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Jon Barton
 

On Sunday night I am excited to go back to work on Monday morning – Living Adventurously 11

Jon Barton is the founder of Vertebrate Publishing. It sits at the very heart of British adventure writing and outdoor sports. Jon says that “we publish books to inspire adventure. It’s our rule that the only books we publish are those that we’d want to read or use ourselves. We endeavour to bring you beautiful books that stand the test of time and that you’ll be proud to have on your bookshelf for years to come.”

I asked Jon about the lessons he’s learned from starting a company, the discrepancy between male and female authors in the outdoor world, and his scorn for self-titled ‘Adventurers’ (like me) who spend a lot of time talking about themselves on the internet…

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SHOW NOTES

  • If you enjoy listening to this episode over a cup of coffee and think it might be worth the price, you can buy me a coffee here: www. ko-fi.com/al_humphreys
  • Keep up to date with future episodes (and my other adventures, projects and books) with my free monthly newsletter: alastairhumphreys.com/more/subscribe
  • Say hello on Twitter and Instagram: @al_humphreys
  • Vertebrate Books – website and Twitter
  • Vertebrate Books also have a podcast – Inspiring Adventure
  • “If a book is the sort of thing we’d use ourselves, we’d publish it.”
  • Books we chat about:
  • Tilman books
  • Nan Shepherd
  • Gwen Moffat
  • Waymaking
  • Brown Hares in the Derbyshire Dales
  • Joe Brown
  • Don Whillans
  • Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage
  • We didn’t know the first thing about publishing when we began.
  • I just employ people who are brighter than me and then stuff happens.
  • On Sunday night I am excited to go back to work on Monday morning, whereas my wife dreads it.
  • Just because you have done a good book in one niche doesn’t mean you can leap into a different one.
  • Whenever we go out of our niche we haven’t done very well.
  • The calm after the calm. (Phrase about book writing and launching)
  • When we are putting together we think, “is Hannah [regular customer] going to read this?”
  • Women and men, in general, write about their adventurous experiences in different ways
  • Waymaking: The book would have failed (regardless of sales) if it didn’t change the participation of women in adventure.
  • We get 10x more submissions from men and women. Men are risk-takers – leads to epic stories and also they don’t mind writing a book and getting a rejection.
  • An adventure is just having an experience and how you feel afterwards.
  • I got more from climbing with people who were better than me than trying to be the best myself
  • Done is better than perfect

TRANSCRIPT

Below is the transcription of our conversation. It’s done by AI so is perhaps a wee bit ropey here and there. If these transcripts prove sufficiently useful then I will make the effort to clean then up and make them better. Do let me know if you think it’s worth my time to do that. (Or, better still, do it for me…!). If you’d like to listen as you read along you can do that here:

https://otter.ai/s/ot2psvHsSraJCsG6Jd-dKg

Alastair Humphreys
Thank you very much for putting me into your busy  day. And for making me a cup of tea. And what I love about what you guys do is that the battle you seem to go through to try and give small, niche But important adventure storeys a voice. is that, is that a fair summary of what you’re up to?

Jon Barton
I think I think it started off as an inability to say no. So I just wanted to publish everything. And I think we, we’ve always had the mantra, the if you if we wanted if a book was the sort of thing we would use or read ourselves, we publish it, and then we just ended up pushing load because climbing guidebooks running guidebooks, walking guidebooks just take you to inspiring places.

And so we just to start publishing as much as we could do, and we attracted a lot of a lot of authors who possibly couldn’t get published elsewhere. people hadn’t heard of the adventures of the mountains, and we’re going to climb. So we, yeah, we just wouldn’t publish them, publish them published. And then we start panicking. How many are we going to sell?

Alastair Humphreys
I love that you publish a Tillman’s books. I think a lot of people won’t have heard of him. But Tillman’s books are one of my early introductions into adventure writing the idea that not look at this guy Not only is epic, hardcore, tough, he’s also well read and writes funny, clever book. So why do you start Why do you do nice books I tell them to buy those.

