It’s no exaggeration to say that in its ten years of existence, Handspring Publishing has had a profound impact on the bodywork and movement therapy fields. Til and Whitney talk with two of Handspring's founders about some very big recent news, and about their unique vision of a place where both long-established authors (such as Robert Schleip, Leon Chaitow, and more), as well as promising newer voices, could all share their knowledge and advance our field.

 

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(The Thinking Practitioner Podcast is intended for professional practitioners of manual and movement therapies: bodywork, massage therapy, structural integration, chiropractic, myofascial and myotherapy, orthopedic, sports massage, physical therapy, osteopathy, yoga, strength and conditioning, and similar professions. It is not medical or treatment advice.)

 

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Til Luchau Advanced-Trainings        whitney lowe
Til Luchau                          Whitney Lowe

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Your Hosts:

Til Luchau Advanced-Trainings
Til Luchau

whitney lowe
Whitney Lowe

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Full Transcript (click me!)

The Thinking Practitioner Podcast:
Episode 64: The Handspring Story (with Andrew Stevenson and Mary Law) 

Til Luchau:

When I was looking for a publisher for a book I wanted to write, I was fortunate to have ended up with two offers. One from a large international media conglomerate, and the other from Handspring. Which at the time was a small publisher in Scotland run by just four people with a love of great books and our field. To this day I'm glad I chose to go with Handspring, as not only did they help me make the books I wanted to share, the Advanced Myofascial Techniques series, but their catalog has emerged as one of the leading collections of professional-level books written especially for bodyworkers, movement teachers, and all professionals who use movement or touch to help patients achieve wellness. And as a testament to everything that the team achieved in just 10 years, Handspring was recently acquired, big news here, recently acquired by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, where it joins the holistic and integrative health publishing of JKP's Singing Dragon Imprint. That's big news, Whitney. What do you think of that?

Whitney Lowe:

I think that's wonderful news today, and also very relevant for our discussions. We have some special guests related to this and who are the mystery guests we have with us today?

Til Luchau:

Our mystery guest, our special guests today are Andrew Stevenson and Mary Law, two of the founding members of Handspring publishing. And they're here to join us in a conversation about their story, which is really interesting, about publishing and about the way that our field is developing and growing. Pleased to be here with you today.

Mary Law:

Shall I kick off on that?

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Mary Law:

This is Mary. I fell into publishing really as actually I think many people do, purely by chance. I wasn't aiming to be a publisher. I had in fact trained as a nurse, and I then moved to Scotland to do my midwifery training. After which I didn't quite know what to do so I applied to be something, which in Britain is called a health visitor, which is somewhere between a district nurse and a health advisor but I had to wait six months before that course began.

Mary Law:

And so I thought it would be nice to have in my innocence a Monday to Friday, nine to five job for a while, while I was waiting, I found that I was not qualified really to do anything except serve in a shop or be a receptionist. Because I hadn't typed, learned to type, I managed to get a job as a part-time copy editor with a medical publisher based in Edinburgh. And I didn't tell them when I applied for the job that I was only planning to stay for six months. After I'd been there about two weeks, the one and only nursing author came into the office and the Managing Director mentioned to her that, oh, we now have a nurse on our staff and told her my name.

Mary Law:

She then divulged that she had actually been on the selection committee of people applying to do the health visiting course. And she was very surprised to hear I was there full time because I was going to do the course in six months time. The Managing Director brought her up to meet me and said... then said, what's all this I hear about you going to do health visiting. So really without thinking, I said, oh, I've decided not to do it. And I went home and wrote my resignation letter and I've been a publisher ever since. So you totally unplanned.

Andrew Stevenson:

Well, I... it's Andrew here. I also fell into publishing, I guess, slightly as a reaction against my father's wish that I should become an accountant when I was thinking... leaving university, thinking about what I was going to do. My father was keen I should go into that profession. It was a reaction against it, I said, no, no, publishing sounds much more interesting and gentlemanly, long lunches, no financial aspects of whatsoever. I soon learned the hard way that was not true. Although the long lunches certainly happened in those early days. But anyway, I got a job after many attempts and the first job I was very lucky, but it happened to be in medical publishing. And within weeks of starting the job, I found myself in a little car driving across Europe, visiting medical schools and getting professors to recommend books, textbooks.

Andrew Stevenson:

This was an American, for an American medical publishing company called Saunders. You would rock up in some Dutch city in the morning and you'd go up to the third floor of the medical school and you'd knock on the professor's door and his secretary would be there and she would welcome you in, and she'd say: "ich habe hier einen Mann von Sanders," I have here a man from Saunders, to the professor and the professor would then usher you into his inner sanctum and start talking about textbooks. And they loved, most of them, loved talking about books. Very quickly you learned about the textbooks and they talked about not only the books that you were selling, but trying to get them to recommend to their students, but also about the competing books. You learn quickly going from professor to professor this landscape of textbooks and how they fitted together. And I found that fascinating.

