A Bright Future for Books from Wales

30 Nov 2006

The book trade in Wales has seen some major changes and developments during the last year, in both languages, according to Gwerfyl Pierce Jones, Director of the Welsh Books Council, as she addressed members at the Annual Meeting in Cardiff.

Changes were introduced within the Books Council’s own structures as it faced the challenges of developing the book trade in Wales, with a new Sales and Marketing Department being established. Following the appointment of Helgard Krause, a native of Germany, but now a fluent Welsh speaker, as Head of the new department, she and her team are working in partnership with publishers and booksellers to promote and increase sales of books from Wales.

‘These exciting developments have introduced new working practices at the Books Council,’ said Gwerfyl Pierce Jones, ‘as it was essential for the Council itself to lead the way. Naturally, these developments will lead to changes within all sectors of the book trade, which can only be successfully implemented through cooperation.’

The last year has seen a number of significant developments within the field of Welsh writing in English. The acclaimed series, Library of Wales, with backing from the Welsh Assembly Government and the personal support of Alun Pugh, the Minister for Culture, Welsh
Language and Sport, has not only been a success in terms of sales but has also achieved its aim of presenting our literary heritage to an audience of new readers. Authors such as Rachel Trezise, winner of the EDS Dylan Thomas Prize 2006 for Fresh Apples, her collection of short stories, testify to the fact that new writing from Wales is now recognised on the international stage.

Welsh-language novels are also reaping the benefits of these developments. Only ten years ago the demise of the novel was a critical issue, together with dwindling sales. By now the situation has been transformed, with authors and publishers taking full advantage of the commissioning grants administered by the Books Council to produce a wide range of popular titles.

According to Gwerfyl Pierce Jones, it is heartening to see a growing number of young authors venturing into the field, alongside established authors, and the result is a much-welcomed frank and lively discussion about books. It is not surprising, therefore, that novels are now amongst the best sellers of Welsh-language books.

‘These developments will naturally bring new challenges,’ added Gwerfyl Pierce Jones, ‘and we are confident that the Books Council and the book trade in Wales are willing to face these changes with renewed vigour, so that we can all work together in the interest of the reading public.’

One other major change at the Books Council during the year has been the retirement of Elgan Davies, Head of the Design Department, and Dewi Morris Jones, Head of the Editorial Department. Having worked for the Books Council for a combined period of 64 years, both have seen significant changes within the book trade in Wales.

‘They have both given invaluable service to the Books Council over the years,’ said Gwerfyl Pierce Jones, ‘and both would testify that a programme of change and development is not a new phenomenon in the context of the book trade in Wales.’

Gwales

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