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Publishers Weekly Features

Britain: Looking Westward to Expand
John F. Baker -- 3/13/00
On the eve of the London Book Fair, British publishers, anxious about the domestic retail market, are seeking U.S. bridgeheads, and wondering where e-commerce will take them

It seems as if there's never a time in British publishing when all seems entirely serene. As the industry gears up for the next London Book Fair, the topics setting tongues wagging in London are two huge management gaps waiting to be filled--at HarperCollins and Little, Brown--and a continuing unease with the current retail picture, particularly a threat of heavier-than-usual returns from Waterstone's, and a sense that W.H. Smith is not taking as many books as it claims it is and at the same time is pressing for higher discounts.

In a week of interviewing publishers, editors and agents, these are the primary impressions, along with a pervasive sense that e-commerce is soon going to be a much more emphatic element than it is now. In this context, British book people have the good fortune to be able to watch a business far more advanced along e-lines than their own--here in the United States--and see what works and what d sn't, what develops as a significant part of the picture and what fails to catch fire.

Looking Toward America

With the British market small (no more than 20% of the size of ours), and a sense that the walls are closing in, with a shrinking export market and ever-tighter margins, it's only natural that British publishers should look enviously and acquisitively at the expansive American market; and several of them are likely to take the plunge with American branches and/or acquisitions in the coming year or so.

One that already has is BBC Worldwide, which made an arrangement with Veronis Suhler Associates recently (News, Feb. 7) for funding with a view to acquiring American companies that will give the BBC product, when it's not licensed, some stateside distribution. "We're sitting on a huge number of copyrights. We have powerful publishing and marketing skills," says Chris Weller, head of Worldwide's publishing operations from his office in North London. "But we've had no publishing infrastructure in the States." The idea is to get into magazine publishing first, he says, "but we certainly don't rule out books."

So far, most BBC book publishing in the U.S. has gone through Dorling Kindersley, but with that company's current difficulties--it took very heavy charges recently against massive overprintings of its Star Wars titles--that strategy may have to be rethought. "We'll have to wait and see." A typical recent coproduction with DK was Walking with Dinosaurs, an ambitious TV series with spectacular computer animation, which will air on the Discovery Channel this spring with a bevy of tie-in books. The BBC already has a huge children's hit with "Teletubbies," and Weller says that licensed children's publishing is going to get bigger; something called "Tweenies" is next down the line.

The company, which d s about $700 million in annual book sales, has been building up its team in New York, currently with about 40 people (there are smaller offices in Miami, covering Latin America, and Washington). "We've been building our presence, but we're still sadly lacking in building our brand," says Weller.

At feisty little Fourth Estate, whose latest coup was to snatch the French bestseller-to-be If Only It Were True by Marc Levy for a comparatively cheap price from under the noses of Hollywood and big international publishers, the opening of an American branch looms ever nearer. Publisher Victoria Barnsley has been over several times, done "a lot of talking" and hopes to announce a U.S. beachhead of some kind in the next six months. It used to be easier, with good scouting, to get good properties in the U.S., but she now feels a presence is needed. "But if we open in the States, we want to bring some of our books in too, like Bloomsbury."

W.H. Smith, a key player in the British retailing scene--and caused shock waves by buying Hodder Headline last year--makes no secret of its interest in an American presence. "We're actively looking for an American acquisition," says Tim Blythe, the company's director of corporate affairs.

WHS is already active on the retailing side in the States, with a group of travel stores offering guides and maps, 35 airport book and magazine stores and a wholesale distribution business. Blythe says it is increasingly active in e-commerce, and with WHS Direct, working via British Telecom, offers the possibility of ordering direct via TV. An innovation is WH Books.co, with a prototype just opened off a motorway near London. This is a small bookshop with a limited stock in 2,000-3,000 sq. ft., but with terminals that connect customers via e-mail to the central warehouse offering 1.3 million titles.

Another of these is scheduled for opening soon in the U.S., perhaps as soon as this spring in the Chicago area, Blythe says. "We're refocusing our U.S. shops, along the lines of what we've been doing in the U.K., offering more books and magazines, less in sidelines."

The purchase of Hodder, and the likely addition soon of an American publisher, is also part of the company's Internet strategy, says Blythe: "It's all about owning content."