Jon Barton
I mean, one of the strengths of what we’re trying to do is to is to keep things in print, keep books in print, and I think I personally think Tillman is one of our finest ever travel writers. I think as a person, he’s, he’s fascinating. He, he he should have you grew up in colonial Africa. You know, he he did load the first two cents in Africa, met a guy called ship to a young man, he’s, he’s going to the Himalayas he’s doing he did the first ascent of Nanda W, which, not very good at my history, I think was the highest mountain climbed. At that time. He went because he was on Everest. He became back to Europe, fighting the war. He was in Special Forces. He was captured. He was parachuted behind enemy lines, he liberated cities. He, he then, by his own admission, started getting a bit too old for high altitude climbing. So he got himself

a small boat and went looking for islands unexplored islands with unclimbed mountains,

Unknown Speaker
a vocal misty,

Jon Barton
a boat called Miss chief. So he wrote a series of books about his mountains. And then he wrote a series about his his exploring, taken Antarctic Lance and his little boat, which sank. I think his next one sank. And then the guys in his 80s, and he disappears off another expedition, and indeed disappeared in South Atlantic tragic, but just a hero. And I think one of the things here we do is we have to make space, keep books in print. This response is written a whole number of books that, you know, a lot of the old ones out of print, duck skulls, the same loads, mountaineers. So, in all of our publishing, rambling a bit, now, little about publishing, we like to make space. And I think Tillman. Tillman, you know, you’ve got to read a Tillman book. They’re just, they’re just astounding.

Alastair Humphreys
And, and I know from writing books myself and try to pester publishers that publishers get pestered constantly huge amounts of submissions of the famous slush piles of people trying to

Unknown Speaker
get their books. And

Alastair Humphreys
is there any anything in general, you can notice between the younger people doing adventures now versus the the the sort of old classic books that have stood the test of time?

Unknown Speaker
I think

Jon Barton
I think with a lot of stuff, we get sent.

With a lot of books, we get sent, you know, some, some are very good, and some are very interesting. And somehow haven’t really moved on to the sort of books at Tillman and shipped and we’re writing. So some of you can easily sort of say, Look, that’s been written written 17 years ago. I think, I think there are people now, we’re spending a bit more time being trying to be a bit more adventurous looking for new writers. I think we, we’ve done a lot of backless stuff. We’ve done a lot of sort of old mountaineers memoirs, I think going forward, we are we are looking for different takes. And different interesting things and, and looking at different sorts of people to write you know, one of the one of the things we did realise what the dreaded Amazon bestseller lists, the the mountaineering hundred best mountaineering books.

99% of them are written by women, sorry, by men.

None of them are written by, you know, typically when we, when we looked at it two years ago, we thought, Oh, look at this, will all of our submissions were coming in from man. All the books were written by men except possibly one book. And the women chef, his book where he going off his book, and then Bernadette McDonald’s, which would typically be a biography of a man. So, so one, one thing we did, do, we, we did a book called called way making, which was just an anthology of women’s writing.

Alastair Humphreys
That’s my next thing. Way making this I wave. It’s a beautiful book. And actually, one of the things I really like about a lot of your books is that they’re not just, but they’re really nice. They’re beautiful, that you put a lot of work into that way. Marketing is beautiful, but it’s anthology of women and adventure, isn’t it? And, and I think that is important, but also just stands alone, two fantastic books and how was them the process of putting all that together

Unknown Speaker
like? Well, the the, the point of it was, was was, was because

Jon Barton
I was getting a little bit bored of, I was a bit of a loner at school, and I wasn’t very good at sport. Somebody told me hillwalking, I loved it. Somebody told me rock climbing, I love to climb the office, the ladder, and then I went to the Himalayas. And next to them, here’s my book

on it, and it was pretty much you know, one, want to send them North socially, I go after another.

So I’m 50% of the population is women. And you just go out there, and this huge, huge numbers of women running around on the hills and doing stuff. And but they’re not. They weren’t particularly represented in the literature. And I think for us, us to be a sort of a publisher that specialises in adventure books, we have to go and do something. So so we just put a lot of effort into and while the editors Alan Moore, Kamala Barnard

Unknown Speaker
has it too. And

Unknown Speaker
once you start naming people,

Alastair Humphreys
terrible mistakes, name people, because you’re going to get in trouble here. I’ve given you now five seconds for stalling for the name you forgotten.

