AndrewFranklin1-200x300The Bookseller has just shared a report from this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, quoting a speech delivered by Andrew Franklin, founding head of UK independent publisher Profile Books. Regrettably, since I’m not present in person at the Book Fair, I’ll have to report The Bookseller‘s reporting. But what Franklin said confirms what you already suspected about Big Publishing.

For one thing, Franklin spoke of the “horrible and toxic competition” between the different imprints and teams within large publishing conglomerates for the same books. But such competition, he added, doesn’t mean that one or other team grabs the best books. Rather, they often miss the winners because they are focusing on meeting sales targets rather than picking the best titles, with “big targets to hit.”

And the Big Publishing staff busy cannibalizing each other may have nothing else to live on. Franklin also condemned Big Publishing executives for awarding themselves large salaries while refusing to pay staff the official UK Living Wage. This is set at a London of £9.15 ($14.14) per hour and a rest-of-the-UK rate of £7.85 ($12.13) per hour. Companies like Barclays and KPMG have signed up to the Living Wage initiative: Big Publishing apparently doesn’t think it needs to.

Franklin complained that Profile was currently the only UK publisher signed up to the Living Wage, and called it “disgusting” and “immoral” that “c.e.o.s are paying themselves £1m [$1.55 million] or more a year and say they are not happy to pay their own members of staff £9 an hour.” Despite some diligent Googling, I’ve been unable to determine which Big Publishing CEOs are taking home so much, but have a look at the UK Big Five and take a wild guess …

The Bookseller, incidentally, awarded Profile Books its 2015 Independent Publisher of the Year award, which adds weight to Franklin’s condemnation. In any event, this is hardly news, but it’s definitely strong corroboration. So next time you hear a publisher puff themselves as a defender of Art and Culture against the likes of Amazon, ask how much they pay their staff…


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