Posts Tagged 'Alison Shaw'

“Unbelievably proud and stunned!” Winning the Independent Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year 2016

The Independent Publishers Guild  (IPG), the key publishing industry trade body for independent publishers, have been running their annual award programme now for 10 years.
With Policy Press already celebrating 20 years of publishing with a purpose, we were thrilled first to be short listed  for the Frankfurt Book Fair Independent Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year award and then to be announced last week as winners of the award.
 Director Alison Shaw shares her thoughts and feelings on what winning this award means to her…

Alison ShawAs anyone who knows me will appreciate, I’m not one for the limelight – much better to plug away doing the best job we can for our authors, customers and partners. BUT I have to say that receiving this award was amazing!

I was sure we couldn’t win as we were shortlisted with three fantastic publishers Berghahn Books, Bloomsbury Publishing and SAGE Publications. How could we beat that? Despite the determination that we wouldn’t win, on the day the tension mounted as the preceding awards were announced at the IPG Awards Dinner.

The shortlisted names were read out and why they had been shortlisted. For PP the judges said

Policy Press had a standout year in 2015, publishing a range of important, influential and well-reviewed books, experimenting with activities including short reads, apps and freemium content and hitting record turnover.

“It has increased sales and stepped up its publishing in a difficult market, and that takes a lot of nerve,” judges said. “It really punches above its weight.”

and the winner is…..Policy Press

Then we heard it ‘the winner is …. Policy Press’ – I could have cried (and nearly did).

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Director Alison Shaw and Assistant Director Julia Mortimer receiving the award

Assistant Director Julia Mortimer, who has been with me from the start of Policy Press, and I headed for the stage – what to say? Well to start with I was pretty speechless – as you can see from this photo:

All I knew was I wanted to say three things:
– that this award was for the team, both present and past, who made it happen and who are all so committed and passionate about our mission to make a difference and to provide the best service to our authors and partners;

– that highlighting the social problems society faces – whether here, in Europe or around the world – and trying to find ways to improve life for disadvantaged people is vitally important;

– that from the moment I went to my first IPG event, I have received advice and mentoring from many other wonderful publishers, including our group of excellent UK university presses. There can be few industries that show such support for each other, even when in competition.

I think I said this in a roundabout way, I probably went on too long, but I meant every word sincerely and deeply.

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Alison and Julia celebrating with some well deserved champagne on the night

This recognition by our industry means so much to me, and to the team. It means that all the hard work over 20 years incrementally building a business from its tiny start was worth it.

It says ‘thank you’ to the amazing authors, editors and partners that we work with and without whom we could not have won the award. It also shows that the faith the University of Bristol has shown in us has been repaid a little.

Many thanks to the IPG for all the support to independent publishers over many years, to the Frankfurt Book Fair for sponsoring the award and to the judges for carefully assessing the individual merits of presses from large multinationals to small university presses.

I always aimed that the work we do will make a difference – to improve lives, to make things a little bit better – and I think that on Thursday evening I actually felt that perhaps that might be true!

Celebrations back at the office on Friday

Celebrations back at the office on Friday

 

If you liked this you might also be interested in….

IPG Meet the Member: Policy Press
Policy Press Shortlisted for the IPG Frankfurt Book Fair Academic & Professional Publisher of the Year Award 2016

Policy Press celebrates 20 years of publishing with a purpose

IPG Meet the Member: Policy Press

Alison Shaw introduces Policy Press on the IPG ‘Meet the Member’ blog, sharing the Policy Press story, discussing why being independent is so important and what the current challenges are in academic publishing. First published 23 February here.

Alison Shaw1 What’s your company called?

Policy Press, University of Bristol.

2 What do you publish?

Work on social issues for academics, students and professionals, written by professors and young scholars through to social workers, journalists and MPs. Our list includes monographs, scholarly trade books, textbooks, policy and practice work and journals, and we’ve just produced our first app. Everything is in print and multiple digital forms. Continue reading ‘IPG Meet the Member: Policy Press’

Austerity Christmas: Why are the most vulnerable footing the bill for the country’s debts?

