About Mensch Publishing
Mensch is a publishing company. It is funded, owned and managed by Richard Charkin.
Mensch has no mission statement nor other worthy but meaningless platitudes. Its aim is simply to help authors reach readers with minimal intervention and maximum impact and to reward them proportionately.
Its sales, rights and distribution are handled by Bloomsbury Publishing around the world. Editing, design, and publicity are managed by a group of experienced professionals. The effort is all about supporting authors to reach their readers.
Setting up a publishing business in the 21st century (nor any other century for that matter) is not easy, as described in Publishing Perspectives where Richard writes a monthly column including an article celebrating the first anniversary of Mensch.
There would be no mission statement. There would be no editorial strategy. The focus would not be on profit but on publishing authors fairly and successfully and thus building an intellectual property asset over time. Occam’s Razor would be applied wherever possible. In addition Sir Stanley Unwin’s first duty of a publisher to stay in business would be followed.
Accounting would be cash based – no provisions, no depreciation of assets, simply cash in versus cash out and measured daily by the health or otherwise of a dedicated bank account. Invoices would be paid on receipt into the supplier’s bank account same day, be they printers, distributors, freelance editors, designers, publicists, HMRC or authors. Apart from being fair (menschlich) it also saved me a lot of administrative hassle remembering to pay, it cost me little in today’s low-interest world, and it bought me good will (I hope). If only my creditors would pay me on those same terms (a forlorn hope).
Author contracts would be fair but on my terms not those widely used in the traditional general book publishing world – no advance against royalties, royalty percentages based on net income not on cover price but generous, world all language rights, and all other rights (audio, digital, serialisation etc). Quite clearly this wouldn’t attract many authors but it was the only way I could stick to my principles and hope to stay in business.
Staffing would be minimal – an unpaid me. Everything else would be outsourced. In particular, Bloomsbury were willing to handle sales, distribution, rights, and production on my behalf – thank you Bloomsbury.
About Richard Charkin
Richard Charkin is founder and sole employee of Mensch Publishing. He is also currently Vice-Chair of Bloomsbury China. He was a non-executive director of the Institute of Physics Publishing, and still at Liverpool University Press, Bonnier Books UK, and Cricket Properties Ltd who are licensees for Wisden. He is a member of the international advisory board of the Frankfurt Book Fair, President of The Book Society, and Advisor to nkoda.com.
Charkin has held senior positions at Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (Executive Director), Macmillan (CEO), part of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck (Director); Current Science Group (CEO); Reed Elsevier (CEO Reed International Books); Oxford University Press (Managing Director Academic and General Divisions); and Pergamon Press (Senior Publishing Manager).
He has served the book industry through the presidency of the UK Publishers Association and the International Publishers Association.
He writes a monthly column for Publishing Perspectives. Do check it out.
Audio interviews here and here, about his career in publishing.
An article in The Author magazine about changes over 47 years in the book trade.
A piece in Thrive Global on setting up a business when approaching 70 years old.
A piece in All About Book Publishing about the Indian book trade.
And here is a long interview with him for Publishing without Borders