Tonight we’ll be celebrating 20 years of Policy Press at our party with many people from the past, present and future of Policy Press.
To get the spirit of nostalgia just right for the day we interviewed three Policy Pressers who’ve been part of the organisation from its basement beginnings – Ann Moore, Sales Manager (now retired), Dave Worth, Production Manager and Julia Mortimer, Assistant Director – to find out what they remember from way back when and how times have changed…
1) What was your first day at Policy Press like?
Dave: I never really had a first day at PP as I kind of was always around before it formed. And I can’t remember anyway!
Ann: I had been working at the School for Advanced Urban Studies (SAUS) on a part-time basis before becoming the Policy Press Publishing Assistant, so on my first day the staff were familiar but the work wasn’t. We processed and dispatched book, journal and report orders direct from the basement office – so I was the first contact for our customers and authors – from day one!
Julia: I started work at Policy Press’ predecessor SAUS publications on the day that everyone else had left to go on holiday so it was rather a baptism of fire! It was all fine though!
2) What did you love about the Press and your jobs in the first few years and how have things changed since then?
Dave: I used to all sorts including typesetting, designing catalogues, flyers etc., often without a computer! I didn’t realise at the time the effect that e-mail would have on us in the future and I’ve something of a love/hate relationship with it these days!
Ann: I loved being in control of everything that the Press was doing and dealing with it in-house. Distribution, sales channels, reporting and accounting, direct contact with customers and authors on a daily basis. The success of Policy Press and its growth couldn’t be managed like that though, so things had to change. My job went from direct marketing and distribution to managing distribution and sales channels through third parties.
Julia: I loved the social justice focus of PP, that I was working for something I had helped to create and truly believed in with other people who felt the same, just as I still do.
3) What makes Policy Press special to you?
Dave: The commitment of the staff at PP and for believing in what we are trying to achieve.
Ann: We make things happen, whatever it takes!
Julia: The people! As one of the founding members of PP I do think it is a unique and incredibly special place to work (but I would say that, wouldn’t I..?). We aim to work in full collaboration with our authors and publishing partners and that is something I think we do achieve. Policy Press is a fantastic place to work and I am so lucky to have such amazing colleagues (past and present). Alison is an inspiration as Director of the Press, she always goes the extra mile and her determination and energy have been instrumental in driving Policy Press forward to ever bigger and better things.
4) What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the past 20 years?
Dave: It has to be the speed of technological change and the impact of the web and digital communication.
Ann: Digital product and accessibility to content. The thought that we would be selling e-content, slicing and dicing and selling to a worldwide market at the touch of a button was something that you would have seen on ‘Tomorrow’s World’** 20 years ago!
Julia: The move to digital publishing has fundamentally changed publishing business models. It has created real difficulties for academic publishers though because sales models you could rely on to just about break even have been replaced by other much more volatile ones. The move towards Open Access publishing has been a massive part of the digital transformation and there are real positives and opportunities with Open Access as well as many uncertainties to be faced.
5) What are you most proud of in the last 20 years of being a Policy Presser?
Dave: Not being fired!
Ann: Being called a Policy Presser!! We succeeded in embracing so many new ideas and sales opportunities. Policy Press has never been afraid to try new sales offerings that even the larger publishers weren’t doing. The IPG award this year has given the Press the recognition it deserves.
Julia: Of helping to set it up in the first place, the fact that we have kept to our original principles, even though it has been really tough at times, and that we have published groundbreaking work by amazing authors which has had a positive impact in so many areas. I head up journals publishing and have been particularly proud of what has been achieved so far with our journals which are going from strength to strength. We have also made significant strides internationally.
6) What (if anything) would you go back and change if you had the chance to live the last 20 years all over again?
Dave: I would meet up with Production Managers from other presses more often.
Ann: I’d make sure that that book stand didn’t fall down in the first book launch I ever attended on my own and representing the Press – at the back of the conference hall with the delegates present!!
Julia: I think trying to cover such a range of output with limited resources has been tough – we have had to do all the things which the large publishers do with much deeper pockets – but I’m not sure that there is very much I think we shouldn’t have done!
7) Describe your feelings towards Policy Press in five words
Dave: It’s been an incredible journey.
Ann: Pride, passion, belief, achievement and comradery.
Julia: Passionate, proud, privileged [to be part of the press….]
8) What are your hopes for the next 20 years?
Dave: That when some of us pack it in at retirement we hand it over in a good shape.
Ann: I hope that the next 20 years sees the Policy Press reach its full potential with the important work it publishes reaching a worldwide audience and receiving the recognition it deserves for that work. It will offer its customers what they need in the format they need it in. I wish all its amazing staff and authors the very best for a fabulous future.
Julia: I hope Policy Press is able to carry on doing what it does so well and sticks to its core values in the ever challenging publishing economic environment. I also hope it gets increasing recognition internationally which it thoroughly deserves. Policy Press has achieved so much in the past 20 year and I know it will always focus on making a difference.