The blueprint for this business is starting to diverge. There’s the publishing stuff that I can do – that I love doing – but which takes experience and skill, and contacts. I already have a really distinct sense of where I could take that and what is the nature of the various risks associated with the different titles and products. This is a very personal business, but I don’t know just how far one can go with being a writer and publisher and trying to design the business so you can sell it to someone else later. It’s a bit like those intense hobby shops that live and die by their owners (Bernard Black, notably), but which are virtually worthless if you try a trade sale. Plus, you can’t duplicate them. If I can, I will, but maybe putting off doing something just because you can’t replicate and scale it isn’t a good idea. It might be that the most important thing is to make a start and see what happens later.
With the social enterprise, I think I know where to take that one, too. It would be a community-owned frachise that makes money providing services that have traditionally almost no margin and are therefore usually very ably provided by volunteers or very shittily (new adverb) by operators who will tolerate impossibly narrow returns. I am thinking, for example, of the provision of school lunches or stationery supplies. More on that one later.
In the meantime, the publishing business could get off the ground by selling goods en primeur. Nobody would buy a caseload of the same title as they would wine, but they might buy a mixed case of product that they could on-sell at a profit. It is in this direction that Haverin Books needs to head. I am beginning to get my bearings and I now have a good feeling for which way is North.