London Book Fair Interviews: Charly Ford of Osprey Group

In the run up to The London Book Fair (see us on Stand X610), we are running a series of interviews with some prominent and interesting figures in the book publishing industry. Asking them for their thoughts on hot button issues that are currently resonating throughout the industry.

Our second interview is with Charly Ford, Digital Publishing Manager at Osprey Group. Outside of office hours she organises BookMachine Oxford and is on the Oxford Publishing Society committee.

1. When do you see print and digital reaching an “equilibrium” point?

In cases where consumers have taken to digital I think we’re at a sort of equilibrium already. These customers – myself included – engage with a range of print and digital content in a variety of ways. When thinking about Osprey Group’s output, our Nourish imprint has a fantastic, weighty, hardback book – The Big Book of Juices – that we are currently turning into a great app. The app is going to be just as brilliant as the book, but the separate versions are likely to be bought and used in different ways.

2. What do you think publishers can do to better sell print products in a digital age?

We’ve benefitted hugely from making out-of-print backlist titles available once again through print on demand; if people want to buy your backlist but can’t find copies anywhere, that’s definitely a hole to plug. If you are able to, I recommend spending time building communities and establishing relationships with your target audience. It’s something that we focus on at Osprey and we’re really proud to be holding an ongoing dialogue with our customers.

3. Do you think there are inherent advantages to a print copy over a digital copy, and vice versa?

Definitely – which means there’s lots to weigh up when assessing strategy. Both print and digital have huge strengths, so both ought to be maximised. One of our most successful series of military history books focuses on specific battles. These are strong sellers in print, and collectors are keen on owning as many of the 270-strong series as possible. However we are also experimenting with this same content digitally – we have been making certain volumes of the series available online via subscription. Our World War II Military History Magazine incorporates a complete book and includes some extra material too. It’s safe to say that this is a neat way of experimenting with repeat custom in the digital space.

4. What genres of digital books are seeing the most success?

A whole range – there’s heaps to be inspired by. Fiction does really well in digital but there’s definitely scope to do interesting things with non-fiction. I shan’t give too much away here but we are working on a number of really promising projects across Osprey group so do keep your eyes peeled.

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