Andrew Stevenson:

And then after doing that for a bit, I thought, well, Hey, it's already well to be selling these, but how do you make them? How do you come up with them in the first place? How do you get people to write them? I was lucky enough to get a job. A job came vacant at the same company as Mary's in Edinburgh. I was then based in London, I moved to Edinburgh for an editorial job, which involved going out and finding authors. And that's how it started.

Mary Law:

I think for both of us, there was a lot of luck involved. I found myself sharing an office with a woman who had been pushing for a career as a commissioning editor as a quite elderly spinster, I would say, and to everyone's surprise, especially mine and I think to hers, she suddenly announced that she was getting married to a widower with two teenage children and that she wouldn't be able to carry on in the job. And in the meantime, a job had been planned for her as a commissioning editor. And I was... I happened to be there so as I say, a lot of luck and gold along the way, not much planning.

Til Luchau:

It sounds like luck and passion are interest in books and in the field.

Mary Law:

Yeah.

Andrew Stevenson:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

And you're- am I right in remembering that your paths took you to Elsevier?

Mary Law:

The company that we both worked for that was based in Edinburgh, it was a company called Churchill Livingstone which was acquired by, in fact, acquired first of all by Harcourt. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Til Luchau:

Okay.

Mary Law:

And then that company was broken up and the medical part of it went to Elsevier so we ended up in Elsevier. Yeah.

Til Luchau:

Fantastic.

Whitney Lowe:

Handspring in particular has found such a unique and special niche in this particular area. What caused you to start Handspring?

Andrew Stevenson:

Well, I think it was the alignment of the stars in the sense that gave rise to Handspring. It happened that there were three people who had complementary skills who all were out of a job, had left in this case Else... we'd all left Elsevier at different times for different reasons, we were doing different things. And then one of us said, Hey, why don't we sell the company? And the three people came to me and Mary and Serena Wolfhard came with the skills and knowledge and experience of publishing of many, many years of publishing and in particular experience of this area of bodywork and movement. And we, I think very early on saw the opportunity for something different, something special that was not being done by the bigger companies. We'd had that experience of working for a bigger company, certain amount of frustration and not being able to give authors and indeed customers, the service they, we felt they needed. We felt they deserved.

Andrew Stevenson:

And so our vision was of a company that would work in a very different way and give a much better service to authors also the customers, also to the other stakeholders, to freelancers and our own staff. And I think we were lucky in that subject area, in that I think it's still true now, but 10 years ago, when we started, the market was hungry, the market was hungry for evidence-based, science-based, authoritative professional content. Well produced, well organized, well-illustrated but I think the market was looking to move beyond to professionalize itself, if you like, the customers were looking to become more professional in what they do move perhaps from a craft to profession and having books and up-skilling themselves, understanding the scientific basis of what they were doing. I think it was all part of that. So I think we got in the right moment and we were very conscious of the need to do that, provide that material.

Til Luchau:

And then you... that's great because you're painting a picture of coming from rather large, well-known publishers Churchill Livingstone eventually Harcourt and Elsevier, the giant gorillas in the field and anybody who's done any research or had to look up references and seen those names, but they really have in some ways been the big players, but you, it's from the story you're telling you really felt the desire to create something different and wanted to take a chance and find some people doing some different things and really create an environment where we could write our books and you could share them with the world.

Whitney Lowe:

And I would... I'd like to just take a moment to acknowledge what you all have done with Handspring on that very tack because that's something I don't think many people have thought of very often, which is that a lot of the perceptions of what people see about the very wide and diverse massage and body work communities often represented by the literature that that community produces. And the very robust catalog that you've put together in relatively short period of time of exceptionally well-done books, well researched and really good group of authors that you've put together is just, is I think then an outstanding aspect of really enhancing the perception of what we're doing in our field. I would just like to say thank you to you both for, for taking that dive and doing that.

Andrew Stevenson:

Well, thank you. Well, thanks for saying it. It's interesting. We did in a rather sort of pedant way, write a business plan when we started, we, I guess we'd been too well trained by Elsevier not to write the business plan, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, all that stuff. But we were clear about how we wanted to be different. And if you look back at the business plan now 10 years on what we said then remains valid, in terms of the kind of company, the kind of style we wanted to create the kind of atmosphere or ethos we wanted to create. And indeed the kind of authors we wanted to look for, the topics, and the kind of authors we wanted to look for.

Til Luchau:

What, well, give us a pulll from that. What was something that you were looking for, something that you wanted back then that-

Mary Law:

I think we wanted something to be, one of the frustrations we'd found in working with big companies was the lack of time available to give to authors. And-

Til Luchau:

I'm laughing.

Mary Law:

And we'd also had that feedback from the authors that they had the same frustration.

