works of fiction also.

Norman Dee

The Brokendown Barman said...

mmm cant wait for blue print: inside the next conservative what not eh?

alistair said...

glad to see someone care about political books and be prepaired to stick there head above the paripit well done

Events dear boy, events said...

Iain, Good luck. I miss your old shop in Victoria. I visited often and purchased many books. I wish your venture every success.

Anonymous said...

Good luck - I hope you did not waste too much money on the picture of Brown for the 2010 election book.

David Logan said...

Good on you, Iain. I used to enjoy the Politicos shop and now run my own.

I look forward to stocking your new titles in the autumn.

Tom said...

This all sounds really good, I wish you luck with it.

Iain Dale said...

David, Thanks! Let me have your details and I will make sure you get a good deal. Which is your shop? Email me privately if you like.

Anonymous said...

"Queen Mary, University of London", no longer "and Westfield College". Come on Iain, the Prof is a stickler for detail, & to get it wrong on your press release as welll...

tut tut.

Bill Quango MP said...

Best of luck with your venture.
See Gordon was right. There are new start ups.

Pete Wass said...

Good luck.

no longer anonymous said...

Excellent idea Iain, whenever I look at the politics section in Waterstones it seems to be full of books on terrorism.

Jess The Dog said...

It's good to see a niche publishing company being established in the face of the monolithic publishing industry. Believe it or not, there were 10% less titles published in 2007 than in 2006 (or something like that). If it's a ghostwritten celebrity bio or "novel" or a repeat work by an established author, then it will be piled high in shop windows and supermarkets, if not then it is most likely to end up in the bin.

The silver lining to this cloud is the internet. It enables more specialist tastes to be catered for, and there has been a resurgence in small press magazine and book publication. Helps with "amateur" writers to get in print, which they need to do to progress.

I've co-edited a small booklet for a creative writing group, selling for charity (local Waterstones have accepted it as well). I've also had one piece accepted for publication in a magazine, to my delight. There's a lot of interest and writing out there, and a lot of demand for stuff that isn't in the Top 20.

The lack of political novels is of interest...maybe a lot of the material is going straight to TV and even cinema (The Thick of It, State of Play, the Blunkett drama, The Government Inspector etc?? Michael Dobbs is the only mainstream political novelist that springs to mind, and he appears to have gone back to Churchill. Robert Harris had a bash, with mixed results, can't really think of anyone else. There's enormous material out there - Labour, Iraq, Afghanistan, domestic terrorist threat...maybe easier to slip into thriller mode than political novel mode.

I have a cracking idea....just need to write it (haven't we all?!?!)

no longer anonymous said...

What would be interesting would be an atlas of general election results from 1832 to 2005 (or 2010). As far as I'm aware there's only one atlas like this but it's in black and white and only covers the 1880s-1966.

Anonymous said...

"Professor Peter Hennessy (Queen Mary & Westfield College, University of London)"

No-one calls it that these days. Since 2000 it has been known as "Queen Mary, University of London".

Newmark said...

Anonymous said...
"Queen Mary, University of London", no longer "and Westfield College". Come on Iain, the Prof is a stickler for detail, & to get it wrong on your press release as welll...
tut tut."

Tut Tut to you. The press release is not wrong. "Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London" is still the official name (see the charter).

Old Dominion Tory said...

Congratulations and thank you for starting another book publishing venture. Starting this project--like starting Total Politics--demanded no small amount of fortitude, especially as the publishing world stands today.
I am hopeful you'll pair up with a American house so some of these books can make it to this side of the Pond.
Again, congratulations.

Hamish said...

You are becoming like the BBC.
As well as sneaking commercial advertisements into your posts,
you are boring at least one reader with self-advertising.

Iain Dale said...

Hamish, I am tempted to tell you to go swivel, but as you know, I am too polite for my own good.

I'd have thought that readers of a political blog would be interested in a new venture in political book publishing. Clearly I am wrong and must apologise.

Do collect your refund on the way out.

Pam Nash said...

I'm delighted by this news and, like most other posters, wish the venture well.

There IS a huge void in the political novel genre - hope you fill it!

Pam Nash said...

Hamish - if you are so bored, why are you still reading? Now, this may come as a huge surprise to you, but Iain can post what he wants - because IT'S HIS BLOG!!

Simon Harley said...

While I wish you all the best with your venture, is Peter Hennessy REALLY "Britain's most prominent contemporary historian"?

Iain Dale said...

Simon, I'd say so, yes. But you obviously think not. Who would you nominate?

Anonymous said...

A Friend sent this to me. Have a read.


By NY Times Best-selling author Steve Alten of “The Shell Game”

QUESTION: How does a tall, bearded radical Muslim living in a cave in Afghanistan divert the most powerful Air Force in the history of mankind from the most guarded air space on the planet on the very day of the worst terrorist attack…an attack that will lead to the invasion of Iraq, a country that has nothing to do with the events of 9/11?

ANSWER: He doesn’t.

On September 8th, 2009, my publisher released the mass market of The SHELL GAME, a thriller about the end of oil and the next 9/11 event – an event that will be orchestrated by Dick Cheney and the neoconservative war machine to get us to launch an invasion of Iran. The book, which is really a Trojan Horse designed to inform Americans what REALLY HAPPENED on 9/11, features shocking facts offered to me by police investigators and members of foreign intelligence services who KNEW the attacks were going to happen months in advance of September 2001…and were ignored!