All about catching thermals

Small publishers are sweeping the Booker and Nobel prizes

On this years’s Booker by Philip Lynch (Prophet Song)

What is the secret to big success for small presses? Nothing new, the editors say, but rather something as old as the book trade: picking worthy titles, editing them carefully and promoting them well. It often comes down to money—in particular, not thinking too much about it.

Publishing, by its nature, is a gamble. The recent renaissance of independent presses may fade with the changing tastes of prize committees or the fickle fancies of readers. “Sometimes you catch a thermal,” Ms Mabey says, and a book soars. “Sometimes you don’t.” But small publishers can adapt to changing winds. And with another Booker in the bag, Oneworld, like so many of its peers, is flying high.

Which is once the way academia worked. All about being the right size for the job in hand.