Jon Barton
Yeah, yeah. Jane, can’t remember first name now,

Alastair Humphreys
but you over a Christmas present. But Helen, who is one of the editors is not only a climber, an umbrella, she’s a poet. And I think that the slant of that on that book was really interesting. So was that a conscious choice to try and make it a mixture of john?

Jon Barton
Yes, we do. We went out. Because we knew we weren’t going to get women and I could be wrong and and possibly not qualified to talk about it. Because we thought we weren’t going to go and get we’re going to talk about the hardest climbs that done and the highest mountain for climbed, we went out. And we we asked them to write, give us poetry and some pros and some names and photography, about what they felt the outdoors. adventures like, possibly not not really didn’t want nature writing, we wanted adventure it. But we didn’t want the message to prove that had an adventure. We just wanted them to say what it was like for them to go trail running or like them to go climbing. And that’s a we just got a lot of contributions. And we got a lot of support. And the book, the book came together, and we went for an international approach. And the book, the book came came together. Is it doing? Well? The book books don’t really well, I think I think those two Yeah, I think I think I mean, we’ve had a lot of support, you know, a lot of people have have championed but which has been great. I think the idea of the book was to get more women writing about adventures. And I think I think the book would have failed if we just published a book sold load and and move back to publishing books about north facing the, I guess, complex in 15 minutes. So I think the important thing was, was for people like ourselves and other publishers to take on more commissions from women who are doing stuff in the outdoors. Because if I go mountain biking now, there’s a lot of women on bikes if I if I go into a fellow race now, there’s a lot more women doing if you go climbing climbing wall. So it’s, you know, why shouldn’t they, you know, be encouraged to write more?

Alastair Humphreys
Yeah, there’s a lot more women in adventure for sure. But as you say, the the Amazon lyst are all men. So we do with your publishers hat on. So I’m asking you this is a book publisher, not as a man for this, but as a publisher? Why are there not more books about adventure by women? From the publishing points of view? In terms of the submissions, you see?

And you and the books you sell? Why the not more adventure books by women?

Jon Barton
Well, I think we’ll get 10 times more submissions from men, we will from women. So

Unknown Speaker
do you know why?

Unknown Speaker
I think i think i think i think men are

Jon Barton
I think one reason that men are risk takers.

Men are very good at risk, taking risks. And I think two things come from that one, they get an epic, storeys, we, you know, we always try to have as a comeback moment was written the book. So I think they, they feel they have those adventure storeys in them. And I think the other thing, part of being risk takers is they don’t mind writing a book and getting a rejection. And I think it’s, I think it’s harder. Well, I won’t say what it’s like for women, so I don’t know. But I think I think that’s it. And I think the thing is, I think a lot of women don’t see that there’s been a huge number of books by women. So they don’t necessarily think, you know, they can do it. Because, you know, they have there isn’t a huge number of successful adventure books. But I think that’s changing. We, you know, we’re certainly seeing a few more submissions, since we’re making and we’re taking them on. So, yeah,

Unknown Speaker
thank you, I think, yeah, I think that was a really good answer.

Alastair Humphreys
So you’ve been going for 15 years now? Yeah. founded 2004. So ish. So that this this chunk of questions I want to ask you about now all related to a theme that I’m quite interested in, in general. So you started this publishing company? And were you an expert qualified to start a publishing company?

Jon Barton
I think we were really 10 years in before the first publishing qualification.

We didn’t know, we didn’t know the first thing about publishing, we learned.

Unknown Speaker
We did not the first thing about publishing.

