Canongate stands out from the publishing crowd. Rescued from administration by its former intern, Jamie Byng, it has won a Booker prize and published a US president, but remains true to its Scottish roots, with three-quarters of its staff based in Edinburgh.
Byng, the well-to-do stepson of businessman Sir Christopher Bland, was initially dismissed as a trustafarian by cynics. But his passion for publishing has kept Canongate at the forefront of the industry as a small independent with a distinctive roster embracing everything from comedians (The Mighty Boosh) and rock stars (Nick Cave) to pocket editions of the King James Bible. Despite the threat of Amazon, Byng embraces the digital age. “It is a very level playing field,” he says. “When it comes to the literary, quirky stuff, you can compete with the biggest houses.”
Jamie Byng talks about
- How he went from club promoter to publisher
- The runaway success of Life of Pi
- How negotiations with Barack Obama dragged on so long they overlapped with his presidential bid
- Why he is keeping the company in Edinburgh
- How he survived a disastrous deal with Julian Assange
- Why Amazon’s business model proves the need for good publishers
Read the full story here.