Bellagio Publishing Network  

 BPN Newsletter Issue No 26-27, November 2000 



An Introduction To Publishing Management Ian Montagnes
ISBN 1 901830 06 3 124pp 1998 Association for the Development of Education in Africa, $21.50, £11.95, distributed by African Books Collective Ltd. Also available in French ISBN 1 901830 07 1

Review by Akoss Ofori-Mensah
Akoss Ofori-Mensah is the Managing Director of Sub Saharan Publishers; PO Box 358 Legon, Accra, Ghana. Tel +233 21 233371, fax +233 21 233371, e-mail:

An Introduction To Publishing Management deals with the nitty-gritty of publishing, e.g. exactly what makes a publishing house tick; how to run publishing as a business. Chapter 1 analyses the various functions that together constitute publishing; editorial, production, sales and marketing, distribution, finance and administration, and distinguishes between publishing and printing, which is just one of the processes of publishing. It also looks at the need for training and where to go.

A crucial issue, which is discussed in great detail in Chapter 2, is the development of school textbooks. The writer meticulously describes the nature of textbooks and the benefits and risks involved in publishing them. Publishers entering the textbook market need to ask and find answers to questions on pupil enrolment; projected pupil population by class for at least two years; government budget for textbooks currently and for how long; government policies on textbooks; textbook-pupil ratio; the life-span of a textbook. Does the Ministry make multiple approval and allow for competition, which also ensures better textbooks, or does the Ministry approve one book per subject area? Who owns the copyright of textbooks; the Ministry or the publisher/author? Is publishing impeded by customs duties on raw materials? All these issues need to be carefully considered before embarking on textbook publishing.

Furthermore, would-be textbook publishers should examine their resources, both financial and human, and decide whether they can put up the required investment. The constraints involved are listed. The book gives guidelines on choosing subjects, manuscript development and even possible adaptations, design and illustrations, editing and pre-testing.

Given the current donor funding for many book schemes in Africa, especially textbooks, any publisher would find this book a very useful companion. It is highly recommended for prospective publishers in that field, and already-established publishers would find the book a useful revision exercise.

So many publishers are preoccupied with getting their books from the press that they tend to forget about the balance sheet. They are thus bedevilled by inefficient finance and administration. An Introduction To Publishing Management shows how to make a title budget, including how to calculate the break-even point and keeping proper accounting records for the publishing house.

I would strongly recommend the book as a textbook for university students pursuing courses in the book industry; and for all publishers, especially African publishers. I am definitely happy to have a copy. [BPN no 26–27, 2000, p. 34.]

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