The West Virginia University Press ventures into a new land to develop their international market. As representatives of the WVU Press, director Patrick Conner and editor Daniel Williams will go overseas to develop the market in England. The trip abroad is set to leave today, with a week filled with meetings and an itinerary of plans to accomplish.
With the huge success of the WVU Press’s CD recordings of West Virginia fiddle music, Edden Hammons Vol. I and II, Williams hopes to tap the English market for American folk music. Williams will also be traveling with a pre-release copy of WVU Press’s next CD of historical West Virginia music. The hot fiddling of John Johnson was recorded on aluminum disks in Strange Creek, in 1947. This May, the press will release its eagerly-awaited CD version. Folk clubs, radio shows, and a WVU Press reception in England will offer fans a chance to hear this music months before its official unveiling.
Williams says,”There is a real enthusiasm for folk music in Great Britain.”In England, publicity ranging from magazines to concerts and festivals are jumping to the tune of folk music. Edden Hammons Vol. I had a lengthy and favorable review in the English music journal, Musical Traditions. Williams hopes to work both ends of the spectrum of sales.”We are going to check out the British distributors for this music, and choose one or two to handle our recordings,”he says. Williams will also help create demand by letting the consumers know the CD’s are out there, through advertising and promotion. A musician himself in the Appalachian tradition, Williams will perform at several folk clubs, and tell the crowds about the WVU Press series of recordings.
In the meantime, Pat Conner will be working on acquiring book manuscripts and sales arrangements for some of the WVU Press’s books. Conner predicts that the Press will create a new market for its books over there. In order to gain wider U.K. distribution, Conner will meet with representatives of Oxbow Books in Oxford. Conner feels that Oxbow will be interested in distributing titles such as John Cuthbert’s Early Art and Artists in West Virginia, Robert Maxon’s history of East Africa, Emory Kemp’s book on early bridge building around the world, and other titles in Oxbow’s areas of specialization. Conner feels a second objective of the voyage is to try to build”a community of small medieval studies publishers which can assert itself in a market becoming dominated by the grand university presses at Oxford, Cambridge, the Universities of Pennsylvania and California, etc.”
The WVU Press has two such studies in production. Conner will meet with people at the British Library and Kings College, London, which publish some books in the medieval area, in hopes of creating a”co-op”of small medieval studies publishers.
“Of course, one week won’t pin all of this down, but if we’ve got an order or two, have created interest in London about the WVU Press, and leave England better educated in this new business we’re developing, well we’ll surely have succeeded.”