Jon Barton
We, the very first book came about, because I was doing a little rock climbing and eating a lot of cake. And the two are compatible. So I had to do something to lose some weight. So I started mountain biking. And I noticed that the guidebooks that had didn’t reflect the kind of writing I wanted to do, and they didn’t reflect the kind of writers that I was meeting on the trail. So I thought, well, I’ll just write a book, How hard can it be, we wrote a book, I wrote a book on it, and it was very, very successful, I still going strong, it still is still going strong. And we didn’t do we did things differently to how everybody else was doing guidebooks, or certainly client site and guidance at the time, we put colour photography, and we put young people and we made sure those who there was women in it, we made it twice as expensive as the competitive titles. We have, we were told that was don’t wouldn’t sell a bike out of 10 quid and no hard and we’re told there’s no and we just sold out the first print run in months and, and we carried on doing that we kept with that policy that we go out. And we do, we do do a book based on our own experience in the outdoors. We had a few Harry Potter moments, whereas people centred books that subsequently go into the number one bestsellers in their category, we didn’t publish them because we didn’t understand the market. You know, you know, roses, couple of road cycling books, one very famous series of road cycling books into the hundred clients with a good day. Yeah, thank you. Yeah. Well, they were indeed submitted to us, right. And they’ve gone on sell thousands, hundreds of thousands 10s of

Unknown Speaker
thousands of copies. Was that just a mistake? by you? It wasn’t

Jon Barton
a mistake. I think it was because I didn’t go road cycling, I don’t go road cycling, I didn’t feel qualified to know if the books were any good or not. And, you know, not and I think as a publisher, I didn’t have if we published in the possibly wouldn’t have been successful, because we wouldn’t have known how to do them properly. So I think going back to your question, we weren’t qualified as publishers. But we tried to be true to publishing stuff that we understood. And now we have people over publishing them as the business which makes things easier. Does it? Does it help to have experts?

Unknown Speaker
I, it.

Jon Barton
It definitely helped football for me, I just employ people by to the me. And then and then stuff happens. If if we just employ people to make me look good. We have loaded books with pages missing and spelling mistakes, and they’d be rushed out. So it, it definitely helps. I mean, we were quite a big team. Now, it definitely helps to have people that are experts in their areas.

Alastair Humphreys
So you started essentially, then by finding a something was missing in your life or niche that would something that would help you in your life. Guys, this is the guy but I would like to go on and do it stepped off into the unknown.

Looking back now, would you do it all again? Or was it just a stupid thing that you did?

Jon Barton
I think I think Sunday night, me and my wife have this this thing where I’m excited that it’s Monday morning, I’m going back to work. And she’s in dread, because it’s Sunday night, and she’s she’s got to go back to work. I love what we do. I think it’s exciting. You You just publishing books, I can’t wait to get the book out. I can’t wait. copies are great. The next book is, and I can’t wait to use the books that we’re publishing and read the book through publishing, because I think it’s just I think people are. It’s just so sad when you see so many fast food takeaways and so many iPads, and all the rest of it. And I think if if you can get the child care kit out on his bike, just cycling down the towpath, straightaway, they’re engaged with it. And I think, I think if we can write produce books that get people to do those sort of things. It’s great, because I should be playing dropping books here. But I think the point is, is getting people out.

Alastair Humphreys
Yeah. And you’ve I’ve read, read around about you online, and you say quite a few things often about the positive impact on people’s well being and the importance of getting young people out there and exploring. So I think having that consistent thing of this is what we do and just keep banging away at one thing. Doing it. Well, it’s a good way to be going at it. Yeah, yeah, I will say nine o’clock, Monday mornings, my favourite moment of the week, when I just think so lucky to be doing something I really, really like. And so from starting having no idea what you’re doing. And presuming you made all sorts of mistakes I imagined.

Unknown Speaker
Maybe you didn’t.

Alastair Humphreys
But what what did you learn looking back about that process of taking a leap into the unknown?

Unknown Speaker
I think I think we lost and that

Jon Barton
just because you produce a good book, you can’t just replicate that. You can’t just go into somebody else’s niche. I mean, we haven’t done a cookery book. But you can’t just think right, I’ve done a fantastic mountain biking of the best selling mountain bike in this country’s ever seen. I’m going to do it and same with cookery, because you’re going to die.

Unknown Speaker
I think

Jon Barton
we’ve, we’ve learned that you’ve always got to think of the consumer and even using the word consumers wrong.

