Some of the most collectable books in the world have their genesis in Guildford
PUBLISHED: 11:18 14 June 2015 | UPDATED: 10:13 15 June 2015
(Photos (C) Lawrence Watson)
As a new photo book about Paul Weller is released by Guildford's Genesis Publications, who produce some of the most collectable books in the world, here we catch up with MD, Nick Roylance, to find out more...
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2015
We’ve always been slightly in awe of you guys, producing books for the world’s best-known rock stars! How did it all start?
We are very honoured! The publishing house started in 1974 when my late father Brian Roylance, the company’s founder, created a facsimile limited edition of The Log of H.M.S. Bounty. It’s been a 40-year journey from William Bligh to The Beatles and beyond!
In this age of the internet, do you think that people value quality print products all the more?
Our authors certainly choose Genesis to create books that readers will treasure. However, Facebook, Twitter and our website, genesis-publications.com, are the perfect way for our collectors to check in with Genesis to see what’s happening next.
The books don’t come cheap; what is it that sets them apart?
Traditional crafts, like fine printing and binding, take time and labour. It’s also great to be creative with new materials and techniques. Paul Weller’s new book, Into Tomorrow, is a good example of combining the two. It’s bound in leather, housed in Perspex and contains a rare 10” record.
By offering a book like this direct to readers through the website, we pass on the saving to them. My father’s vision was to create a community shared by authors and readers, and this is what we try to do. Readers come from all walks of life, and we try to price our books accessibly.
Who has been your favourite star to work with?
It wouldn’t be possible to pick a favourite author. Every project is unique, and each author brings their own approach and ideas to the table. However, some standout moments have included when Jimmy Page decided to tell his life story in photographs, and the first time Sir Jackie Stewart showed us his Formula One scrapbooks. I’ve recently enjoyed watching Ronnie Wood create new drawings to illustrate his Rock & Roll Diary, unwrapping signed prints sent from Bob Dylan’s studio, and hearing Paul Weller recount the story of his career.
Surrey is well-known for its rock royalty – what do you think it is about the area that appeals?
I think it’s to do with being in the Surrey countryside and seeing the seasons changing. The realisation of our place within nature inspires art of all kinds, so this must be the reason, mustn’t it? This, and the advantage of being a short drive from the odd London party or two!
And, of course, Paul Weller himself was born and brought up in Woking. Tell us a bit more about his new book…
Into Tomorrow is Paul Weller’s visual chronicle of his 22-year solo career. Annotated with his own text captions, Weller is retracing his steps in 800 mostly unseen images, now being shared by friend and photographer, Lawrence Watson. Their book is published in a limited edition of only 2,000 copies, and Paul and Lawrence are signing each numbered copy.
Weller’s third solo album, Stanley Road, was named after the street where he grew up. How much of a presence does Surrey have in the book?
There are some fantastic photos taken around Guildford in the early 1990s. There are also numerous images showing Paul Weller at work in his Ripley recording studio and at his house near Woking.
Even today, Weller maintains strong links with our county – did his affection for the area come across in the making of the book?
Well, in actual fact, his favourite photo in the book was shot in Surrey. He writes in the caption: “The pic for the Modern Classics Vol. 1 album is possibly my favourite shot of Lawrence’s, the colours and filters he used. It was shot in a field across from my old house in Woking.”
Based in Surrey yourselves, what is it you like most about being in Guildford?
My sister and the company’s co-owner Catherine and I grew up in Surrey, so it holds a lot of fond memories. It’s lovely when our customers come and visit us from all over the world. We have a gallery and reading rooms here in Guildford, which anyone can visit by appointment.
Finally, any particular releases we should be looking out for this year?
We’re excited to be working on Ronnie Wood’s book: How Can It Be? A Rock and Roll Diary. You can register your interest on our website to be first to hear updates about this new release. Paul Weller’s Into Tomorrow is launching this spring, and you can pre-order at WellerBook.com. We also have signed art print series with Yoko Ono and Bob Dylan, which are available now.
• Into Tomorrow by Paul Weller with photos by Lawrence Watson is a signed, limited edition book of 2,000 copies. Priced at £325, it is available to order from WellerBook.com. Tel: 01483 540970. For more on Genesis Publications, visit their website at genesis-publications.com
And a few more Surrey rock tales
• In the four years that John Lennon lived in Weybridge from 1964, The Beatles cemented their status as the world’s biggest band.
• The Manfreds’ Paul Jones on Clapton, Cranleigh and countryside
• Ringo Starr is a keen photographer and has a house in leafy Cranleigh.
• The Faces’ Kenney Jones owns Hurtwood Park polo club in Ewhurst and singer Mick Hucknall lives by Burhill Golf Course in Walton-on-Thames.
• Status Quo's Francis Rossi is happy living the quiet life in Purley's Webb Estate.
• Discover life down The Farm with Genesis' Mike Rutherford.
• Recording studios: the now closed Strawberry South studio in Dorking was opened by 10ccs Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart, in 1976, and is said to be where parts of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder’s Ebony and Ivory were recorded.
• Ginger dreadlocked Surrey songsmith Newton Faulkner once worked at Fanny’s Farm Shop near Redhill.