Clays to reprint 80,000 copies of Man Booker Prize winner

Sarah Cosgrove
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

An immediate paperback reprint of 80,000 copies of Man Booker Prize winner A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James is underway at printer Clays.

Marlon James
Marlon James

The Bungay, Suffolk-based printer, part of the St Ives Group, swung into action to reprint the 704pp book as soon as Jamaican James was announced the winner last night (Tuesday, 13 October) at the Guildhall in London.

Clays will also print a special gift edition of the hardback in time for Christmas.  

It is the first time a Jamaican has won the prize and also the first time independent London publisher Oneworld has published a Man Booker winner.

Clays strategic director Kate McFarlan said: “We’re hugely thrilled and delighted for him and extremely happy to print it for him.”

McFarlan said discussions to formulate a printing plan started between Oneworld and Clays as soon as the book was shortlisted.

“The plan was finessed and finessed and then we wait to see whether to put that plan into execution. There will be books going out direct from Clays to retailers tomorrow morning," she said.

"It’s great for Oneworld because they’ve never had a Man Booker prize winner before.”

Clays has been printing the London publisher’s books for the past year.

Oneworld production manager Paul Nash said: "Clays are reprinting the books at unbelievably high speed and we are very grateful to them. We've had to plan like we were going to win without jinxing it. You say things like 'if we win we'll...' and you hope for the best.

"Clays have been incredible. They are very quick and flexible and a lovely bunch of people. Various people here have worked on Booker winners but this the fist time Oneworld has done this. Clays have been instrumental in coming to us with a plan, which we discussed in detail."

As well as the special Christmas hardback edition, which Nash said would be "a pared down thing of beauty with some finishes", Oneworld has also ordered 10,000 copy reprints of each of James' first two books, The Book of Night Women (2009) and John Crow’s Devil (2005) which it also publishes. "That would be a healthy first print run, so it's a very healthy reprint," Nash said.

Oneworld's publisher Juliet Mabey, said of the win: "Marlon James is one of the most powerful writers today. His second novel, The Book of Night Women, was the first novel we published here back in 2009, and I immediately fell in love with it, but his writing is going from strength to strength. 

A Brief History of Seven Killings is his most ambitious novel to date - powerful, complex and utterly mesmerising - and we couldn’t be more proud to publish it.”

It is a busy period for Clays, the UK’s biggest book printer. Last week saw the most new books published in one day to date, in what has become known as Super Thursday.

McFarlan said careful plans were also put in place for that event.

“The number of hardbacks increases four-fold compared to quieter months. An average week of hardbacks can be as low as 150,000 in the spring but over a million in the build-up to Super Thursday," she said.

“We increase the number of staff in the summer to cope with this, carrying additional skills through the quiet months and supplementing that with local temporary labour during busier periods like now. So, we have equipment for the peaks, and staff increases to produce the extra. 

“There has always been an imbalance across the year, particularly for hardbacks. The paperback peak tends to be earlier in the year, for summer reading.”

Pre-Christmas releases and the Man Booker Prize both help to increase book sales in the run-up to Christmas. 


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