Til Luchau:

Oh my God.

Mary Law:

We wanted to, and we had the luxury of, because it was our company and our time to be able to give time to develop those personal relationships. And because we were dealing with, for the large part, an author group or a potential author group who hadn't had the experience of writing academic papers. The authors were lovely like you Til, in being willing to listen to our suggestions and advice. Whereas in the more general medical field, that's not always the case, the professors want to do it their way and they don't want to take the advice from the publisher. I think we were able to establish a more balanced between us and our authors. Then it's possible in a larger enterprise.

Andrew Stevenson:

Yes. I think it's more of a partnership. It's been more of a partnership between publisher and author and I think we've been lucky in that. I think the company's benefited from that fact that it is a partnership. It has been the partnership.

Til Luchau:

Well, that was the case for me. And that's nice of you to say Mary, that I took your advice because I remember pushing back on some stuff, but I was always amazed and impressed about how receptive you were to what I was asking for. And we found a way through, which was, I hadn't heard that from my other friends who wrote for other publishers that it didn't go that way exactly. So that I think you'd accomplished that and I'm really grateful in my sense. And I'm just thinking what Whitney said about what a service that's done for our field to allow those of us who have become your authors to tell our stories and share what we do in a very compelling way.

Whitney Lowe:

And I would just for the other listeners out there that don't know some of the other aspects of history and publishing with Til and I, that I was working with Elsevier at the time that both of you were there at Elsevier and recognized exactly what you're talking about with things with the big publisher, not being as much in touch with some of the authors and giving good guidance and help. And all of my colleagues and friends that I know that have written books for Handspring has said, it's a whole different world. I'm really glad to see that your vision came to pass with putting that together. Tell me, in terms of working with some of these, the authors and people you sought out and I know over the years both of you have reached out and said, who should we be talking to?

Whitney Lowe:

And you don't see other publishers doing that so much. And I really think that's been wonderful that you've really made an effort to try to find who are going to be the great voices that need to be heard and need to put things together in a book. What is it that you do helping to get authors to get projects done and get them done well, because certainly a lot of people who are coming to the... this time, maybe writing a first-time book or something may not have been writing much now I would imagine that puts a lot of work on you to try to craft some of these individuals from clinicians into authors.

Mary Law:

Yeah. I mean, I think one thing we try to do is to explain, is to be aware that new authors don't know the publishing process and they don't know what's going to happen next. But we also try to encourage authors always to, and any, I would say to anyone who is thinking of becoming an author to talk to a publisher as early as possible, I mean the real hearts sync situation for a publisher is when someone comes to you with a finished manuscript, which they've really written for themselves without thinking about who is going to buy it and why they should buy it. I would say be clear about what your message is, be clear about who you're trying to get that message across to and be clear about why they might want it and indeed need it.

Mary Law:

And then to talk to the publisher about the structure of the book, even down to the level I would say you need, so you know where your chapters are, you know what author they're going... what order they're going to come in. And you really, we would always ask for a sample chapter so that the structure within each chapter, it's really doing, providing the skeleton for the book before you actually start writing it. You get the bones and then you put the flesh on it later.

Andrew Stevenson:

I would echo what Mary says about being clear about who you're writing for. And we do encounter, we have encountered in our past lives, too many authors who wrote for their peers or wrote for themselves rather than writing for the external audience, the customer, and getting that clear at the outset, thinking what is going to be useful, what is going to excite the reader and how then best express that, getting all that clear at the beginning is very, very important. You were asking in earlier response what makes a good book?

Til Luchau:

Yeah.

Andrew Stevenson:

And that reminded me of the old saying a good book is a good book that sells.

Til Luchau:

Okay.

Andrew Stevenson:

Which of course means that none of us really knows. It's very, very hard to predict what's really going to be a success. The clarity about who the... who you're writing for and what that book is going to do for them is one of the ingredients of making a book a success.

Til Luchau:

You did help me think that process in my proposal, you did help me think through that process. Just your proposal process and the dialogue there actually did ask me as a first-time author to think through as a business plan in that sense too. And that was, it's very-

Mary Law:

In a way it's a bit of a test that proposal form, which I think pretty much all publishers have. And some of... some authors it is very obvious from their reaction, want to leapfrog over that, but that's a certain net that when you're coming to decide do you take that author on or not. That is really a negative, because if they're not prepared to actually follow the... what's being asked for there, they're not going to actually have the discipline to carry on and write the book in the agreed way.

Whitney Lowe:

Do you ever have situations where you have somebody maybe that brings you a proposal for something and you see like, oh, this is really important information. This is really valuable things, but I just don't know that there's going to be a big market for it, but we think this needs to get out there. How... do you ever have a situation where you have to weigh whether or not it's worth it to go into pursuing a project because you think it's good versus it's going to be a smart business decision.

