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Sunday, June 28, 2009


Ballan publisher in heaven after coup

BALLAN publisher Connor Court had a publishing coup securing Ian Plimer's Heaven and Earth, a book which argues against the science that suggests humans are influencing climate change.

The mining geologist's book is now in its fifth reprint and Professor Plimer has enjoyed the debate it has caused.

The Courier recently traded emails with the man behind Connor Court, Anthony Cappello.

- How did you end up with the publishing rights to Heaven and Earth?

Ian Plimer sent me an email. Knowing the man and his previous publishing successes, I was mad to refuse. At the end of the day, its about sales and Plimer sells. The book made it to number one on Bookdata.

- Connor Court promotes itself as a "publisher dedicated to culture, justice and religion" and has published many books which discuss Christianity and in particular, Catholicism. If you had the opportunity, would you publish a book such as Professor Plimer's 1994 anti-creationist work, Telling Lies for God?

Yes, because the book isn't anti-Christian. I think Plimer challenged the science of the creationists, just like he is challenging the science of the climate warmers. Both are scientific debates. I enjoyed reading Telling lies for God and didn't find it offensive to Christianity or Catholicism.

- Would you ever publish a book which backed efforts to counter human-influenced climate change?

Because of Ian Plimer's Heaven and Earth we were approached by another prominent scientist who also challenges the status-quo on climate change, but more importantly he also challenges the politicisation of science. This book will be our second published book. Both Plimer and Garth Paltridge present to us scientific arguments. We have no more scheduled after this one.

This second book by Professor Paltridge is very important as it will show that Plimer is not alone. I guess the question is why aren't other publishers publishing books that present a different position on climate change? There is plenty of publishable material and as Plimer has demonstrated there is a market for another view. At the moment I have four other manuscripts by other prominent scientists also sceptical about the science of global warming.

As for the Connor Court position on the issue, I would argue that we are environmentalist without being committed to the Green ideology. We strongly believe in reducing waste, pollution, and being self-sufficient. This has been a long standing Catholic position right back to the 1930s when G.K. Chesterton, Hillarie Belloc and Vincent McNabb were preaching for a return to the land for self-sufficiency and strongly against urbanisation. Then there was the work of the National Catholic Rural Movement in Australia which was miles ahead in the care of the environment. Ballarat was one of the nerve centres of this movement.

However, when it comes to the science of climate change a debate is needed and Plimer has started the debate.

We are publishing a book in September on economics by several Swinburne academics. The authors, there are three, all hold the current climate warming line and are working on economic models based on an ETS becoming law. They support an ETS and are quite excited about it.

If reputable scientists come to us with manuscript that holds the climate warming line, we would consider it.

- You choose to have your books printed in Australia although many publishers have books printed overseas, why the more costly option?

We use two Australian printers and we use the local Ballarat printer for the smaller stuff. These three printers are good friends and have been a part of Connor Court from the beginning. It's about friendship, quality and commitment.

Because of this friendship we have flexibility and trust that one would not get, I believe, from a cheaper overseas printer.

- What are the advantages and disadvantages of operating a publishing house in a small town; and why did you choose Ballan?

We are a business that revolves around family life and we moved to Ballan about five years ago and have never looked back. We are trying to grow our own veggies, our trees and our family in a community that is non-urban.

B.A. Santamaria argued all his life for a decentralised Australia, small farms, self-sufficiency, the small business, and for family life to be on the top of the list. It's a philosophy we have adopted, although I suck at self-sufficiency and at the same time long to improve in this area.

Disadvantages, well, not having an Officeworks in Ballan. The Flying Teapot in Ballan not being opened on a Monday as I have to conduct my meetings on a Monday in Bacchus Marsh.

- How was Connor Court established? What was your first book? How many people does the company now employ?

I worked for John Garratt for three years then another publisher for five years. After I left my last publisher I got some research work at Victoria University. I started Connor Court in September 2005. Our first book was the conference papers of a conference which I attended in Chicago on the Italian migrants and the second World War. As many people do not realise several thousand Australians of an Italian background were suspected of being enemy aliens and were interned for the duration of the war. So I published these papers in a book called Enemy Aliens. We then published several Catholic titles, which have been quite successful. In fact, my Catholic titles sell widely in Australia and the world with Theology of the Body Made Simple being translated in several languages worldwide.

We employ several casual staff members, we have a sub-editor in Ballarat, a designer in St Kilda, a sales representative in Brisbane. Brigid, my wife, looks after the accounts and to be honest, keeps the business running smoothly and efficiently.

We have also published two local titles and are hoping to do another local publication in 2010.