At Orion, managing director Peter Roche describes a large and varied group (including, recently, Gollancz and Cassell) that d s no fewer than 1,200 titles a year in hardcover and paperback, more than 800 of them new. The group has had success distributing illustrated books through Sterling in the U.S., send some titles through Trafalgar Square, "but there's no outlet for fiction, and we're looking to get an infrastructure going in the U.S." Meanwhile, Orion has launched Ph nix Press, reissuing a number of what it calls the best books of the last 50 years that have become unavailable, and starting a new classics line next month.

For Ian Chapman, recently installed at the head of Simon & Schuster, replacing Nick Webb, the mandate is to live up to the image of the company in the U.S., and he has begun with a month-long buying spree, bringing in several promising authors with two-book deals (but usually, and regretfully, failing to get the world rights he always seeks).

"So far, the U.K. company d sn't reflect the power of the company in the U.S.," he says. "We've had a lot of good properties, but we haven't been exploiting them sufficiently. I'd like the U.S. to get properties from us, instead of always the other way round." As part of the housecleaning, he has changed distribution (to HarperCollins's smooth machine), and is looking around to see how best he can increase, and improve, his staff.

Among the deals in his first few weeks on the job, Chapman lured Jackie Collins away from Pan Macmillan (his own previous home), so she is now an S&S author in London too, and made two-book deals with a new Irish novelist, Catherine Barry, with Stel Pavlou, whose huge novel Decipher, has just been sold to Hollywood, and with American author and scriptwriter John Fusc (Paradise Salvage). In nonfiction, S&S gets a lot from the American company, including Iyanla Vanzant, who d s well. The company bought Sidney Poitier's memoir from Harper San Francisco, and Chapman tried, but failed, to get Boris Yeltsin's (it went to Orion instead).

"I feel energized," concludez Chapman. "I'm convinced we can do better with what we've got here."

There are a couple of new American players on the English scene, one well known, one as yet comparatively obscure. The well-known one is Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, which has opened a London beachhead in the shape of Katherine Bright-Holmes,. a former editor at Hodder, the Women's Press, Chatto and Pandora. She explains that she will be scouting for new British clients for Consortium, along the lines of companies that already belong, like Marion Boyars, Serpent's Tail, Reaktion and Arcadia. New members will be encouraged to attend the Consortium sales conference and to hold pre-meeting conferences at which they can be advised on such questions as print runs and prices for the U.S. market. She will also represent Consortium at the major international book fairs (Katherine can be reached at kbh@cbsd.com).

A much smaller visitor was Tej Hazarika's Cool Grove Press from Brooklyn, N.Y., with offbeat fiction and p try (The Divine Duty of Servants by Rolando Perez is on its spring fiction list, along with p ms, Guru Punk by Louis Landes Levi). It has secured a British distribution arrangement with Parker Associates.

The Illustrated Book Market

Art and illustrated publishing remains alive and well in Britain, seemingly more so than in the States, and three very different branches have equally different approaches to the American market.

Phaidon Press, for instance, is a long-running house, born in Vienna 75 years ago, that has had its ups and downs, but in recent years seems to have settled into a strong niche as a publisher specializing in cutting-edge visual arts books, particularly strong in architecture and photography. Sales and marketing director John Roberts describes an operation that is thoroughly international, having had an active office in New York for the past two years, and about to open in Paris too. It has its own distribution and sales force in the U.S., having just moved into larger, sparklingly minimalist offices in Soho. With a wealth of strikingly designed monographs on trendy artists

and such blockbuster visual packages as Century, The Art Book and The Photo Book, Phaidon is doing the kind of all-out quality art publishing that is increasingly rare. Roberts and his reps cultivate both independent stores and the chain buyers, at home and abroad. "I think we're going against the trend, trying to reach out to the whole market."

Very different in scale, but equally dedicated to quality, is Booth-Clibborn Editions, whose managing director, Edward Booth-Clibborn, has just solved his U.S. distribution problems by signing a distribution agreement with Harry Abrams. He is a determined internationalist, who says that U.K. sales represent only a small part of his market--less than 10% on some titles. Booth-Clibborn looks for a younger market than normally buys art books, and experiments constantly with size and shape; he did a circular book on London's Centennial Dome, an offbeat book on sneakers, and a monograph on trendy artist Damien Hirst.

Yet another branch of illustrated publishing is represented by the Octopus Group, which now shelters such imprints as Mitchell Beazley, Conran Octopus, Hamlyn and mapping specialist Philip's from new waterside headquarters down in London's soaring Docklands area.

