Questions for: Jane Harris

News - Interviews Tuesday, 20th August 2019

Bonnier Books UK's md of children's trade publishing contributes to our Q&A series

Describe your current job in one sentence
Managing a team of diverse and hugely talented people to publish and sell the best children's books into multiple markets.

What was your first job in the book industry?
PA to the sales manager at Bell & Hyman (now that is really going to give away how long I have been in publishing!).

Who has been the most influential person in your career?
This is so difficult to answer, as I have been very lucky to work with so many brilliant people, all of whom have taught and inspired me along the way.

How has the industry changed since your first job?
I am not sure we have room to list all the changes here, but a few are: the arrival of Amazon; internet and social media; the rise of ebooks and self-publishing; the sad demise of many bookshop chains such as Dillons, Books Etc, Borders; the influence of vloggers and bloggers; small independent publishers now part of the larger houses. However, the resilience of booksellers and the passion for the hand-sell continues.

What's the biggest challenge in your job?
Reaching readers, getting our books to the widest audience possible. Discoverability for readers when so many books are published remains a huge challenge, and we believe in our mantra that every book matters.

What's the best piece of book-related advice you've ever been given?
Always put authors and illustrators at the heart of our business.

What are the most interesting things you're seeing at the moment in the industry?
The challenge to bring sustainability into publishing, the growing inclusivity and diversity within children's publishing, the audio revival.

What do you think might be the next big thing?

What do you most like doing when you're not working?
Horse riding and going to the races.

What is the best book you've read in the last year?
The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells - terrifying.

What are you reading now?
Lots of submissions pre-Frankfurt.

How do you like to read: on screen, on paper, or do you listen to audiobooks?
All of those.