Mary Law:

I would say all the time, really every project you're making that you're weighing that decision on. And some you publish because you think it's important and you hope that the book itself will in a way create the market, but it's a bit of a gamble.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Mary Law:

And it's probably a gamble that bigger publishers can't afford to take, but, and sometimes you lose, you lose the gamble, but ideally you shape it. You these days can publish a smaller number of copies than you were viable in the past, and you test the water and if it takes off then great, you can reprint.

Whitney Lowe:

In, I think, go ahead, Andrew.

Andrew Stevenson:

Yeah. I was going to say what part of the original plan, and obviously until you fitted that perfectly, part of the original plan was to find authors who were heavily involved in teaching, who ideally taught internationally, who were well networked, well known and who to some extent could do their marketing for us because of the inevitable consequences of being very small is you don't have a marketing department of 25 people doing yeah, all five or six channels all the time. And so at the beginning, that was crucially important. But yeah, I mean, it's difficult to create a... it's difficult for a book by itself to create a new market. If the author is doing other things.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Andrew Stevenson:

That may, those other things may create a market together with the book. The book will build on that. It's synergistic with other activities of the author, but every book is a risk, every book you're weighing up costs, and you're weighing up the incredibly hard to project to estimate number of copies you're going to sell, a number of dollars you're going to earn from that book. Very, very hard to project. What surprised us, what took us favorably by surprise was the extent to which foreign language publishers picked up our books. And that's said to been the case with you Til, with your book and to some extent books that were marginal, that's not the case with yours, but some of the other books that were a bit marginal have done really well.

Til Luchau:

Abroad.

Andrew Stevenson:

Through being by the Koreans and then the Chinese, and then sometimes the Italians and sometimes the Germans, Japanese has been, that was great. We didn't, as I say, anticipate quite the extent to which that would happen, but it reflects the internationality of the area.

Til Luchau:

Of the field. Yeah.

Andrew Stevenson:

Way in which interest in bodywork and movement is percolating out from the Anglo world into the other parts of the world.

Til Luchau:

I certainly found that through the invitations that came from publishing with you, I'm teaching in Taiwan, getting invitations from other places, Poland as well, through part of... partly through the interest that people had in Handsprings books. But in retrospect, I'm just curious, what was the... what were the topics say, there was surprising markets, but what were some of topics that surprised you in terms of their either popularity or their lack of?

Andrew Stevenson:

I think, I mean, we had no idea that Jean Claude Guimberteau book was going to do as well as it did. We thought it would do well. We'd seen hit the reaction to him when he spoke at conferences.

Til Luchau:

Yeah.

Andrew Stevenson:

But we had no idea the feeding and frenzy for that book. Again-

Til Luchau:

A feeding frenzy. I'm looking for his book on my shelf so I can say the name. I don't see it right here, but he's Jean Claude Giberto is a hand surgeon who did these fantastic pictures of living fascia with his high- resolution camera. And then you published a book of his amazing imagery.

Andrew Stevenson:

And that was a good example to which Mary can speak of working closely with the author to turn an idea into a reality, because it was extremely labor-intensive, Mary do you want to comment on that?

Mary Law:

It was three years of my life Andrew.

Andrew Stevenson:

Your kidding.

Mary Law:

Jean Claude wrote, I think he wrote it first in French. He then translated it himself or tried to but his English was such that we really needed to translate it again into good English, but without changing the sense. We needed an expert in the sub... in the content material to work with us and through Jean Claude we felt we're introduced to this lovely osteopath Colin Armstrong, who is married to a French woman and lives and works in France and is pretty, pretty much bilingual. And who had met Jean Claude, I think he'd actually gone up and introduced himself after hearing Giberto speak at one of the Flasher conferences. And Colin and I spent two mornings a week for about three years going through this text, putting it into what we thought was good English, but it then had to go back to Jean Claude to make sure that we actually hadn't misunderstood anything. The amount of backwards and forwards really with almost three authors involved was...

Til Luchau:

Substantial.

Mary Law:

A luxury in terms of time spent on a book. And, but at that point, we really didn't have much in the way of other books to work on, so we could afford to do it.

Til Luchau:

Other topics that's individual authors, but have you... have you been, what have you learned about the arc of the field's interest, what's changed over time? Over 10 years?

Mary Law:

I mean, I think one it going back to what Andrew was saying about her getting authors to help us with getting the word out about their books and it links into the translations point as well is actually the use of the internet. And the fact that there are webinars like this, that authors can teach online to an audience anywhere in the world. And as Andrew suggested we very much, if an author like you Til was very active online, then that was a potentially a good person to get to write for us.

