BY THE BOOKS: Keeping her father's vision alive is paramount for Randle, photographed in her corner office.
Positioned at the help of an eminent book publishing empire for the past seven-plus years — a powerful dynastic brand that has been entrusted in her care — Christine Randle, Managing Director of Ian Randle Publishers, defines her role as one that simply allows her to contribute in some meaningful ay to an increasingly evolving industry, while upholding tradition.
"My aim is not to leave an Ian Randle legacy but to continue the work that Ian Randle started, which is to bring great books to people throughout the Caribbean," she explains, seated behind her desk (piled high with manuscripts) at the company's Kingston premises, a stone's throw from the National Stadium. "It can be a tough job, but it feels rewarding when we get the books into the hands of the people, and the work is appreciated."
With a well-deserved reputation for first-rate academic texts and a diverse assortment of general interest publications spanning a wide range of disciplines, Ian Randle Publishers long emerged as one of this hemisphere's foremost dealers in the written word. It's a legacy Christine Randle has vowed to protect and enhance.
"We're perhaps the most recognized publishing house in the region, and I think that has a lot to do with our visibility," she points out. "And that in itself is the result o the work we have put in. I mean, we have literally pounded the pavement. And everybody from book-sellers to writers to editors know people from Ian Randle personally. We keep our visibility high."
In hindsight, it's been quite a journey for the house her father built more than three decades ago, churning out textbooks and a selection of general interest reads. With time, the scope widened to embrace new publishing trends and the benefits of new technology. To day, the company has more or less established its very own niche market. "We are academic publishers, so we publish at the tertiary level primarily," Christine Randle notes. "And what has happened is a lot of our books end up on the CAPE syllabus, so we've actually started to develop more books to meet student needs."
As Ian Randle Publishers moves into a deepening digital age, which can only mean more e-books, they continue to set themselves apart by keenly focussing on that core objective that has made them so successful in the first place.
"Celebrating Caribbean culture. That basically encapsulates what we do here," says Randle, who, for the record, believes book publishing in Jamaica lacks the requisite (read: adequate) government support. "It's part of our creative industries as a country, but I feels that generally publishing is not given the degree of attention that it deserves. If you look at fashion, music and film, these are the areas that get most of the attention. We tend to forget about our writers."
Even so, not a day goes by that Christine Randle (now in her mid-40s), supremely busy as she is, doesn't welcome the opportunity to immerse herself in the world of writers and what they bring to the page. After all, someone has to give writers their due. "The way I look at it," she confides, "I'm fortunate to be doing what I never thought I would love doing."