Book that puts the Cherries on top for Bournemouth Echo

Not for the first time, ANTON RIPPON has had a great publishing idea, years ahead of its time

Way back in the early 1980s, I had what I thought was a good idea: I would publish a book in conjunction with the Derby Evening Telegraph. I’d just left the paper to go freelance and set up my own book publishing company. It seemed a mutually beneficial plan.

The notion was less than well received. The paper’s deputy editor looked puzzled. “But we publish newspapers, not books,” he told me. “Why would we want to get into books?”

I could see that I wasn’t going to persuade him otherwise, but eventually he left the paper, and I went back to find a more receptive ear. Not only did I publish a book with them – it was nothing original, just old photographs of the city (or town as it was when the pictures were taken) – but before I knew it I was also doing the same with newspapers the length and breadth of the British Isles, literally, from Aberdeen to Jersey, Dublin to Grimsby.

Bournemouth celebration: a book whose time has come
Bournemouth celebration: a book whose time has come

The concept was simple: they provided the pictures and the captions, I paid for the printing (the papers’ logos were prominent on the jackets), they sold the books on full sale or return at a 40 per cent discount, and they received 10 per cent of everything that I sold elsewhere. And, of course, I was getting free advertising worth thousands of pounds because the books were constantly featured in the newspapers concerned.

It worked like a dream. Everyone was a winner. Several came back for more.

The South Wales Evening Post’s Images of Swansea sold 12,000 copies in next to no time and I went on to publish four more similar titles with them.

Mostly the books were on that familiar theme – “Your town/city as it used to be” – but I also did football, cricket, and variations on local history such as Hull: The Fishing Years with the Hull Daily Mail.

I forget where that unimaginative deputy editor landed up, but by now newspapers were doing more than just helping to publish books. They were selling models of newspaper delivery vans, and even foreign holidays. It’s funny how the world changes.

Now they run websites that irritate readers by plonking pop-up advertisements over stories that we were halfway through reading. One day, I think, the only thing that newspapers won’t produce is newspapers…

I was chuntering about all this to my old pal, George Edwards, former sports editor and deputy editor (no, it wasn’t him) of the Derby Evening Telegraph and editor of the South Wales Evening Post (where he had the foresight to take up my idea, with those spectacular results). I said that today there are things happening that, even a few years ago, if you had predicted them then folk would have said you were barmy.

“You mean,” said George, “like Bournemouth being in the Premier League?”

Which brings me full-circle (and why take a short cut to the point when you can travel by the scenic route?): the local newspaper has just published a book about that very event.

The Bournemouth Echo has marked AFC Bournemouth’s rise to the Premier League by releasing a book called, appropriately enough, AFC Bournemouth – The Cherries 1890 to the Premier League.

The 160-page hardback contains more than 500 photographs from the club’s history, showing how they started life as Boscombe St John’s Lads Institute FC before becoming Boscombe FC, then Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic FC, and now …

The book showcases some of the club’s most memorable moments including giant-killing FA Cup runs – Manchester United have been victims – escapes from relegation, and promotion celebrations.

Manager Eddie Howe has signed off the foreword.

The Echo’s acting editor, Andy Martin, said: “Now is an amazing time to be an AFC Bournemouth fan, with Eddie Howe leading the team to heights that no-one would ever have thought possible.

“This book celebrates that success but also looks back at the club’s history and some of the tough times the club has gone through.

“It is a great souvenir for fans as the club enjoys its first season in football’s top flight.”

The book follows on from the Echo’s previous celebrations of the club’s promotion in April, which saw a souvenir edition printed featuring a front-page wrap.

The book can be ordered for £14.95, and will be available at the Echo’s offices in Bournemouth and Swanage as well as local bookshops.

I knew it was a good idea.

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