NWR Issue 26

Publishing in Wales

The New Welsh Review will shortly be launching, with the support of the Arts Council for Wales, a new annual publication, Welsh Writing in English; a Yearbook of Critical Essays. (see page opposite for details). Planet: the Welsh Internationalist has recently also announced plans for diversifying into books, thanks to a Foundation for Sports and the Arts grant. (NWR is grateful for a recent grant from the same source towards the purchase of new capital equipment). Planet is following an expansion route which was pioneered by Poetry Wales Press - now more usually known as Seren Books - during the 1980s.

University of Wales Press too has been expanding its output of non-academic books. Predominantly Welsh language book publishers, like Gwasg Gomer, Y Lolfa and Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, have been stepping up their output of English language titles.

Several newcomers over the past decade, such as Honno: Welsh Women's Press and Red Sharks Press and the short story magazine Cambrensis are now well-established.

At the same time, hardly a month seems to pass without the launch of a small press poetry collection or a new magazine, be it an arts events listings magazine or a magazine dedicated to environmental problems.

Why this quickening and diversification of activity? The most important reason is computer technology revolution. This has altered publishing and printing methods radically and sharply lowered the capital entry cost.

It is also reflects the Arts Council of Wales's willingness to spread its support more widely and encourage the publishing industry develop in range and diversity.

But it does not mean publishing has become more profitable. The brutal price battle now going on between the London daily newspaper monopolies demonstrates the opposite. By the same token, competition for the purchases of Wales's book-buying public is stiffer Also, publishers must 'sweat their assets' more vigorously to stay in business - hence, more titles.

However, old and new publishers alike ultimately run up the dominant constraint in Welsh publishing - the strictly limited size of the market. This is the reason why, as with opera and theatre, Welsh literary publishing requires the patronage and encouragement of bodies like the Arts Council of Wales, the Welsh Books Council and the Foundation for Sport and the Arts, if it is to survive and enrich Welsh life in the years ahead.


previous editorial: History and myth in the making
next editorial: Poetry as publicity


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