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Engage Books interviewed by the AV Times

I was recently interviewed by Alyson McAndrews from the Alberni Valley Times. Below is the article in full.

From wrestling ring to the publisher's desk

Alexis Roumanis has come a long way from the wrestling mats at Mount Klitsa Middle School and Alberni District Secondary School where he spent most of his youth. The four-time provincial wrestling champion now spends most of his days surrounded by books.

Or at least everything to do with books. Since moving from Port Alberni to the lower mainland in 2000 to wrestle and attend Simon Fraser University he has earned two degrees and started his own book publishing company -- Engage Books.

File 119"When I got to Simon Fraser I didn't know what I wanted to do and originally tried business," says Roumanis. "I didn't like that, but I liked English because of Mrs. Smith at ADSS, whose enthusiasm and encouragement in the classroom inspired me to pursue literature and writing, so I decided to do a degree in English."

His undergraduate degree inspired him to pursue a career in book publishing.

The tenacity he learned in wrestling helped him land his first job in the industry at Ronsdale Press in Vancouver.

"I sent out resumes to as many book publishers as I could find in the area, and landed a job at Ronsdale, which produces a great product, basically from home, which really appealed to me," he says.

From there he entered the Masters of Publishing program at SFU, one of two of its kind in North America, and before he officially graduated he had started Engage Books, which publishes classics and new science fiction. That was in May 2008.

About two years later he has published roughly a dozen classics, a cookbook, an Alice in Wonderland colouring book and will publish his first new science fiction book later this year, titled Planet Janitor: Custodian of the Stars by Chris Stevenson.

He employs a business model, print-on-demand, which allows him to reduce overhead and publish more books. Instead of warehousing thousands of copies of a title, his printer will print and mail a book within 24 hours of it being ordered.

"Using this system has greatly increased my ability to publish more titles because I don't have a ton of overhead wrapped up in storing thousands of copies of something I'm not sure will sell."

It's a competitive business and margins are tight, so Roumanis uses freelancers for cover art and book illustrations, instead of hiring employees.

"I come up with a concept for a book and choose the font, the lay out of the text and write the book information, but I use freelancers from places like Emily Carr to actually create illustrations and artwork.

When I'm working with new titles, like Planet Janitor, I have a freelance editor who works with the writer," Roumanis explains. "When I started this company, I had no idea if it would work. Given that I'm really happy to be continuing to grow the business two years later and be doing something I love."

Roumanis credits his background in wrestling and the support he received in the Alberni Valley with much of his success. "The people who influenced me in Port Alberni like Tom McEvay and John McDonald taught me valuable lessons about challenging myself and chasing my goals.

Tom got me into wrestling, was my neighbor and the officient at my wedding in 2007. John coached me to four provincial championships, was the Canada Summer Games coach where I won gold and we traveled to Russia and Georgia on a wrestling trip in 2000."

The lessons he learned from these men about sportsmanship, taking pride in his work and being part of a team have served Roumanis in good stead in business.

"My goal is to produce a good product and be a good business partner. I think having an upstanding reputation and treating people fairly, like providing good royalty rates to authors, is the best way to conduct yourself in business."

For more information, including latest titles like Alice in Wonderland, visit www.engagebooks.ca.

 
This article in the AV Times was published on Friday, March 12, 2010.
 

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For all things Alice

To coincide with the success of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, Engage Books is pleased to announce the release of two new titles.

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass is a facsimile of the original 1865 and 1871 editions, and the hardcover edition is limited to 1000 copies.

Both books include all 92 original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel. Not only is the coloring book great for crayons and markers, it is also abridged for first time readers.

If you want Alice's Adventures in Wonderland without the Looking-Glass, we have that too!

Click on the book cover of your choice for more details.

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Engage Books interviewed by THE SOURCE newspaper

I was recently interviewed by Olga Livshin from The Source newspaper. Below is the article in full.

Let's Publish Science Fiction

File 99The Canadian Writer’s Market (2007) states that there are only 152 book publishers in Canada today. Alexis Roumanis is one of them.
 
Roumanis took his first step towards book publishing in 2005, after he graduated from Simon Fraser University (SFU), majoring in English, and started his first job at Ronsdale Press, a small Vancouver literary publisher.
 
