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How this independent publisher changes lives by changing minds

As part of our Meet the Maker series, we meet Miranda West, publisher of the Do Book Company

As part of our Meet the Maker series, we speak to the people behind the creations in the Big Issue Shop – a platform for buying ethical products which put people and the planet first. This time, we speak to Miranda West, publisher of the Do Book Company.

What can we find on your part of The Big Issue Shop?

“Some small but powerful books! We publish a collection of inspirational pocket guides for creative entrepreneurs, makers and Doers across business, design, wellbeing and sustainable living. “

How do your products make a positive difference in the world?

“The books are designed to inspire positive change in the reader. Whether that’s learning a new skill, a shift in mindset, or a change in outlook. They focus on the ‘doing’ not the background theory.”

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What inspired you to start your company and how did it start?

“Now you’re asking. I’ve worked in book publishing my whole working life – from an academic press to a small indie to Penguin Random House. But I always had an itch to start my own business. A few years ago, a friend sent me a link to an online Do Lecture.

“I hadn’t come across the Do Lectures before so spent some time on their website. Here were some of the world’s Doers, changemakers, innovators and pioneers sharing their stories in a heartfelt – and from what I could tell, largely unscripted – way to inspire those listening to go and ‘Do’. Whilst I hadn’t heard of the majority of the speakers, the talks felt authentic and the stories real – and that was really appealing. I emailed the ‘info@’ address that afternoon to say how much I liked the website and to ask if they had ever considered publishing books by their speakers.

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“I wasn’t expecting a reply but one came that afternoon! They had thought about it but didn’t have the time or the expertise to make it happen. After some calls, emails and a visit to the event in the depths of west Wales, it was decided that I’d start their publishing arm: The Do Book Co.

“From each copy sold, we pay the author a royalty and a separate royalty of five per cent goes back into the Do Lectures to help it achieve its aims of positive change. We launched in 2013 with five books and some apprehension. Thankfully people seemed to like the books and find them useful. That was nearly 10 years ago and we’re now up to nearly 40 books!”

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The Do Book Company team in their Hackney studio. Image: Supplied

What is the biggest issue everyone should know about at the moment?

“For me, it’s mending our relationship to the planet and to each other. I’ve always prided myself on being an independent publisher – having that spirit of independence and not being part of the mainstream – and whilst that’s admirable, I’m realising that collaboration is not only important but hugely beneficial.

“I really hope we’re going to see more businesses working together, sharing resources and supporting each other. Recently one of our authors spoke about the ‘Age of Individualism’ that we’ve been in for years; obsessed with finding our true selves and so on.

“But we’re gradually coming out of it, possibly helped by the pandemic – we were forced to deal with something much bigger than us – and we looked beyond ourselves and immediate circles, and our communities became stronger as a result. It’s the same approach with the planet, once we stop seeing it as a separate entity and something that we’re part of, it becomes obvious that we need to nurture and protect it.”

What is one thing anyone can do to make a positive difference?

“Spend five minute listening to someone – or if it’s a passing stranger, just give them a smile. I love the idea that we never quite know the effect these tiny actions can have on others.”

To find the Do Book Company on the Big Issue Shop, click here.

And to find more ethical products on the Big Issue shop, click here.

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