Tempus fugit

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Would you like to be the chief publisher of the Tempus archaeological books?

You would commission and publish some 40 books a year – mostly on British archaeology. Peter Kemmis Betty, who has built up the Tempus archaeological book list from the start, is about to retire and is looking for a successor.

Peter has been in archaeological publishing all his life. After reading classics at Cambridge (and getting a first) he began his career with Batsfords, where he eventually became Managing Director specialising in archaeology, chess, and the traditional Batsford menu of the arts and crafts. But then his horse was shot under him and Batsfords folded (a sad and complicated story), so he joined up with Alan Sutton soon after Tempus was launched.

Alan Sutton is one of the great publishers of our time. He began by publishing books under his own name, but his horse was also shot under him, and having raised a lot of money to expand the firm he gave away too much of the equity. The new proprietors parted company with the eponymous founder of the firm, so Alan Sutton, the man, lost control of Alan Sutton the publishers. Nothing deterred. He set up a new firm called Tempus to specialise in local publishing with a strong American branch, and so Peter Kemmis Betty joined him to launch an archaeology side.

Tempus has been going great guns and is now announcing a major expansion: they have bought up Pitkins, well known for their pictorial guidebooks; Phillimores, the gurus of local history; and greatest triumph of all, he has now bought up Sutton, buying back his original company – and his own name. Tempus has now become one of the big boys and will hopefully get distribution with the big bookshops, which only take books from the major publishers.

With this expansion, Peter feels therefore it is about time to retire and enjoy himself. Editing the Tempus series has been great fun but it is now time to pass on the torch. It is a wonderful job – providing you can read a manuscript quickly and providing you don’t mind going to meetings. Peter would very much like to hand it on to someone sympathetic – preferably, he says, a reader of Current Archaeology (flatterer!) Obviously the choice is not his to make, but if you are interested, give him a bell on 020 8748 0201 or email him at [email protected] and learn the inside story.



This opinion comes from CA issue 209

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