“Ronsdale produces great books,” Roumanis said. “Working for them got me interested in book publishing.” Spurred by his emerging fascination with the industry, Roumanis entered the Master of Publishing program at SFU, but even before enrolling, he knew his ultimate goal: he wanted to found his own company. And if starting a new publishing house required courage and imagination, Roumanis had both in spades.
 
In May 2008, still a graduate student, he started Engage Books. His black eyes sparkled with pride and affection when he talked about his young company, as if it was a bestselling phenomenon instead of a newborn press.
 
“We have four imprints,” Roumanis said, explaining his company’s structure. “AD Classic represents the great books from the past 2,000 years. BC Classic showcases the legends from the times of Homer and Plato. SF Classic produces classic science fiction, while Engage SF explores the worlds created by modern science fiction writers.”
 
Although SF stands for science fiction, Roumanis had to start his budding company with general classics to finance books by new SF authors. “A new writer is always a risk, but classics are eternal. I don’t even need to market them. They sell themselves.” However, as a shrewd businessman, Roumanis keeps a finger on the pulse of popular culture. He selects his classic titles with care. Several of his books coincided with the recently released movies (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) or movies about to be released (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). “When a movie is out, I get free publicity,” he announced with a cheerful grin.
 
Last year, a couple of his classic books were picked up as curriculum by some American universities, making his sales jump, which finally enabled him to start working on the new titles – an SF novel and an anthology of short stories.
 
Roumanis selected SF as his primary publishing focus for two reasons. First, it is his favourite genre as a reader. “I am currently reading Nineteen Eighty-four for the first time,” he confided. “My favourite SF author is Orson Scott Card.” Second, there is a gap of genre fiction in the Canadian publishing scene. “Before I started Engage Books, there was only one other specialized SF publisher in Canada – EDGE Publishing in Calgary. Vancouver didn’t have an SF publisher before me. It was ridiculous. We have excellent SF writers in BC, and many SF movies are shot here.”
 
File 67 To succeed in the very competitive publishing field, Roumanis applies “print on demand”, an innovative publishing strategy. “With this approach, we don’t have any warehousing overhead,” he said. “When online orders come in, we print and ship the book within 24 hours.” Another important component of his success is staying on top of new technologies, a trademark of the new generation of young entrepreneurs.
 
Like many small publishers, Roumanis works from home. His business days are tightly packed, divided between marketing existing titles, creating new book layouts, writing back page blurbs, editing and proofreading, attending professional conferences, and arranging freelance editors and artists for his projects. Only in his spare hours, usually in the evenings, does he find time to read new submissions and make the most important decisions: what to publish.
 
“I like having my own company,” he said. “I work creatively on something I’m passionate about and I can read fabulous new manuscripts.” Like any publishing expert, he enjoys reading. On the other hand, he dislikes paperwork, especially filing his tax returns.
 
“I get the most excited when one of my new books comes in the mail, fresh off the press,” he confessed.
 
To learn more, check out the website www.engagebooks.ca.
 
This edition of The Source (VOL 11 NO 1) can be found in your local library from Jan 12 - Feb 9, 2010.
 

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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is now available in Paperback & Hardcover

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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is now available, which includes the original 12 short stories. If you've seen the new movie, this book will introduce many of the characters including Inspector Lestrade, and Holmes' first encounter with Irene Adler.

Check it out here! 

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL is now available in Paperback and Hardcover

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Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is now available as an AD Classic Paperback & Library Edition Hardcover. All of our hardcovers are printed in case laminate, with the cover image printed directly on the hardcover. This format is preferred by libraries and collectors, as dust jackets tend to wear and tear with age. This beautiful format will be nice addition to any book lovers collection.

 

 

 

ABOUT THE STORY:

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On the night of Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three Christmas spirits. The Ghost of Christmas Past confronts Scrooge with his youth, the Ghost of Christmas Present reveals the Cratchits' struggle amid poverty, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come harrows Scrooge with dire visions of the future if he does not learn to treat his fellow man with kindness, generosity and compassion.

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WHY THIS EDITION IS UNIQUE

A Christmas Carol remains one of the most beloved Christmas stories of all time, and this edition is sure to please with its 48 illustrations from over a dozen different artists. Charles Dickens redefined the spirit and importance of Christmas and initiated a rebirth of seasonal merriment. The book played a significant role in reinventing Christmas with an emphasis on family, goodwill, and compassion.

Get your copy today! 

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