Today marks the 30th anniversary of Edward Elgar Publishing, a milestone which everyone at EEP is immensely proud of. It feels like only yesterday that I started the business, along with my wife Sandy, from the study of the family home in Newent, Gloucestershire. At that stage, our meagre funds could not extend to a fax machine, so all of my editorial correspondence was conducted via mail, with Sandy doubling as my personal assistant as well as looking after our four young daughters.
In the three decades since, Elgar has grown to become one of the largest independent academic publishers in the UK, employing 70 people across three offices in the UK and US, publishing over 350 titles per year across the social sciences and law, and with 6,000 titles in print.
My original vision in 1986 was to create a publishing house that attracted leading authors and high quality books by offering international sales and marketing reach alongside a high quality and personal publishing experience. At that time, and to this day, we feel that many of our competitors badly let down their authors on this front.
As such, we believe our success and growth is due to the unique service that we offer to our authors. This service is also something which both our large commercial rivals, and many of the university presses, have struggled to replicate. In return, our authors have delivered us world-leading research and ground-breaking publications.
The loyalty of our staff has also played a very important role in our success, and in particular in the continuity of the relationships which they have built with authors and other key stakeholders. Many of them have given 20 plus years of service to the Company, and I am enormously grateful for the dedication, loyalty and commitment they have shown us.
From the outset, I also wanted the business to be as internationally focused as possible, something which continues to this very day. Japan quickly established itself as a key overseas market, and Sandy and I (often with our daughters in tow), travelled the world forging key relationships with agents, booksellers and authors in the US, India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, China, South Korea, Canada, Chile and Mexico amongst others.
In our first decade, our list was centred on the strength of our commissioning within economics. Since then, we have expanded rapidly across other key social science disciplines including business and management, political science and public policy, social policy, sociology, development studies and geography. In the last decade, law has emerged as our largest area of publishing, and we have also established a list in professional law, outside of our traditional scholarly market.
As for the present day, whilst investing in new digital publishing and expanding our subject fields we also continue to focus on treating authors and their books with care and the upmost attention to detail. We are now almost unique among academic publishers in not off-shoring our book production work and our desk editors project manage just a third of the number of books that their peers in some major academic publishers handle.
Edward Elgar Publishing is now led by the next generation of my family, my two sons-in-law Tim Williams and Alex Pettifer, while my daughters Catherine and Laura also sit on the board. We are a family business to the core, resolutely independent, and proud members of the Independent Publishers Guild.
In recent years our success has been recognised with a number of awards, including twice winning Independent, Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher of the Year and most recently Digital Publisher of the Year for the successful launch of our market-leading digital platform, Elgaronline.
Prior to establishing Elgar, I worked for a number of publishers including George Allen and Unwin, Martin Robertson, Blackwell’s and Harvester Wheatsheaf. All of these companies have one thing in common – they were acquired and so no longer exist! It was always my ambition to create a company that would treat its staff and authors fairly and remain independent. I’m pleased to say that it is our firm intention to maintain our position as a true independent publisher.
Like many family businesses, we are focused on long-term organic growth from a sound and sustainable business model.
The company operates with zero debt, and we own the freeholds to our three offices. With such strong foundations, we firmly believe that if we can continue to offer a market-leading author experience, whilst staying at the forefront of new publishing models and technology, the business has a long and exciting future ahead of it.
Company Founder and Chairman