How Publishing Trends Are Influenced by Historical Context: A Conversation with Daniel Bunyard

publishing trends

How Publishing Trends Are Influenced by Historical Context: A Conversation with Daniel Bunyard

Episode #21 – How Publishing Trends Are Influenced by Historical Context: A Conversation with Daniel Bunyard

By Marleen Seegers, Co-Founder of 2 Seas Agency and Host of The Make Books Travel Podcast

September 11, 2020

Publishing trends

Daniel Bunyard

Today’s guest is Daniel Bunyard, Publishing Director and Head of Non-Fiction Publishing at Penguin Michael Joseph in the UK.

Dan has been looking in detail at historical sales of books, in an effort to better understand what people’s book buying motivations and patterns are. Why did certain books sell well at a given moment in time, and why did others hardly sell any copies during that same period?

What book trends and buying patterns are we seeing in times of Corona?

These are fascinating and important questions to ask for us publishing folks.

Here are some of the questions I asked Dan during our interview:

  • What is the situation in the UK currently in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Can you briefly describe the immediate impact of the pandemic on your activities at Michael Joseph?
  • When did you start your research about the influence of historical context on publishing trends, and what were your motivations to do so?
  • Did you focus on any specific markets (countries/languages), genres and/or age groups?
  • Where does one start, when there’s such an enormous amount of information to process?
  • What are the main conclusions from your research?
  • Have you applied any specific elements you’ve learned to your acquisitions
  • You finished writing your paper right before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. What are your thoughts about, and observations of, the current changing market?
  • What do you think may happen in the next decade or so in terms of publishing trends and book buying habits, considering the times we live in?
Show Notes
  • About Daniel

Make Books Travel Podcast

Daniel Bunyard is a Publishing Director and Head of Non-fiction publishing at Penguin Michael Joseph, a division of Penguin Random House. After starting his career in academic publishing, working on history and philosophy titles at Palgrave Macmillan, he worked successively for John Blake, Orion and HarperCollins before moving to Penguin as a commissioning editor for commercial non-fiction.

  • About his research

Daniel’s paper on how publishing trends are influenced by historical context has not yet been published, and we will update this information with the references once it’s available.

In the meantime you can watch his interview about this topic with Angus Phillips, who runs the journal that is publishing his paper.

Thank you for listening, and enjoy!

End of season 1

After today’s episode I’m putting my recordings on hold for a short while. Even though I won’t be traveling, things will get a little crazy and intense in the weeks leading up to and during the virtual Frankfurt Book Fair mid-October, with plenty of video meetings and such.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will gradually move to European time so I can make the most of this important book fair season. I’m in the Pacific time zone, which means there’s a 9-hour time difference to overcome. It will be a first to be working on night shifts, and I’m curious to see how it will play out…

In any case the podcast will return after the virtual Frankfurt Book Fair with a second season!

PS: If you are a publishing professional and are interested in participating in a new podcast episode, let us know!

PPS: Listen to The Make Books Travel podcast on the following channels — and leave a positive review if you enjoy what you hear:


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