Whitney Lowe:

Clearly the... we've seen such incredible changes in the publishing industry in the last several decades. And with the emergence Mary, as you were saying, of digital texts and digital publishing platforms and things like that, was there ever a time because I've certainly listened in on a lot of these discussions, for example, in the textbook and academic authors associations and other groups like that, wondering if, and you hear the predictions about textbooks are dead or books are going away or something like that. Was there ever a time when you wondered if the print publishing world was going to go the way of some of these other things of newspapers and other places where they've really become overcome by digital products?

Andrew Stevenson:

I think not, not recently. I think if you go back 20 or 30 years when New Media first came along, when we first started talking about New Media, I suppose, 1980s actually, there was a thought, a concern then that the print book might disappear and that thought has recurred. And there's a school, there was always a proportion of people who will say, oh, books are dead. I certainly, since we started or when we started Handspring and subsequently, never had that fear. I think the enthusiasm that you see at conferences in those days, there's wonderful days when we had face to face conferences and you could stand behind a table with lots of books and meet customers and hear them talking about them. And obviously they're a self-selected group to some extent, but even so the enthusiasm for the printed paper page did not seem to diminish.

Andrew Stevenson:

I think one thing you've got to remember, or one thing I've... I have to remember is that books are not just the content. They're not just the... if you like, the intellectual property, they're more than that. They... books are symbolic. My view, they're symbolic for the customer, the reader of what they, the readers see themselves as being or becoming and achieving that becoming is not just a matter of absorbing the words, the bits. It's also about the physicality of the book, the way the words work with the pictures, lots of aspects of the book contribute to helping the read as the customers again, I think see themselves as professionals. I think the printed book is a better tool for doing that than an entirely electronic product.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Andrew Stevenson:

And it surprised-

Mary Law:

Increasingly our books were... had electronic add-ons if you like. I mean, Jean-Claude Guimberteau's book is a good example where we had QR codes within the text alongside the illustrations, which would then take you to an online video from which the illustration was just a still that had been taken from the video. And some of our... some of the other, several other books we did that with, I think I was at conferences at the beginning, was quite surprised that there wasn't more, there weren't more people coming back up and saying, have you got that as an eBook? But in fact, in the end we published both. All our books also were available as eBooks.

Andrew Stevenson:

Yeah.

Mary Law:

Some people bought both, they liked to have it on their Kindle or whatever, but they like to have the paper book to handle and keep on their shelf to look at.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, there's something to me about, I have probably, I don't know, I'm going to guess somewhere around 75 to maybe a hundred books on my iPad that are eBooks in the Kindle, lying in my Kindle library. And I love the idea that I can take all 75 books on an airplane with me because I don't know what I'm going to want to read on a long airplane trip. But then in my office there's something about turning around and looking at the books that are on the bookshelf for inspiration, for ideas, or just thumbing through things and randomly going to pages that still make a print book have its real unique facets. And I think you're absolutely right that there really are pros and cons and benefits of each of those. But I do also want to just make this quick point also for some of our other listeners about the print book, because I've read a lot of research into this by looking at what's what are some of the best ways to produce content for students.

Whitney Lowe:

And there are some unique facets of, and this is something else I want to call out with the design work that you have done at Handspring with the titles that you've produced because they're very, they're not just good books, but they're very well designed. And the visual design element seems to have at least according to some of the educational research, some very strong benefits of helping people recall and remember things because they can visualize where that graphic was positioned on the page and call that back up in terms of restoring memory about something that they read somewhere, which is a lot more difficult to do with a digital product. And that seems to be one of the things that people say like, well, this is why I like books, but they may... they don't really know exactly why that is, but they just seem to remember things better sometimes.

Til Luchau:

There's a spatial aspect to learning and memory.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

And just that really fits with the physicality of our field. We really are working with actual bodies and the actual time, actual space.

Mary Law:

That's great. We were very lucky. I mean, we worked with the same designer all the way through 99% of our books anyway, who had years of experience and I think understood the importance of the visual layout of the book for learning.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Andrew Stevenson:

And I think we wanted to produce books and maybe it was a bit self-indulgent, I don't know, but we wanted to produce books that would be beautiful. Things would be objects of virtue in their own right. And I think we succeed in that well, too. I think your books are examples of that.

Til Luchau:

Very kind. And no, I have the same thought process or similar one where I think is it enough that I just like how it looks? Maybe I should use other measures than that, but in the end, just the fact that I like how it looks is enough for me.

Andrew Stevenson:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

Yeah.

Andrew Stevenson:

It needs to be a good book as well.

Til Luchau:

Okay. All right.

Andrew Stevenson:

Yours is, but it doesn't do any harm to have a book that's well designed, well illustrated, well printed on good paper, well bound doesn't-

Mary Law:

That makes you want to pick it.

Andrew Stevenson:

Yeah.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. Well, what has... you've been at this for a while? Both in Handspring, and then prior, but what would you bookmark or highlight as some of the changes, what's changed during the tenure of your time here?

Mary Law:

Technology I would-

Til Luchau:

Yeah.