Alastair Humphreys
Yes. You surprised that using that word? Yeah. So it’s straight out of my marketing book,

Jon Barton
I think I think you’ve got to, I think if you’re not excited about reading the book yourself, or using or going out and doing one of the activity for the walking guide, if you’re not excited about going out and doing on walking guy, or somebody in the office isn’t saying kind of when’s it better from the printers? Because we’re going to go to Pembroke? And you know, I want to go and do this wall. So seeing the photos on the machines? And then that’s that’s probably wrong to do you need to have that. Love the books? What’s a

Alastair Humphreys
what’s a big mistake that you’ve made in the last 15 years that you can look back on the thing? Actually, that kind of was a disaster. But I’ve learned a lot from that. Do you have any examples?

Jon Barton
I think we’ve learned children books are very competitive.

Unknown Speaker
I think

Unknown Speaker
I think the biggest

Jon Barton
just try to think so. So was the big, the big mistakes.

I think as soon as I think whenever we’ve gone out of our niche of climbing, mountaineering, trail burning mountain biking, I think that’s when the sales haven’t been very good, because we’re competing with, with bigger publishers with big budgets. I think, I think we always presumable could do better than it does. Okay, always presume that because you so excited about the book, and the closer you get to publication, you just get even more excited. Everybody, the world’s gonna have to buy this book. And then it comes out. I think in publishing the call it the calm after the calm. You know, you see, you know, as as an author, you write your book, and then you wait months or years for the publish, to bring it out. And then nothing really happens.

Alastair Humphreys
One of the things I’m really enjoying about being on my bike right now is forgetting to remind me the fact that just recently I’ve published a book, and I’ve been in this sort of by this by this by this kind of mode with not much happening. And I’ve really enjoyed, leave that book behind and go ride my bike for us. I’m very well aware of that. And so the thing is that different niches of books, does it bother you, though, you’re making mountain bike books that sell 10,000 copies? Whereas maybe if you did the great cookbook, you could sell 10 million copies? Shouldn’t you be trying to sell 10 million copies of a cookbook?

Jon Barton
I generally don’t want to feel the world that was stuff. I think there’s plenty of stuff in the world. And I think, I think you can eat, you’ve just got to get your economies, right, and you’ve got to look going into work. And I think when it becomes 10 million copies of a cookbook, it becomes a spreadsheet, and then you you end up just scaling up and then life becomes quite daunting. I think it’s, I think one thing when we when we publish a book, if we’re publishing a mountaineering book, you know, we, we, we get pre orders, you know, and the same people, and we, when we’re putting a book together, we think is how am I going to buy this? And it’s literally when you know, you know, or is is Nick and by? Or is Alex divided? We know those names. And I think it’s, it would be a shame to lose that It’d be a shame if that became Waterstones going to put in a free order for 5000 copies, you know, are we going to spend money on on window displays, you know, across Waterstones top city branches, so it would be a shame to lose in in pursuit of just printing loads of books and also might not work? As you said, Yes.

Alastair Humphreys
One thing I’ve really found in my own life of trying to grow an audience and sell books myself as the author was coming to the realisation that there are X number of people who might be interested in the kind of stuff I do, there are not 100 times that amount. Therefore, I need to just accept and be grateful for finding a niche of people who are sufficient for life to work fine, and not beat myself up that Ainsley Harris sells 1000 times more books, just because I’m in a different niche. And it took me quite a long time to accept that and realise that this is the niche I operated, and that’s fine.

Jon Barton
Yeah, yeah, I think I think that’s, it’s not, you know, it’s not, you’re not going to win the lottery. In publishing, I think if you’re a specialist publisher, you you can’t have a good business model is based on having a best seller. You know, it’s that is literally like winning the lottery. It’s about knowing what you want to do, being realistic about how many people are going to buy that and just and just cracking on and you know, and have friends make friends, you know, and and support each other. We, you know, all of us publishers and, and brands, we’re all in this together, and we’re competing against YouTube and iPad and and all the rest of it. And we we should all work together and support each other

Alastair Humphreys
and it’s not a zero sum thing is that I’ve noticed that that the I try and help other people it doesn’t detract from myself and you know, kind of builds and it makes and it’s just a nice way to live life isn’t Yeah,

Jon Barton
yeah, people aren’t limited to reading one book a year or buying one guy

Alastair Humphreys
and speaking out and massive bestseller smash books. Why did you publish a book about the brown hairs of

Jon Barton
the Derbyshire Dales? Well, in in in the in and I got into trouble. I got into trouble recently for that very book.

