Westley Books, a by-word in the publishing industry for ill-judged, poorly timed and just plain wrong publishing ventures, has reported a significant annual trading loss for the fourth year on the trot.
‘It’s been another tough year for us,’ admitted CEO Bob Vines. ‘Twelve months ago, we had some amazing titles lined up : ‘Mitt Romney’s Journey to the White House’, ‘The Jimmy Savile Childcare and Development Guide’, ‘The Little Blair Book of Humility’. Oh, the potential, I thought.’
‘We even had Lance Armstrong on board, with the latest volume of his autobiography, ‘Beating USADA : Who’s the Dope Now ?’ – all terrific books, all complete disasters. The inexplicable failure of the various spin-offs from the Paris Olympics has also been really perplexing.’
After a puzzled pause, Bob continued. ‘We then had high hopes for the December launch of the NRA’s ‘Assault Rifle Etiquette’, our big player for the US Christmas market, but even that misfired on us. It’s been a real mystery to me.’
Bob then conceded that there had been a glimmer of hope from the collaborative re-work of ‘How to make Friends and influence People’, undertaken with Bashar al-Assad. ‘There were reports that the books were literally flying off the shelves,’ reminisced Bob fondly, ‘but unfortunately this was later attributed to a car-bomb outside the distribution centre.’
But no matter how beleaguered the company is, Bob knows that the staff will always be 100% behind him. ‘They continue to support me through thin and thinner – it is truly inspiring,’ admits Bob, although staff have privately revealed that this is less out of loyalty and more through morbid curiosity on their part.
Meanwhile, Bob is typically upbeat about the prospects in the pipeline. ‘We’ve just released the Chris Huhne volume in the Great Parlimentarians series: expect to see that one speeding up the best seller list. And we have a new cookbook for the UK market, real cutting edge stuff. ‘Horses for Courses’ – it’ll run and run.’