Mary Law:

Highlight actually, both the internet we've already talked about and how that has helped and made the creation of the market for the book and reaching the customers easier. But also the fact that in the old days, it wasn't economical to print say 500 copies, but now you can really, you can print on demand if you want to. You've still got the same upfront costs of the design and the layout and the setting costs, but where the economics has changed is actually in the ability to print short print runs so that's-

Til Luchau:

But any thoughts on what's changed in the content or what sells? Enormous changes in the publishing industry, what about in the topics that you've seen emerge? I'm just thinking, you mentioned the internet, how much the internet say escalated scientific discourse and change in how rapidly things, ideas would come and go. And I think it's done something similar in terms of the different topics or interests in our field. And I just wonder about your thought about that, what's changed in the way that people are interested in things or the way that people choose topics?

Andrew Stevenson:

I think, well, I think the internet has possibly made people more demanding.

Til Luchau:

Yeah.

Andrew Stevenson:

And so the features we include in books are richer and more varied because of the internet. Because of that expectation that the internet has conveyed, I think the availability, the easy access to basic science, to basic research has probably influenced our books in the sense that, and this something we wanted right from the beginning, we were looking for books that where possible would give the scientific basis, would give the evidence base, the research base for what the author was saying. I think that's only become more prevalent. We'll become more pronounced.

Andrew Stevenson:

I think the 10 years in some ways is quite a short time, some ways is a very long time, but I think the changes, the big changes that enabled Handspring to set itself up and exist in the way it has existed probably happened a bit before 10 years ago. And they were those points that Mary's made. And also the fact that for 3, 4, 5 people working from different locations with authors all over the world, with suppliers, freelance editors, freelance illustrators, freelance designers, typesetters, printers, all scattered all over the world that can work. You couldn't be a small company operating off a kitchen table and deploying all those resources from all over the world that would've been very difficult to do 30 or 40 years ago. The internet has transformed that and it's got better and better, it's... there are more and more tools to help you do that better and better. That's been the big change from the publishing side, as opposed to the content side.

Mary Law:

I think on the content side, what one, the big change has actually been the breakdown of professional barriers that people share certainly, well in the bodywork field anyway, in the manual therapist field, people are keen to share information. You no longer have this is the field of osteopaths. This is the field of massage therapy. This is the field of other groups.

Til Luchau:

That's right.

Mary Law:

Everybody wants the same stuff. And I think we've always been very careful not to say in our book titles that this is a book for...

Til Luchau:

Particular sector.

Mary Law:

Small group, yeah, exactly. And so that in itself has actually widened the market for, if we do a book on Alexander Technique or Reiki or Feldenkrais. We are not just looking at one very small group, we're looking at the whole field.

Til Luchau:

That really strikes a chord for me because it's, I mean, in the tradition that I was teaching in and trained in there were really strong injunctions about sharing information outside of it, and a suspicion of publishing or even putting things down. There was a lot of energy toward keeping it an oral based tradition or a passed on tradition because of the injunction against sharing. But that's really... that really has changed painfully sometimes in the process of opening. But no, I think what you're saying is insightful and really represents a major change in the field. There's so much more interaction interplay now.

Whitney Lowe:

I have a question for, maybe this is a bigger picture umbrella question too, for how you all see the current and future aspects of some pieces of the publishing industry, because a lot of the stuff that I have read and come across about pressures that some of the other large publishing companies are under, especially the ones that are serving the academic communities. And this would be Elsevier and Saunders and or Pearson, some of those other very large organizations that have really, especially in the College and University market seen a lot of challenges to their former economic models because of the proliferation of used textbook outlets and places for people to buy the textbooks instead of buying them new.

Whitney Lowe:

And just curious, how you think some of those things might change the publishing world. Because it seems what that's done is driven a lot of those publishers to really lean on the authors to come out with new additions more frequently so that there are always newer books available for... to combat that use bookmark. Do you see that impacting some of the stuff with what you're doing?

Andrew Stevenson:

I think less so, but I think it's there. I think there's an interesting history, again, going back probably at least 30 years of college textbook publishers, particularly in the USA, adding functions to their books, adding ancillary to their books to make them more suitable for courses to maximize their ability, to get class adoptions in an environment where they, where a class adoption meant you get a hundred sales guaranteed, whatever the class sizes. And there began to be an arms race between the college publishers to add better and better ancillaries. And that pushed up prices of college textbooks. And this is not so much a feature on our side of Atlantic, but it was certainly a feature on your side of the Atlantic, that college textbooks became to command or demand astronomical prices. And I don't know, I've not been in touch with that area so much recently.