In addition to the revelry and merry making, Christmas is a time for reflecting on the past year. Director Alison Shaw looks back on the political play of 2014 and throws out some tough questions well worth ruminating on over the turkey and the cake this holiday season.

Policy Press - 018 resizeWhilst we publish work at Policy Press that challenges social problems, our team, like most of our readers and community, will be spending time this Christmas in comfort with families and friends (for which I am extremely grateful). I am conscious however that there are an enormous number of people who face a Christmas of poverty, distress and loneliness.

I can’t help but think, at this time of giving gifts and consuming an abundance of food, what about those people who cannot do this for their children and family, who are suffering from yet more cuts to their income and the services that support them? How do you actually live when your benefits have been sanctioned and you have no money for a month or three – nothing – zero. How about this for Christmas cheer:

“It’s Christmas Day. You don’t do any jobsearch, because it’s Christmas Day. So you get sanctioned. For not looking to see if anyone has advertised a new job on Christmas Day.” (Source: Poverty Alliance)

It is positively Dickensian. And not in the warm, comforting glow of A Christmas Carol.

The surprised look on the childrens faces when Father Christmas tells them he has fogotton the presents Credit: TheirHistory

1930s: The surprised look on the childrens’ faces when Father Christmas tells them he has forgotten the presents. Photo credit: TheirHistory

Reflecting on 2014, we have seen tough public spending cuts in the UK with promises of substantially more taking us back to 1930s level of public spending. What pains me is the severe hardship some of our most vulnerable citizens are in. There is constant talk from all the main parties of reducing the deficit, a seeming consensus, but what surprises me is the lack of animated public debate about this assumption. Surely the political decisions as to where the cuts happen, how much money needs to be saved and over what period needs questioning when the poor and vulnerable are seemingly bearing the biggest burden.

historic picture

I briefly looked at the historic picture to gain a longer view. According to the ONS September 2014 data General Government net borrowing (‘deficit’) was 5.9% of GDP in 2013/14 and gross debt was 87.8% of GDP. I think our debt has ranged from over 200% of GDP during World War II to as low as 25% in 1992, with the period from the 1920s to the mid 60s seeing debts of at least 100%, and often much higher, which seems to suggest we can live for long periods with a debt that is higher than the current one.

“..it makes me question whether the mantra that we have to cut the deficit is in fact a political position…”

I guess the key issue is the cost of servicing the debt, and again a longer view helps put the current situation in context: post World War II we paid about 4% of GDP in interest and by the 2000s it had dropped to 2%. The cost is now expected to be around 3%. So it makes me question whether the mantra that we have to cut the deficit is in fact a political position being taken around the size of government and public spending and not based on a necessity, as we are led to believe.

So, the point of all this is to really question why we are pulling back from helping those most in need? I admit to being incredulous that when we are one of the wealthiest countries in the world over 900,000 UK citizens had to be fed by The Trussel Trust food banks in 2013-14 because they could not eat without it. How did we get here?

I’m grateful that there is a growing body of accessible data on the subject of government spending and that we’ve been able to contribute to this over the past couple of months, enabling people to take a closer look at the numbers through publishing books such as Good times, bad times and Why we can’t afford the rich. Getting that kind of research out into the public domain is to my mind essential and it is only by increasing awareness of the cold hard facts, of encouraging people to interrogate the numbers with ever greater attention to detail, that we’re really going to be able to call our politicians to account. This of course is going to be something that will become ever more important as we run into the General Election in the UK next year.

Robin in the snow, Martin Mere. Photo credit: Gidzy

Robin in the snow, Martin Mere. Photo credit: Gidzy

Thanks to the tremendous support we’ve received this year from our authors and editors, customers and readers, retailers and suppliers. Policy Press has had a fabulous year publishing some really ground-breaking and influential work. As we all step back and take a few days’ break I hope that there will be time for reflection, as well as time to recharge batteries, ready to fling ourselves back into the fray in the New Year and keep on keeping on to get us to a better, fairer and more just society.

And now, stepping down from the soap box for 2014, I’d just like to wish you all a truly wonderful Christmas and New Year from everyone at Policy Press.


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