Caroline Proud at Conran Octopus describes a lifestyle list that trades on such name authors as Terence Conran himself and whose books depend on strong design and lavish illustration. U.S. customers include Clarkson Potter, Bulfinch, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, but American publishers, she says, are now buying less, and it's tougher to sell there than it used to be. Special sales (e.g., with stores like Pottery Barn) are strong in the U.S., but the British market d sn't have many such chains and those that do exist don't usually take books.

Alison Goff at Hamlyn (named after Octopus Books' legendary, now aged, founder, Paul Hamlyn) d s most of her business overseas, with 20% of the market in the U.S.; American copublishers are now included in most of the print runs. She thinks the Hamlyn books had got rather far from their original image of inexpensive, reliable guides in areas like cookery and birds and is now trying to refocus on what they do best. There is a series, originally done for W.H. Smith in the U.K., that has been picked up by Time Life, and books have also been specially produced for the likes of Williams Sonoma, Nature Company and Target. Like other members of the Octopus group, Goff hopes to take advantage of a new U.S. distribution deal just arranged with Sterling for books on which there is no copublishing deal.

Jane Aspden at Mitchell Beasley said their operation was more text and author oriented than other Octopus partners, particularly strong in wine books (S&S in the U.S. partners on Hugh Johnson's wine books), gardening, art and interior design (Clarkson Potter is a partner here). Miller's antiques line is distributed through the Antique Collectors' Club and Beasley has also co-published with Chronicle (The Color Book and The Kitchen Planner).

The Retail Climate

For British publishers--not unlike our own--there is never a time when the retail climate is exactly the right temperature and humidity. During our February visit, the two things weighing on the minds of most publishers seemed to be "Whither Waterstone's?" and W.H. Smith's increasingly aggressive stance on discounts.

Waterstone's, bought by Smith's several years ago as an upmarket chain, then sold to Thorn-EMI, which seems, according to several publishers, to not quite know what to do with it, was the heavier burden. For literary publishers and serious nonfiction publishers alike, the chain as founded and run by Tim Waterstone was a vital outlet, its managers creative and given considerable buying autonomy--almost like a collection of lively independent stores under one management, as someone put it. That quality now seems to have been lost; the stores seemed to a number of observers to be somewhat directionless, and there is widespread fear that heavy returns are on the way as the chain rethinks its stock mix.

There were suggestions from some, pooh-poohed by others, that Tim Waterstone might be planning to buy back the chain, and it seems increasingly unlikely that its current corporate owners will want to hang on to it. Victoria Barnsley at Fourth Estate, just the sort of publisher most beholden to the chain in the past, is blunt: "Our single biggest problem is with Waterstone's," and she, like a number of others, is looking increasingly to Internet sales to make up the lag in general High Street retailing. (Amazo.co.uk is still way ahead here, but Bertelsmann's Bol.com, bolstered by frequent rumors that it might be planning to go public, is seen as a strong potential contender.)

Helen Fraser, MD of Penguin General Books, who believes her company outperformed the market last year, and already enjoys a strong start to 2000 with a first novel, White Teeth, a big January bestseller (to Ann Godoff at Random in the U.S.), thinks Waterstone's is improving its stock quality, but worries about too many backlist titles coming back. She is "reasonably sanguine" about Smith's, and is not too concerned about talk of higher discounts.

Gail Rebuck and Simon Master, talking as a twosome, as usual, at Random House, are also concerned about Waterstone's, and describes the current state of the market, rather dauntingly, as "flat and steady." Master adds, "Growth is increasingly hard to come by via bricks and mortar"; and he sees the chains pulling back from some of the expansions they were planning as recently as a year ago. One anomaly they have noted about their relationship with W.H. Smith: "Our sales to them are actually down, but they are claiming the sales of our books are up," said Master

In terms of e-books and the electronic marketplace, both see the necessity of "serious investment" to digitize material to the appropriate platform. "The real question is: 'Will it be economic?' " said Rebuck. "It's a tough call for general books."

One question concerning them about the increasing discount pressure and the heavy loss-leading at the supermarkets is the perceived value of books. "I think many customers unjustly see books as too expensive," says Rebuck. An active leader in the recent campaigns for children's reading initiatives, she adds: "Maybe it's time for a campaign to stress the value of books." (And indeed their prices, in comparison to the constantly skyrocketing costs of eating out and hotel accommodations in London, have remained remarkably stable of late.)

At HarperCollins, MD Adrian Bourne and sales and marketing manager David North both describe a situation, under new Harper president Jane Friedman in New York, of much closer linkage with the American branch, buying world rights wherever possible and seeking synergistic arrangements with Fox and other News Corp. properties.