Andrew Stevenson:

I don't know what's happened to that, but we have one little insight into it through Handspring, which was the decision on the part of a number of the major publishers to pull out of massage therapy publishing.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Andrew Stevenson:

Pull out of entry-level and well, to some extent high-level massage therapy textbooks. And that was because, partly because there'd been decline in the market, declined in the numbers, but also because they'd reached a point where they can't make the... they can't make a profit, they could not make a profit without pretty massive sales. Sales which they were achieving with a first-year psychology textbook or a first-year economic textbook. But they weren't achieving with a first-year massage therapy in such an area textbook.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Andrew Stevenson:

And so they decided not to go on and we took over, we have, Handspring took over some of those textbooks and we had to say to the market, well, okay, you're not going to get all those ancillaries. You're not going to get for instance, an electronic platform learning management system supplied by a publisher like Handspring. The reason is that the college textbook that had your books couldn't make money if they had to provide that panoply of ancillary stuff so they got out. You have a choice as customers, either you don't get books at all, or you get books which are simpler, which are going back to what they were perhaps like 30 years ago. So that's been an interesting cycle.

Mary Law:

We also upped the academic level, I think it's fair to say of those books so that we were aiming them more at the newly qualified therapist.

Whitney Lowe:

Right.

Mary Law:

Rather than at the student, because we recognize the difficulty in getting college adoptions.

Til Luchau:

You really, yeah, you really have provided something else besides the mass market and besides just entry level textbooks. And I wrote, I remember when I was writing mine, I got advice from my textbook author friends to include certain aspects or features that would make it amenable to use in classrooms. And in the end, maybe it's just because of the content that didn't happen much. There were a few schools that used my book, but mostly it was the people that I teach to, which are practicing professionals that end up with the book.

Til Luchau:

And so you've, through your model of being able to nurture projects through and see them through because of the vision or because of the beauty, because of the value of the project itself, you've really made that possible, I think for our whole field. So as, and in thinking about wrapping it up, I'm just wondering any thoughts you have about what do you think the field needs now? What is... what does the field need now, both in the terms of sharing information and publishing, but even in topics, content trends, where would you love to see us go? Having been so close with us these last decades.

Mary Law:

It's really, I mean, it's post COVID world, isn't it? That, well, sadly not post COVID, but with COVID world, Andrew mentioned earlier one of the joy of going to conferences, which was partly to present our books, but also to have the opportunity to meet authors, listen to speakers and see who were the ones who were setting the audience on fire. I don't know that I really know the answer actually, because I think so many of the opportunities that we had have, really aren't there at the moment. I mean, one hopes that the face to face conferences, that face to face teaching is going to come back.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah.

Mary Law:

I don't know. Andrew, what would you say?

Andrew Stevenson:

I think it is very hard to answer the question. I was going to ask you whether you think looking 10 or 20 years ahead.

Til Luchau:

Yeah.

Andrew Stevenson:

The disciplines, which you know and disciplines which are adjacent to yours are going to become ever more science-based.

Til Luchau:

Yes.

Andrew Stevenson:

And whether somehow other you're going to manage to increase the research content of what you're doing, which requires funding of course and that's always been an issue. Where'd you get the funding from research in your area and whether that's going to give rise to an opportunity for primary publishing, for research publishing in your area and whether what possible development, not in the very short term, but in the medium long term will be a significant amount of primary research publishing in your areas. It's a moment.

Til Luchau:

Yeah.

Andrew Stevenson:

Research publishing that is done. I mean, you've got JBMT and you've got a few other journals. Some of it goes, quite a lot of it actually goes into conventional existing science journals, physiology journals, or whatever.

Til Luchau:

The journal of movement and body therapies, is that you're talking about? Journals that publish research per se in the field. And there's not that many.

Andrew Stevenson:

Whether they'll be building on journals like JBMT which was Leon, I guess, Leon Chaitow's vision, whether there'll be more of that.

Til Luchau:

No.

Andrew Stevenson:

Whether there'll be, for instance, a fascia-specific journal, fascia research-specific journal.

Mary Law:

Which JBMT has had issues, which were specifically on fascia. And I think, I mean, it also comes back to authors sometimes going back to what might be a comment that maybe you hope a book can make the market. What we've often suggested to authors where we felt that there was a good idea, but the market wasn't there yet is to say, go and publish the research in a journal and create the interest in that way. Maybe then get... do a chapter in somebody else's book, increase the interest a little bit more. And then come back with the idea for the book.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I think we end up having some of those challenges where it's one of those things of is the cart before the horse in our field, because we don't really have a very strong academic model at our entry level training to create a groundswell of people to eventually do a lot of this research. I think that's one of the things that makes it a lot slower and harder to see implementations of those things happening in our field because it's just going to take a lot longer before they are really academically inclined individuals who've got... gotten through that training to lead the way as a-

Til Luchau:

Lots of people.

Whitney Lowe:

Many other fields. Yeah.

