Questions for: Hermione Ireland

News - Interviews Wednesday, 25th August 2021

The managing director of Academie du Vin Library in London contributes to our Q&A series


Describe your current job
I run a young wine book publisher and look after all aspects of the company, which is great, and challenging! But I specialise in the sales and marketing functions primarily.

What was your first job in the book industry?
Rights assistant/pa to the foreign rights director at Marshall Editions

Who has been the most influential person in your career?  
Catherine Bell - former line manager at DK and an all-round impressive professional as well as being a wonderfully supportive boss.

How has the industry changed since your first job?
Enormously! When I started in marketing at DK in 1997 there was no such thing as digital marketing, and the Net Book Agreement was still in existence when I started at Marshall Editions in 1993. I think the selling of rights hasn't fundamentally changed but the retail landscape has evolved, obviously. I remember us all speculating on whether Amazon might become something worthwhile.

What’s the biggest challenge in your job?
Scale/growth. There is great potential for niche publishers, but it takes time and effort to grow an audience.

What’s the best piece of book-related advice you’ve ever been given?
Have a very clear idea of who your consumer is and keep them in mind with all of your sales and marketing plans.

What are the most interesting things you’re seeing at the moment in the industry?
Digital events - what happened as a necessity for bookshops and publishers during lockdown has become a brilliant way to reach a much wider audience with very little barrier to entry and I think they will be here to stay.

What do you think might be the next big thing?
Difficult one - I've seen so many digital 'next big things' and so many of them haven't made a lasting impression. I'd like to believe in the rise and rise of local bookshops, and think that bookshop.org feels like it could make a difference here.

How are you coping with working from a home environment?
Mixed feelings about this. We're a remote company but I'm a real extrovert. It's great that we can now have meetings with people in real life which is definitely a good thing from my perspective.

How do you think the industry will come out of this current Covid-19 crisis?
I think there is more support for local businesses than there's ever been, although I think Covid is only partially responsible for this. However, Amazon was the biggest winner of Covid and I worry that its dominance will just keep growing.

What do you most like doing when you’re not working?
Socialising, cooking (and eating), and learning about wine which I'm doing for my new role but is a great thing to do anyway.

What is the best book you’ve read in the last year?
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.

What are you reading now?
The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry - great gothic literary fantasy from Hachette New Zealand which I've had on my shelf since I was working there a couple of years ago. Great so far.

How do you like to read: on screen, on paper, or do you listen to audio books?
Mostly on paper but not averse to the other two formats. Audio is a bit slow for me and I'm quite impatient!