Monday, 23 August 2010

Websites for Writers: Ian Allan Publishing

This week on Websites for Writers we're looking at the homepage of specialist publisher Ian Allan Publishing. I've never worked for Ian Allan and probably never will, but like any writer familiar with them I'm impressed by their success.

First off, they're long-lived. They've been around since 1942. They're also successful, with thousands of books in their backlist, excellent brand recognition, good distribution, loyal readership, retail stores, and dominance in several genres.

So what do these guys publish? Nothing you'd have ever heard of unless you have the right obsession. Do you have a copy of London Transport in the 1960s on your shelf? How about Messerschmitt Bf109 at War? Maybe a subscription to Bus & Coach Preservation Magazine?

Ian Allan does not publish bestsellers. They don't even try to publish bestsellers. Instead they focus on transport, aviation, military hardware, modeling, and Masonic books. Why? Because there are a lot of people out there who love these subjects, and they loyally support companies that publish books about their enthusiasms.

So even if Ian Allan doesn't sell a lot of copies of A Dictionary of Passenger Ship Disasters, they'll have published something that someone really wants to read. And the sheer number of their books shows just how many of these micro-genres there are. Hundreds of titles on UK steam engines. More than a hundred on canals. Books on buses. Books on helicopters. Books on collecting WWII medals.

So check out Ian Allan's website to be reassured that no matter how obscure your subject, there's a publisher for you.

Image courtesy Martin Faulks via Wikimedia Commons.

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Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

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