An Interview with Claire de Gruchy one of our reps in the many territories of the Middle East

Boydell is proud to have our list handled by teams of expert representatives around the world. They know exactly where to show our new publications and we know they do our books and our authors a great service. Let’s learn a little more about them and their work…

IntroducingClaire de Gruchy

Where are you based and which territories do you cover?
Based in West Oxfordshire about 7 miles outside Oxford

Algeria, Israel, Jordan, Malta, Morocco, Palestine, Turkey, Tunisia

How did you get into repping?
I went to work as a sales support/admin assistant in 1993 for a company that represented publishers in the Near and Middle East and after I had been with them for about 12 months, they asked if I would like to go out repping and handed me an airline ticket to Greece, hotel reservations and a pile of catalogues and a list of booksellers in Athens and Thessaloniki.  The rest as they say is history and I soon took on Turkey, Malta, Jordan and the French speaking North African countries. 

And how long have you been looking after the Boydell list?
Since 2017.

Who are your main clients?

Homer Bookshop, Istanbul – independent bricks and mortar and online retailer and publisher, specialist in archaeology and classics.

Minoa, Istanbul – independent bookshop, one of the most beautiful bookshops I have seen.  One of the owners is an architect and interior designer.  The shop includes a café and fully licensed restaurant.  They really think outside the box and have a coffee roasting machine in the cookery section selling their own branded coffee beans; they sell plants in the gardening section as well as their own stationery.

NCP, Istanbul – originally a specialist wholesaler of books for English as a Foreign Language.  Then changes in Turkey in recent years have forced them to re-evaluate the business.   They now mainly wholesale fiction and popular non-fiction titles to bookstores in Turkey which do not import; they are one of the major suppliers of (although books are not a major focus for Amazon Turkey) and they have become the sole distributor to a large new art space with a good bookshop which opened in Istanbul in 2018. 

Pandora Book Service, Istanbul – independent bricks and mortar and online retailer with an excellent non-fiction section.

Educational Bookshop, Jerusalem – they specialise in books on the Israeli-Palestinian question and probably have one of the finest collections in the Middle East.  They are very proactive when it comes to organising book launches and events. 

Pomeranz, Jerusalem – not the easiest customer to deal with but their collection of books on the Holocaust and Judaism is one of the largest in the world. 

Probook, Tel Aviv – the biggest library suppliers and wholesale distributors in Israel, determined to take on GOBI and the Book Depository. 

Shalosh, Tel Aviv – a small new start up company, still in their infancy but they really think outside the box selling books into non-traditional outlets – music stores, fashion and design stores, toy shops.

These are my best clients.  I have another 50+ that I deal with. 

Before the Coronavirus, how often and how widely did you travel? Is there such a thing as an average day for you?
Before Covid I would normally spend about normally spend an average of 14 – 16 weeks a year travelling to countries in my territories.  This would include one trip a year to Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, Greece, Jordan and Malta; two trips a year to Israel and Turkey (Istanbul and Ankara) and I would normally visit Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria once every couple of years. 

There is no average day as I am dealing with customers who have different working weeks and different holiday periods too so they forget that we do not work on Sunday in the UK and do not take into account that Easter and especially the Christmas/New Year periods are significant and lengthy holidays.  When I am on an overseas trip I aim to be at my computer by 7 am to answer some e-mails before heading out to appointments and the day ends in a similar fashion. 

Do you have a favourite city to work in?

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve encountered in your work?
Mistaking Sheep’s Brains for Cauliflower during dinner with a customer. 

Boydell volumes aside, which is your favourite book or author?
Barbara Nadel – she writes a crime series set in Istanbul, there are now about 20 books in the series – her knowledge of Istanbul and understanding of Turkish society and politics are second to none.  Enthralling and fascinating books that offer some degree of light relief at the end of a busy day or on a long flight. 

Print or ebook?
Print for sure even though it adds to the weight of my luggage on trips. 

Favourite historical figure?
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – founder of the modern secular Turkish Republic and a champion of women’s rights. 

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Nicole Kidman

What’s top of your 2021 to-do list?
Visit my favourite markets and meet my lovely customers face to face again.  There is only so much that can be achieved by e-mail or through video chats in markets where people still do business with people and personal contact and relations are of tantamount importance. 

Thank you for taking part!

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