North sees a situation of too much discounting, meaning that publishers are selling more books but not improving their margins. HC had a "fantastic" Christmas, with two Frank McCourt tittles--Angela's Ashes in paperback (1.4 million sold, including a movie tie-in edition) and 'Tis, with more than 500,000 in hardcover. Bourne saw a big shift to very large campaigns--Hannibal, Harry Potter--in which the chains were all promoting similar books, competing more strongly over them, and as a result keeping them going longer. There were reduced levels in subscriptions on some books as a result of supply chain shifts, but better delivery on the books that did work.

All in all, they thought Harper's distribution machinery was the best in the business--a feeling borne out by the Nibbies judges, who gave the company the Supply Chain Performer of the Year award (see sidebar). Meanwhile, they were still recovering from the shock waves set off by Eddie Bell's departure as president of the U.K. division, and wondering what the future will bring.

At Little, Brown, Philippa Harrison's "long-planned" decision also to step down from active leadership has caused another stir, though she insists that after a sabbatical she'll be available to consult. Meanwhile, bringing in David Young as managing director was a way to "establish calm in a storm."

Harrison predicts that over the next year there will be "some quite startling changes" in the English book trade, not the least of them at Smith's, where "I don't think they've learned yet what selling books is about." Young's comment: "I think the knowledge on the book publishing side is currently much greater than it is in retail. As far as I'm concerned, WHS and Waterstone's both seem to be know-nothings."

A publisher that is now, of course, an element of Smith's is Hodder Headline, where Headline MD Amanda Ridout talks of an arrangement that "is totally standalone--we just haven't noticed any differences." As to worries expressed in some quarters that WHS might give preference to Hodder titles and make a kind of own-brand out of them, Ridout thinks that quite unrealistic. "There may be some activity like that on the educational reference and children's sides, but nonfiction really isn't our thing." She estimates that 70% of Headline's titles are fiction, and for the group as a whole it is as high as 65%.

The company had a very good year, with no fewer than 11 titles in the Guardian's fast sellers list, many of them first-time authors. In fact, the company prides itself on taking on more first novelists than any other, with particular concentration these days on the "feisty female market," including some lively Irish authors. Ridout's also trying to bring back historical fiction, though acknowledges that narrative nonfiction, especially "geographic history and quirky history" sells the most foreign rights.

She has one interesting word of wisdom that could apply to publishers on both sides of the Atlantic: "I think retailer fatigue sets in much sooner than consumer fatigue, and that's something sales forces have to bear in mind. You have to be careful not to write things off too soon."

The official view of the retailing scene comes from the unflappable Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association, whose group maintains a "broad church" policy toward both chain and independent booksellers, seeking to downplay conflicts between them and admitting all who sell books (even supermarket chains) to membership.

In his view, the last couple of months of 1999, before the very late Christmas season kicked in, were probably tougher on the chains than the indies, with the chains preoccupied even yet with deciding how best to profit from e-commerce: via "clicks and mortar" or through a con- centration on online selling. He thinks e-books could begin to make an impact on the market this year, and also foresees kiosks for print-on-demand in some stores before the end of 2000. Godfray says he thought that when the Net Book Agreement ended five years ago it was the indies who would "see the bloodletting." Instead, it was "library suppliers who got it in the neck." His membership, says Godfray, is virtually static, with some indies departing, but their places taken by new chain units.

Godfray is particularly proud of Batch.co, an online service that allows member booksellers to pass all their publisher invoices through a Web site, have them vetted for completeness, returns allowances, etc., and pay, all through the facilities of the BA-operated online site. This is currently being tested at about 100 stores, and will be introduced to the trade at the London Book Fair. The recent study of the supply chain has completed its first two phases and is now awaiting implementation, though government funding is no longer available. The ultimate aim is to save both sides money on the returns process; Sandra Paul, says Godfray, is up to date on progress for possible implementation in the U.S. market when ready.

The More Things Change...

There are many constants about the British book scene, and one of them is its cheery collegiality. This was notably reflected during PW's week in London by a party thrown one night for visiting fireman Larry Ashmead from HarperCollins in the U.S. It was given by David Higham's Bruce Hunter in his North London house, and just about tout le monde from London publishing crowded his book-lined drawing room: agents, editors, senior publishing execs, scouts, even book trade journalists. It is difficult--no, impossible--to imagine such a scene in New York, where the only time large numbers of book folk get together tends to be at official events like book awards or the Literary Guild soiree, never under private auspices.

