Today should have been the last day of my placement with Hurtwood Books, but instead it’s the day before my first Zoom conference call with them and a client. Hurtwood is a London-based book production company specializing in creating beautiful books for some of the world’s most demanding clients. They have orchestrated book production for some of the most prestigious Art and Design institutions and have produced work for renowned publishers such as Thames & Hudson and Ivory Press. If their client list hasn’t got you swooning, then you can bet that their portfolio will hit the mark.
I have a background in Graphic Design — a massive advantage for the In Practise and Production modules, no doubt — but I hadn’t a clue about the industry. I have a book-heavy portfolio, written essays on the subject… But, what’s the difference between trade publishing and STM publishing? 🥴
I chose the course to develop an understanding of what publishing is and to have some sort of formal training on book production. Sure, I can make a pretty book, but how do you sell them? How do you market them? How do you actually get the commission in the first place? Pass me glue, buckram and board and I’ll make you one, but what do you do when someone asks for 10,000?
For once, it’s not a company I found on Instagram. I researched luxury book production London as I have a connection on LinkedIn — albeit from a different company — who regularly posts about book projects I can only dream of being involved in. They market themselves as ‘luxury print for global brands’ so I stole their tagline, googled it and helloooo Hurtwood. When the director phoned me after the we’d be delighted to have you e-mail, he says… “I’m not too sure why we said yes. There was just something in the way you worded your email, I thought — this is the kind of person I want to have working for us.” That’ll do me.
The director explained what Hurtwood really does, which isn’t necessarily publishing. “Our clients are artists, photographers, galleries, companies and individuals. We produce books for people who want to make a book but don’t know how…” Perfect. “And what is it you see yourself doing after your course?”; “…exactly what you are.”
From what I gather, the project management element of working for a company like Hurtwood would bring me much joy. The hands-on approach ensures that they have access to every stage of a project from concept to completion, whilst working with some of the best makers-and-doers in their field. I’m going to be really cliché, but there is no better feeling than picking up a book from the binders. The collaborative nature of book production is equally as inspiring. Working with a new supplier can show you to new ways of doing > creating > producing – exciting! You don’t have to be a jack of all trades when there are masters of one.
It’s a real shame that I couldn’t complete it this month as it would have materialized what I think I want (never know ‘til you try). With the projects I have worked on this year, the knowledge that other modules have provided into the industry and experience generated before and during the course, I think I have a strong foundation for progressing my practise into book production regardless. Maybe it’ll be my work future publishing students are fawning over!