Unknown Speaker
I mean, I

Unknown Speaker
should say it’s hairs like rabbits not Yeah, not. Yeah,

Jon Barton
I Well, I drove back from Manchester late last night. And I immediately slowed my speed as I came over the pitch, because I and then and sure enough, I did see a hair crossing the road. So it was a it was a book that was published by Dalglish Wildlife Trust and it was sold out. It was going out of print, and that would have been the end of it. And the author got in touch with and said, don’t suppose you’d like to take the title on and of course, and ask us like, Why Why could we possibly have a book about hairs in in our, in our native Darvish check out print? So we just published it. And and I did get in a little bit of trouble because somebody pitched a book to me. And it was, it was one of those books that was 500. I don’t know what it was 500 amazing things to do in the Peak District. And it was one of those books that you’ll see in gift shops in the district that that just appeals to the tourist market, and it will come and three months later it will disappear and be reminded, and that will be that. And that sort of said no. It’s not really the sort of thing we publish and this and there it all was, it’ll sell more than that, but you did about hairs. And I thought well, that’s not the point. I want to go to itI I get something from going into the Peak District and seeing has, you know, we published a book about it, so other people can see that. And if it sells 10 that’s great if he sells 100 That’s great. I really care.

Alastair Humphreys
Brilliant. I absolutely love it. And also to my trip side around New York so far I’ve seen loads of hairs. Your hand is brilliant. I love seeing her. So I think I’m going to buy one of those. I think it’s really good. And one of the things I’m trying to think about more in my own life is the idea of living adventurously, XI think myself the adventure, but that changes over time. So, what what does living adventurously mean to you these days? And perhaps you can compare that to when you were a self proclaimed pro climber in your in your 20s? How’s living adventurously changed for you? If it hasn’t all?

Jon Barton
Yeah, yeah, you. I mean, I’m a father of a 14 year old son down he is he’s just getting independence. And and now I can see what my poor mother went through when I was sort of 16 and I went off my first big trip to Canada and a team when I was mountaineering in Alaska and sort of 20 when I went to Australia, Tasmania climbing for six months ago, my poor mother god, I’m like panicking now. He’s disappeared. And he’s back into the woods for now.

Unknown Speaker
So,

Jon Barton
I think so. But so obviously, when I was 18, either going to Alaska, just just felt a natural thing to do. And I didn’t, I didn’t in it.

Unknown Speaker
about it. And

Jon Barton
I didn’t say to his adventure, he didn’t find it because that really is just something we did. Another I used to hitch over to the Lake District and you know, we go for a walk and go for climb and go for swimming at all unless it’s called while swimming that we soon for us just be swimming. Yeah, we will be quite quick on the hills. And I’ll see that’s good. Fast packing, not just walking.

Alastair Humphreys
Well, some might say that going camping has become called micro adventure. Yes. I know, the stupid hashtags.

Jon Barton
Yes, yeah. Which is great. And, you know, now, dare I say I’m 50. And I, it’s, I’ll find adventure. You know, we’ve just been on a on a family holiday, which was meant beach holiday. And I can plug my smartphone into some nice QR code. And it takes me in and and borrow a mountain bike, and it takes me 5050 kilometres into the Greek wilderness. And, you know, and I feel I feel as I’m having a proper adventure, you know, two, three hours away from work, you know, or, you know, one of my great loves is is urban urban walks. And, you know, you can just be drop your car for service and go for a walk, walk along the local canal. And you seeing King fishes and you each and two fishermen and one thing another, it’s it’s just having an extended adventure is having an experience, does that

Alastair Humphreys
count? Is that not just a is that not just a pale imitation of going off to Alaska for six months?