This kind of camaraderie is also reflected in the Publishers' Cabaret, an extrav-aganza put on every year for the past several years just before the London Book Fair starts. This year the show, a cross between a "panto" and a revue, is called "2001: A Publishing Oddity," and it's on Friday and Saturday nights, March 17 and 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the auditorium at the Olympia Conference Centre. (Box office is at 870-905-9055, and tickets cost the equivalent of $25, in aid of the Book Trade Benevolent Fund.) The organizers, who this year include agents Carole Blake, Jonathan Lloyd and Andrew Nurnberg, and Hodder's Martin Neild, work frantically hard to put it all together, calling rehearsals for the large and variegated cast at breakfast time and whenever they can fit them into busy days. There is naturally, this being Britain, a bit of cross-dressing (Patrick Janson-Smith at Transworld makes a ravishing Camilla Parker-Bowles, for instance) and a great deal of irreverent fun at the expense of authors, publishers, agents, booksellers and indeed, anyone connected with books.

Then there's the bluff good cheer of Ronnie Williams, chief executive of the Publishers Association, which seems, after he's been in office only a couple of years, reassuringly eternal. Yes, the market is currently flat, he asserts, "and in a world gone mad for discounting, there are all sorts of problems, many of them new to us." He reflects a little wistfully that back in the days of the Net Book Agreement, for which the PA fought hard, it was somehow easier to fix things.

He, like the Random team, is particularly concerned about the "serious disconnection" between price and perceived value. "We used to teach people to make price comparisons, but now they're going outside the retail trade for what they see as value." He thinks that in price comparisons with U.S. hardcovers. British books come out well, though on paperbacks Americans have the advantage.

The strength of the pound is still, as it has been for a while now, crippling book exports, and despite a continuing chronic over-production of titles (Britain, with a population 20% the size of America's, still produces just as many new books each year) and a continuing boom in bookstores, "It's too patchy to be able to say there's saturation in books or bookstores."

As for association affairs, there are plans to put more money into the joint anti-piracy project run with the AAP, try to get the WIPO treaties through Parliament and rebuild the PA's Web site. World Book Day is now officially sanctioned, and should soon have its own director. The supply chain study, as Godfray noted, has "crossed its watershed" and is now up for implementation. Meanwhile, Williams's problem is "to take a trade association that is by nature reactive and make it proactive: We must play off the front foot, as the English say." Still, in summary, "No one's jumping out of windows."

Changing Shapes Ahead?

There are signs of change abroad, however. For a start, the questions of who will fill the very large gaps left by the departures of Eddie Bell and Philippa Harrison at Harper and Little, Brown, respectively, fill the book world with speculation and rumor. The name of Penguin's Helen Fraser often came up in connection with one or the other spot, and there was certainly a feeling that wh ver fills the positions will set off a chain of musical chairs at upper levels of British publishing.

Another notable change is in the role of veteran editor (and co-founder) Liz Calder at Publisher of the Year Bloomsbury, stepping down from the chief editorship to work only with her own stellar stable of authors (including Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood, both with new books on the way); she insists that she is certainly not retiring, simply handing over the acquisi-tion reins to former agent Alexandra Pringle.

Calder also takes some time to explain the house's recently announced relationship with Bob Bookman's Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles. "We'll give them a first look at any property on which we have the rights, and we'll even do some scouting for them," she says. Pringle herself, who began in publishing (at Virago) and is now returning there, describes satisfaction at being able to play a role in the entire process of a book. "I didn't take to corporate publishing, but then when I became an agent it was frustrating when I felt the publishing wasn't being done well."

At Penguin, Helen Fraser believes advances are down somewhat, even for the more exciting properties, and "more realism prevails. I think the shrewder agents are beginning to realize it's better to look for proper editing and strong support in the house rather than necessarily getting six figures for everything."

Random, say Rebuck and Master, have pretty much completed the absorption of Transworld and its family into the group. "There are synergies, on things like print buying, and harmonizing relationships with customers, establishing a common infrastructure." But Rebuck insists that they remain separate publishing cultures, and there are no plans, as in New York, to bring the various units together under one roof; Transworld is likely to remain for various reasons, not least its advantageous cost structure, out in the wilds of Ealing in West London.

The flow of titles from U.K. authors to the U.S. remains strong, and according to Caradoc King at A.P. Watt, who figures his agency sells more titles to the States than any other, "New English writers are really coming through and making their mark in the U.S." He, like many U.S. authors and agents, is concerned, however, about the question of electronic rights. "The publishers want to control them, but they've never done much with them in the past." Meanwhile, there is the whole question of e-book royalties: "It d sn't cost publishers much to do them."

