Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Keep It Salted

Another of Salt publisher Chris Hamilton-Emery's amazing Facebook notes, in which he reveals the commitment he and Jen have made to their authors and the difficulties they nevertheless face in these testing times:
"I've been pondering on our sales and the trading difficulties many independent literary and small presses are facing. Sales are slowing, and slowing dramatically. Last year, November's trade sales (i.e. through shops) were triple what they are this year. And we'd budgeted to grow.

It's been a similar picture over the past seven months, when looking at our total sales (i.e. trade and direct, globally), it's all slowing down. Overall growth dropped from 72% in 2007-2008 to 4% for 2008-2009. Oddly, in this tough trading climate, Salt's trade sales (as a subset of total sales) have increased comparing the current 12 month's total to the previous (known as the MAT: moving annual total); we've increased trade sales by 65%, but that figure is beginning to slip now. I wonder where it will be at our year end on 31 March 2009?

The business has benefited hugely from an Arts Council grant over the past three years, which gave us around £50K a year of investment, but this money has run out now, and that loss of income and the decline in budgeted sales has led to a cash crisis (something all publishers face each year). And we're looking at some substantial changes in keeping Salt running."

Chris's Facebook notes and the Salt blogs have revealed the engaging and impressive spectacle of a couple managing a family life with three children while conducting the monumental feat of turning Salt into one of the most respected independent presses in the UK.

Their books are wonderful, containing some of the most stimulating literature around and beautifully produced. I urge you to go directly to their website and see the wealth on offer - and the best Christmas presents you could possibly buy for your literary (and non-literary) friends for a whacking 33% discount with their Christmas offer. And you can join Salt's Poetry and Story Banks: stunning hardback first editions picked for you by Salt for your annual subscription.

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