Rebecca Smart, managing director of Osprey Publishing, considers the Oxford-based publisher of military history books to be “a global publisher with offices in the U.K.” The U.S., in fact, is Osprey's largest market, accounting for nearly half of its £5.6 million revenue in 2007, as well as providing the company with a major source of topics. “We do a lot of books about the Civil War,” Smart noted. The company's U.S. office, led by sales and marketing director John Tintera, “has a lot of input into what we publish,” Smart added.
Osprey will up its commitment to the U.S. later this year when Shirley Tung moves from the U.K. to its New York office as sales and marketing coordinator. “We'll be doing lots of consumer and trade events,” Smart said. In addition, this fall Osprey will relaunch the Shire imprint in the U.S. The company acquired Shire, a publisher of “history, heritage and collectible” titles, last August. Osprey plans to publish 24 new titles and 48 reissues this year. Smart said the Shire titles have been “well received” by the reps at Random House, which distributes Osprey in the U.S. Traditional and online bookstores as well as hobby outlets that sell to military enthusiasts are all important outlets for Osprey.
The company is hoping to take advantage of its customers' craving for its specialized content by starting a subscription section when it relaunches its Web site this summer. Osprey will offer two subscription plans: for $5 per month, members will get access to special digitized content, such as maps and pictures of military aircraft, as well as a 15% discount on all book purchases; for $12.50 per month subscribers receive the same access and a 30% discount. Osprey plans to continue to add more digital content to the site to create a comprehensive encyclopedia of military history. Smart, noting that Osprey has 25,000 subscribers to its opt-in monthly e-mail newsletter, believes the paid section will draw customers because of the devotion military enthusiasts have for their hobby.
It's that devotion that has kept sales growing in the U.K. and U.S. this year, despite difficult conditions on both sides of the Atlantic. A Duel series—which pits one war machine (a German panzer) against another (M3 medium tank)—introduced last year has been well received, as have individual titles like FUBAR: Soldier Slang of World War II and Sniper. To mark its 40th anniversary this year, Osprey will release OspreyMen-at-Arms: A Celebration, which will feature photos from the 450 volumes in the series that have been released since 1971. Smart also has high hopes for Sticklers, Sideburns and Bikinis, which traces the military origins of many popular words.