Til Luchau:

That's right, lots of people would agree that research would be, more research would be great, but do we have the infrastructure in our field to really provide that? Well, Andrew, I like your... you turned the question around a bit and you got me thinking too, what would I like to see in terms of this too? And I... first thought is I would love to see even more interchange or more development, both of research and science-based narratives, understanding what we're doing, but also for the role of say wisdom-based traditions or lineage based traditions as well. And that juxtaposition that that richness provides in our field. We have both and there are, there certainly is a movement towards more scientific understanding and development we're doing, but there's such a rich tradition of other ways of knowing and valuing too, that I'd love to see get along a little better. Maybe that's my wish for the world too. Would it be nice if we could just get along a little better and have even more interchange of less sectors in this whole thing.

Whitney Lowe:

Would be good.

Andrew Stevenson:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think that it's back to what Mary was saying about the cross-fertilization between disciplines, which struck us as soon as we got into this area, we were very positively impressed by that cross-fertilization. And I think there's only more of that happening now with different disciplines talking to each other, having conferences together and recognizing that a lot of what you are doing in one side of the fence is the same actually as what I'm doing on the other side of the fence.

Til Luchau:

That's right.

Andrew Stevenson:

I think that will only grow and that's also good.

Mary Law:

Yeah. I think terminology has often been a barrier and I think that's changing. I can remember a few years ago having discussion about trying to have a common language of terms in the body work field, but I think the cross, I think it's happening naturally actually now.

Andrew Stevenson:

Yeah. I think yoga's quite an interesting example where you talk about lineage based discipline, where one of the books we're proudest of publishing, I guess, is that edited by Sat Bir KHALSA called Principles and Practice of Yoga in Healthcare, which brings together and then picking up the point of research put... brings together what research there is about the efficacy of yoga in helping people, different health conditions. And that has struck a chord, that book's been amazingly successful again, beyond our expectations. And I think that's because you've got out, got the growth in yoga therapist discipline, rapid growth in yoga therapy as an area. But the idea that you can bring together, there is actually a substantial Corpus of research in an area that's traditionally seen as lineage-based, has been very attracted to people.

Til Luchau:

We'll be sure to put a link to that in the show notes, as well as to your catalog as a whole. Anything you want to leave us with, any closing thoughts that you want to end with today?

Andrew Stevenson:

Well, you very kindly introduced us by saying that we had created a shelf of books. We created a list that was of benefit to these various disciplines. It's been 10 years, I think Mary and I agree we've had a great deal of fun in over those 10 years in building up the list. We had no idea, although we had that business plan, we didn't really know where we'd be in 10 years time. We have very mixed feelings about having left, moved on from the company. We think it's in good hands, but we, yeah, we'll, we have some regrets about no longer being involved in it. But I think at the same time, that's balanced by some sense of satisfaction that we've created something useful over the 10 years for your disciplines.

Til Luchau:

You've been acquired so your exit from the field is part of that handing over to the next owners, the JKP's Singing Dragon. That's your mixed feelings about that. Thank you. What were you going to say, Mary?

Mary Law:

I just wanted to say that it's also been, it's been, it's been fun, it's been interesting, but also in addition to creating a beautiful library of books, we've also created many friendships and been privileged to become friends I think with a lot of people who we would never have met otherwise. Those are the things I shall treasure quite apart from the published bliss.

Andrew Stevenson:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Til Luchau:

Well, a deep thank you both for the support you gave me, but also for the contributions to our field and I will miss your active day-to-day engagement in the field. I know you'll still be around, but certain the legacy you've left us and the, all of the titles and all of the authors you've developed over the years, it's going to be with us for many, many decades to come so thank you both.

Whitney Lowe:

Yes, indeed. Thanks from both us. And again, thank you we'll wrap up with our guest Andrew Stevenson and Mary Law from Handspring. And I would like to mention also that The Thinking Practitioner Podcast is sponsored and supported by ABMP, the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. ABMP membership gives professional practitioners like you, a package, including individual liability insurance, free continuing education and quick reference apps, legislative advocacy, and much more. ABMP CE courses, podcast, and massage and bodywork magazine always feature expert voices and new perspectives in the profession, including both Til and me. Thinking Practitioner listeners can save on joining ABMP at abmp.com/thinking. Once again, we'd like to say a thank you to all our sponsors and all of our listeners. You can stop by our sites for show notes, transcripts and extras. You can find that over on my site at Academyofclinicalmassage.com and Til where can they find that with you?

Til Luchau:

That's Advanced-Trainings.com. If you have questions or things you'd like to hear us talk about email us at info@thethinkingpractitioner.com or look for us on social media. Our names remain, my name Til Luchau and yours Whitney?

Whitney Lowe:

And mine Whitney Lowe. You can also rate us over on Apple Podcast as it helps other people find the show. And you can listen to us on Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcast, or wherever else you happen to listen. Please do share the word and tell a friend and we'll see you again in two weeks. Thanks again, everybody.

Huge thanks to our founding sponsors:

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