Anonymous

1999/141 Name withheld interviewed in his own home by Dr Heather Holmes on 25 August 1999

000 March 1953. Office assistant to one of the editors Robin Barber. Translation of new testament to Scots was first job.
021 Was 25 years old, had to learn the basics of proofs. Nelson was the form to work for in Edinburgh, 6 months traineeship.
049 Informal training; basics of monotype setting. Style of setting. Nelsons house style.
070 Material academic of good style. Adopted house style, would alter manuscripts to house style.
091 Robin Mackie obituary. Boss in charge of small number of academic publishers. Books published e.g. anthology of South African missions.

120 Books worked on. 'Life of Hume' author came and went on a book tour. Not much contact with authors. Some would visit office, but not many.

149 In editorial department there was 50 people at work. Draft would be sent to experts to get their opinion on the manuscript.

175 Some manuscripts would be sent externally. Relationship between editorial and sales and production departments. Directors producing books to please friends. Educational and school books and prestige books. Examples of prestige books.

228 Viewing of books and illustrations

238 Discussion of how well books sold. Not aware of print runs. A lot of books produced from different editors: competition between editors to see whose books were being printed. Those departments who brought in most money would get priority.

270 Theory was that if you produced a prestige book it was supposed to rub off on more ordinary sales.

275 Prestige books: lavishly illustrated books which would not make much money.

295 John Buchan's autobiography. Tommy Nelson who died during the war. Never met him, but knew a lady who knew him well.

313 Editorial tea party every Friday afternoon for 45 minutes last thing. Partly social and partly business.

328 Argument whether should print anti-Nelsons review in Nelsons print shop. Scottish Historical Review.

340 3 people in his editorial department. 6 months informal training to learn formatting. Large number of floating employees. Mr Dixon elderly; 80 years old.

376 Ronnie Nelson would talk to Miss Ewell. Robin Law (his boss) said that Ronnie Nelson was the only old Etonian he had ever met with no personal charm.

388 Ronnie Nelson not around that much. Book on Swiss Railway system; taken on because Ronnie keen on trains. Not very popular.

400 New York department not doing well. Ronnie ruthless and sacked manager of New York office. H P Lawrenson would decide on certain books and they would get published.

424 Nelsons taken over by the Thompson Organisation. Other editorial units were educational and religious works. Catholic commentary which boss did not like. Books Robin Law was not happy dealing with. Managing Director of Publishing Mr Lorimer who was fired after a row with Leslie Barber.

470 School books for western Africa; move in that direction. He was trained informally by learning the house styles for academic and philosophy authors. Wide range of type faces. Hot metal monotype setting. Nelsons classics produced using linotype machines.

504 Features of type to make nice impression on the reader. No set style of all books, each book individual.

525 Given a deadline in the knowledge that it would take longer; 6 months for each book which was quite short time. Example of editing time of 'Jurors' by David Walker.

551 Dealing with particular authors. Not that much direct contact as he was in a trainee position and his work checked.

564 Didn't socialise outwith work. Kept in touch with Robin Lorimer after he left. Lived out of town in East Lothian.

573 Worked 9am -5pm. Status of editorial department. More highly educated and not time served. Many were officers in the army and would often be referred to as Captain or a Colonel.

587 Were made tea out of cupboard off office. Location of office on the first floor. Lunch would get one hour; people did not go together. Not there long enough to get to know people.

624 Didn't go into factory much. Would go in to sort out typeface. Careful with labour relations, did not talk to shop floor. Harmonious in Nelsons.

651 Reading manuscripts. Nelsons a nice place to work; family atmosphere. Nicer in John Buchan's day more than later on. Went downhill under Ronnie Nelson.

698 Nelson during the depression. Nelson fairly laid back hours. Were flexible.

725 Not a member of a union. Print section closed shop. On own and made own deal regarding pay and conditions.

749 Lorimer had reputation for having rows. Had to be string minded to deal with him.

772 Got £400 a year pay which was average for his job.

784 McDougall's were an educational company which he went to after Nelson. Much smaller than Nelsons. Did not ask if he could stay on, just assumed it was time to go. Went to poultry farm and then McDougalls. 1954 - 1961 Oliver and Boyd and then went to W and A K Johnstons and W Green and Co.

835 Much the same as McDougalls in conditions. Were just publishers by this time.

849 Were educational contractors who would produce blackboards and desks. No room for career advancement. There was only one editor and he was assistant editor, not able to progress. 4 people working in the employ of the Dixon family.

877 Oliver and Boyd were the best employers that he had. Precarious working in firms that had at one time been prosperous and were in trouble. Taken over.

892 Space to move side wards into other companies. Careful not to compare. Directors of firms knew each other. Nelsons disappeared.

908 In Nelsons a rigid structure between men and women. All bosses male. Some women in editorial. Ladies coming to the top. In Morrison and Gibbs a lot of senior women owned by women.

944 End.

 

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