He and Victoria Barnsley at Fourth Estate both agree that it's easier to launch a new writer, particularly a literary writer, in Britain than in the States, probably because the major newspapers, particularly the "quality" Sunday ones, have national circulation, and a new book can get a great deal of simultaneous review attention on a national scale impossible in the U.S., where the market is much more fragmented.

It's not for nothing they call it a "tight little island."

All Set for a Bustling London Book Fair

From tiny beginnings in a hotel ballroom, the London Book Fair (it dropped the word "International" this year as superfluous) is celebrating its 30th birthday in 2000 as arguably the third most important fixture on the international publishing calendar, after Frankfurt and the BEA. And it continues to grow.

More than 25% of the exhibitors at this year's fair (March 18-21 at Olympia) are from overseas, with the largest space taken by Americans (Random U.S. has a large stand). No fewer than 10% of the overseas exhibitors are showing in London for the first time.

In terms of rights trading, the fair is increasingly seen as a key date, and the International Rights Centre on the balcony is expanding yet again; this year there are 320 agents, scouts and editors who have booked a total of 235 tables, a registration almost double that of last year.

There are a number of special features for the overseas visitors, including an all-day seminar on Saturday, March 18, on "The Realities of Rights Trading Today," sponsored by the Publishers Association, and another on Monday, March 20, on "Marketing and Selling Books in Africa," organized in association with the Zimbabwe International Book Fair.

The growing importance of the Internet to rights trading is being stressed by two arrangements the LBF has made to help participants offer and trade wares online. One is with Frankfurt Virtual, the Frankfurt Book Fair's Web site. Any publisher or Rights Centre registrant who participates in both fairs can display titles on the 14,000-strong rights catalogue that is part of the site. Rights Centre attendees can also tap in, free, to rightscenter.com, the California-based extranet that allows rights business to be conducted securely over it. Any title entered and activated before July can be placed free of charge for a year (usual cost: $250 per title). Titles can be placed for general or restricted access.

The fair will offer much more than usual for those interested in the development of e-commerce, with seminars set for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday on such issues as e-books, the role of Web marketing, how book fairs fit into the e-trading picture, and the future of the supply chain. The European Union Directive on Copyright, which could have far-reaching effects on the use of copyrighted mate-rial within member states, will also be discussed, at a session on Monday.

The fair has, of course, its own Web site, which is constantly being updated with new information (www.libf.com).

Publishing's Pride: The Nibbies

The annual awards for the British book trade organized by Publishing News have become an annual rite of (very early) spring, and if success can be measured by the overflow attendance at London's Park Lane Hilton Hotel, it's become very much the place to see and be seen, an industry ceremony on a scale even more expansive than our own National Book Awards--and directed toward everyone in the business, not just authors.

To no one's surprise, Bloomsbury, home of that international phenomenon, the Harry Potter books, won as Publisher of the Year, and chief executive and founding father Nigel Newton took pains to pay tribute to the company's children's division, its reference and electronics side (which created the internationally successful Encarta) and the fledgling Blooomsbury USA. The company's prize author, J.K. Rowling, was also named as Author of the Year, and another Bloomsbury title, Anna Pavord's The Tulip, won the Design & Production award.

Chain Bookseller of the Year, also no surprise, went to Waterstone's new and hugely expansive branch in Piccadilly, four floors in the shell of the old Simpson's building. Best independent bookseller award went to a store called the Lion and Unicorn, in suburban Richmond, Surrey, originally opened by author Roald Dahl.

The Booksellers Association's laid-back but dynamic chief executive Tim Godfray took the Services to Bookselling award.

Children's Book of the Year was The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson, published by Doubleday, and adult Book of the Year was also an English specialty, Managing My Life by a celebrated soccer manager, Alex Ferguson (published by Hodder).

Illustrated Book of the Year was Phaidon Press's bulky photographic record, Century.

Editor (and imprint) of the year was Louise Moore at Michael Joseph, a Penguin imprint, and HarperCollins took awards both for sales rep of the year (Vanessa Clarke) and Supply Chain Performer.

Another peculiarly English institution, Spike Milligan, 81, comedian (he helped launch The Goon Show with Peter Sellers), p t, prolific author and conservation and animal rights activist, took the Lifetime Achievement award.

The only real look-in for anything U.S.-related was the Marketing Campaign of the Year for Heinemann's efforts on behalf of Thomas Harris's Hannibal.
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