‘1980s London: Making the Best of it by Alec Forshaw

Published in April 2021, 1980s London: Making the Best of It is my second book with Brown Dog Books and The Self-Publishing Partnership. It follows a very successful first project, An Address in Bloomsbury, first published in 2017 with a revised edition in 2018.

I have been writing books, off and on as a side-show to a career as a town planner, conservationist and musician, for over forty years, but have only recently been drawn to the self-publishing method. My earlier books were all with established publishers, such as Heinemann, Penguin, Batsford, Robert Hale and the History Press. However, trying to find a conventional publisher for a tome about the long and extraordinary history of my 17th century house in Bloomsbury proved difficult, not least how to end up with a quality product and a cover price that anybody I knew might afford to buy.

Fortunately I hit upon the Self-Publishing Partnership following preliminary enquiries, and was immediately impressed by the flexibility of what they could offer, and subsequently even more delighted by the service I received and the excellent end result. 

I had thought that a book about my house would have a limited appeal, and so therefore arranged a smaller print-run with SPP than would have been economical with a conventional publisher. As it happened, it sold out quickly, and the second edition, with minor additions, is doing very well.

Having seen the quality of production with the An Address in Bloomsbury, I reckoned again that SPP would fit the bill for my 1980s London book. I had intended this as a sequel to two earlier books, Growing Up in Cambridge and 1970s London: Discovering the Capital, published in 2009 and 2011 by the History Press, but wanted something of a higher quality at an affordable price, particularly including the use of colour images rather than purely black and white, and also a somewhat longer text. 1980s London: Making the Best of It follows the same format in terms of the shape and dimensions of its prequels, so that there is a clear family likeness, but the quality of paper, photographic reproduction, and sensitivity of the design layout is greatly superior. Once again SPP have done a terrific job.

Most of the Bloomsbury books have been sold locally, but given the likely wider appeal of 1980s London I also decided to use the distribution service offered by SPP whereby an agreed proportion of the stock go to Grantham Book Services. They supply bookshops and other distributors across the land. So far, just two months into the launch, this seems to be a good formula.

I have recommended SPP to various friends and acquaintances looking to write books, either for the first time or as experienced authors, but who have been daunted by the onerous conditions and exorbitant costs of conventional publishers. The potential drawback of having to pay modestly upfront (as opposed to the myth of getting a glamorous advance from a publisher) is that you know what you are getting and the rewards are potentially greater from sales, rather than the measly royalties that are the norm in the publishing world.

As for the contents of 1980s London: Making the Best of It, it is an idiosyncratic and personal portrayal of an extraordinary decade when enormous changes shaped the capital city in ways that we still live with today. Touching on diverse aspects of London life, it sheds light on many of the challenges that we now face in our post-Covid world – 240 pages, 170 photographs, and a must for anyone who loves London!

RRP £ 15.00  Available to order from all bookshops and on line.

Purchase ‘1980s London: Making the Best of it’ here.

Purchase ‘An Address in Bloomsbury’ here.

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