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Tribute to John Talbot

The wonderful John Talbot passed away on Monday 13th June and his funeral will take place this Friday 22nd July.

John started working with Inpress nine years ago this month, we were desperate for some proper sales coverage in London, he came highly recommended and was happy to start immediately.  I have just been re-reading some of the original correspondence and his email style remained the same from the first to the final emails:

Very to the point.

New line for each sentence.

Always polite.

We met for the first time at London Book Fair before he signed up as our freelance London and SE rep, and then at Kings Cross in August 2013 - that was the first time I was regaled with some of his stories of his time repping in London for the great and the good of British publishing, there were many tales!  He spent a large portion of his career at Pan Macmillan and the latter years as a freelance rep for variety of independent publishers (he gave me some lovely Indian cookery books…). John was always generous with his knowledge and his time and so many people have commented quite rightly on what a gentleman he was.  John did a great job introducing Inpress publishers to the major London Indies and we are forever in his debt for starting us on the successful sales trajectory that has continued to date.

He was not a young man when he joined Inpress in 2013!  It became clear in the last few years that physically John was not as hardy as he had been – it was harder for him to commit to travelling to Newcastle for sales conferences and we were worried about him getting out and about in his rep area.  I tried to talk him in to retirement, but it was clear this was never going to happen.  So we agreed John would continue to work for Inpress in a reduced capacity until his wife Valerie deemed it no longer acceptable (!).  That was where we left it just before lockdown, and he was still meeting customers and selling books up until he had a fall and was taken into hospital in March.

I feel really lucky that we had the opportunity to work with John, gain the benefit of his experience, hear the tales of his working life, and to keep working with him until this year. Reflecting on our conversations, I have remembered what a sharp sense of humour he had alongside his quite quiet (but chatty) presence, we laughed a lot. He will be really missed by all of us at Inpress.  

The funeral will take place on Friday 22nd July – his family have asked for no flowers, they would like any donations to go to Great Ormond Street.

Memories of John from Inpress publishers:

‘He was old school in the best sense of the term: belief in the product (books, all of them) and belief in personal contact as the best selling tool. I guess that’s why he never quite felt able to retire: the lure of the next book and its possibilities is an addiction that afflicts us all. He was, as you say, a very generous person, and engaged with so many things. I’ll remember him as a seller of books and as a storyteller who passed on information, and his long experience, in our conversations.’ Mick, Seren Books

‘John was affectionately respected and will be much missed.’ Sandstone Press

‘What a professional and gracious person’ Jan, Cinnamon Press

‘Booksellers always spoke well of him’ Cherry, Arachne Press

‘John will be much missed, what a wonderful character’ James Benson, rep

‘I was struck by his kindness and genuine interest in what we were all up to; no mean feat given the number of books and publishers he must have had to process as a sales rep. One always felt, talking to John, that you had his total attention.’ Tom, Penned in the Margins

‘I remember him telling me at one of the famous Festival of Publishing dinners that booksellers were starting to recognise my anthologies, which meant a lot to me just a few years into publishing.’ Emma, The Emma Press

'Everytime I was moaning about our catalogue he would always remind me that he used to make the Faber catalogues by hand - cutting and sticking the information onto the page without the luxury of InDesign. That always shut me up! He was always so kind and will be a big miss.'  Rebecca, Inpress

'John was always very patient and had a calm presence that was always good to have in the room. It was a pleasure to work with him.' Emily, Inpress

'John was an absolute legend from publishing back-in-the-day and into the 21st century- I can’t think of anyone else in publishing whose career spanned so many decades and who sold so many books. Completely unique and much missed.' Jane, Inpress

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