Murray Books recently signed up to IPR and now has 14 key titles displayed on the platform. We met up with the company’s Director Peter Murray, based in Adelaide in Australia, and asked him to explain a little bit more about the work that he does and what he hopes to achieve from this new partnership with IPR.
Tell us a little bit about your background – you started as a printer, but now you operate as a packager, is that right?
I have been into books and publishing since I was 15 years old. In fact, I still have the very first book I made when I was 14! Yes, I was a printer, bookbinder, film and plate maker for several years. That led to typesetting and design. I used to look after smaller publishers who would give me their books to design and print. In 1979, I decided to start publishing myself and released two national magazines in Australia. By 1983, I had 3 best-selling books under my belt as a writer – all on cricket of course! Through the years I have written on several subjects but was forced to employ a team of writers in 2000 that were experts in their field. I became a packager because of my design skills. In 1985 when Apple Computers, Photoshop and Quark Xpress appeared, I was able to control everything on the desktop and went straight to press. I was one of the first Australian publishers who started to use China as suppliers in the 80s for all printing.
It’s appropriate that you ask about packaging at this time. On July 1, 2018, I made the decision to simply publish as the publishing world is not as it once was. As a packager, you always risk giving publishers your ideas and this has been proven recently with several of our new concepts. Publishers used to have a code of conduct – we would treat each other with professionalism and respect. But as publishers get desperate to survive, they don’t mind trampling on the smaller guys. Several packagers have hit the wall recently because they somehow believed that their business model of publishing dead books with new covers for the cheapest price would work. There are more falls to come this year.
You have worked with some major customers. Can you give us some examples of the kind of companies or organisations you have produced books for? We understand you have been dealing with NASA recently…. What was that for?
Through the years, we have produced several official books for major bodies including FIFA – The Official Football World Cup books, NASA – One Small Step – the 40thAnniversary of Apollo 11, The Rugby World Cup, The Cricket World Cup, Formula One, The International Olympic Committee, Basketball, Golf, Baseball, AFL to name a few. We invented the world’s first tactile book that looked and felt like the real thing in 2005. This opened the door for us as a unique offering and thankfully, we had a decade of amazing sales and concepts. We are currently producing the 50thAnniversary book of the moon landing – The Eagle Has Landed – with astronaut Buzz Aldrin providing the foreword. Its very exciting and we will attend the Apollo celebrations in Florida later this month to launch the book. For the 40th anniversary book, actor Harrison Ford launched our book in the USA.
You now have 14 titles listed on the IPR platform. Tell us what your aims are from this new partnership?
Murray Books has been attending the major Book Fairs regularly including Frankfurt, London and New York. It is a major expense for our team to visit and exhibit 3 times a year all the way from Australia. We were looking for a more convenient way to sell our rights given that technology plays a major role in our industry nowadays. The only serious platform available is IPR currently who have a strong relationship with Frankfurt Book Fair. We were advised that IPR have a large database of rights buyers as well as a major subscription list which would save us valuable time and expense should we target buyers via email and the IPR platform. We now also provide IPR with two major opportunities;
- To provide buyers with more commercial mass-market titles
- To provide publishers with the service of producing books that they require
We are also able to deal directly with retailers who require specifically produced books for their audience. This is a first for the industry and a major offering by IPR.
Your books are very commercial. Your new book about Woodstock ’69, published to tie in with the 50thanniversary, includes a poster, and even a replica ticket to the original event. This sounds like a real collectors’ item. How did this book come about?
Back in 1969 when Woodstock was taking place in the USA, I was playing in bands across Australia. The event totally influenced me and introduced me to a whole new world of music. The planet changed considerably with a new direction in music and fashion as well as attitude. Little did I know at the time but a decade later, I would start my publishing business with a music magazine in Australia. I realised earlier this year that it was 50 years ago that the new generation was born at Woodstock and thought it was appropriate that we produce a book on the event. In typical fashion, I have introduced some tactile elements to the book with the introduction of a replica ticket and a copy of the original poster. Importantly, we have infused the book with the smell of marijuana (if required). For Australia, the fragrance has been changed to Incense.
What territories are you particularly keen on expanding into in terms of translation deals?
The world is expanding and a new generation of reader is now exposed. I would like to see rights sold throughout Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South America and those regions that are not normally exposed. Our books take a fresh look at their subjects and are not recycled products originally created decades ago, but brand new and exciting presentations. Some projects remain region specific. For example, we are producing two new books shortly on the 100thanniversaries of The Grand Canyon and NFL Football – both of which are of main interest in the USA.
Instead of selling on translation rights in the traditional manner, whereby a foreign-language publisher would be responsible for assembling all the content, you are looking for more of a co-edition arrangement. How would that work?
A publisher usually wants the works as a Word file, which they translate, design and place images we supply. They offer an advance and an agreed royalty. However, in some cases, we prefer to produce the works for them straight to print stage so we can control the quality. We receive great prices for printing in China because of our volume and trust our printers to produce a quality product and on time. We do not make any commission or profit from printing.
Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur?
Perhaps in my younger years! I now concentrate on my writing, design and creative ideas to help the publishing industry stay alive. Every dollar made in the company goes towards our Animal Rescue Sanctuary in the Adelaide Hills – Liberty Field Sanctuary. We look after unwanted, mistreated and aged horses and dogs and have recently set up a new division of the company specifically for this purpose – Benefact Books. Our first project is a horse book that we will be offering exclusively via social media to over 1 million animal lovers in Australia with every dollar going to assist our equine friends.
What are you currently reading for pleasure?
I don’t have time to read!! It’s more writing and research. I am currently researching a new book for 2019 on New Earth’s so I guess I am doing a lot of reading but in research mode. The last book I read was on the care of aged horses.