Jon Barton
It’s, it’s, it’s different. But I mean, it’s, it’s about it’s about how you feel afterwards. And if if you feel content and relaxed, and you can just sit down watch the telly without pacing the room thinking I wish I was in Alaska, then. You know, that’s great.

Alastair Humphreys
Yeah. And and is that the case? Does it does the walk along the Don looking for Kingfisher scratch the HVD?

Jon Barton
Unfortunately, embarrassingly, does I mean, I don’t think that is

Unknown Speaker
necessarily enforcement. Is it not just a change?

Jon Barton
One of the challenging things of my job is you know, Victor Saunders is is on his way back from K two at the moment and you know, with it with his manuscript, and now have to let you know, make file called in the other day, and he’s just back from truth is bathroom, the similarities back from a traverses of the Matterhorn and, you know, and I’ve been for a walk down the dark. But you know, it does, it does scratch the itch. It’s, it’s getting out there, and just just just, you know, it’s the adventure, just leaving the desk and going to do something doesn’t have to be Alaska. And, as you will know,

Alastair Humphreys
so Well, no, yeah, and I’m so I’m finding this bike trip now. Because this is going to be riding for a month now, which is actually the longest I’ve been on a bike since I spent four years on the bike. And I’m so much of that my old glory days and the Viking coming, flashing back to me now poking around, and I’m really interested in that different feeling of similarities, but perhaps the differences as well, and the changing approach to things and I also find it interesting. So how your, your work side, your creativity, then you went from guidebooks to it took me five years before did your first narrative book revelations?

Unknown Speaker
What can you tell me a bit about that? Having a good idea of a word.

Alastair Humphreys
We’re going to make guidebooks, this is good. And then for that to evolve. Because I The reason I’m asking this is I often talk when I have a pattern of doing things, when I change that feels to me like a weakness, which I think it’s a bit dumb.

Jon Barton
I always thought guidebooks are a little bit disposable. I think you can just do a guidebook and we enjoy doing that. And I think I when I was 13 or 14, somebody told me the most amazing thing ever. And I have got literature I read every book I could get my hands on and those books stayed with me. Nanga Parbat pilgrimage line will mess this book, Joe Brown’s book on millions of book all those books stayed with me, the Tillman books. And it took me five years to have the confidence to feel we could do a piece of mountaineering literature and do something in doing right. I, you know, I really didn’t think we were we would we were going to add to the canon of legit, we had to know what we were doing. And possibly didn’t think that at the time, I just, I just thought it just took me that long to be confident that we would do a good book. Okay. I mean, I always want to mountain in literature. And, you know, when, when we took on our first employee, to specifically help with production of the book, john Scofield, you know, that was pretty much at the interview, I said, Look, john, I want you to help me get mountaineering literature. We can do guidebooks anywhere you can do guide books. I want to do some mountain I want to do some literature on to do some some inspiring can

Unknown Speaker
be felt the need to serve serve your apprenticeship have,

Unknown Speaker
yeah, yeah.

Alastair Humphreys
And you said that, enjoying what you do, and being passionate about what you do is a lot better, being good at what you do. And that that phrase jumped out at me because I

it made me pause to think is that right? Do it is it better to enjoy it and be passionate than to be good at it?

Unknown Speaker
And

Alastair Humphreys
it interests me because I always think that I’m not very good evening, I’m just a bit of a bumbling enthusiast. Chasing the enthusiasm side. So what do you still stand by that random quote I found on the internet.

Jon Barton
I mean, I do tell my son now, you know, if we’re going to do a park run together for something I did

Unknown Speaker
I just say Look, you’re not going to win. You know, that’s a good and pep talk.

Jon Barton
Yeah. You’re not gonna give up now.

You know, not and I think with my climbing, I think with my climbing, I always enjoyed climbing I got more from climbing people are better from better than me. And I got more from climbing myself and achieving things for myself, then I did about being the best or trying to do new route. Okay, my face in the magazines. So, I think if, if, if you try to answer the question, I think if you’re enthusiastic and passionate about publishing a book, and that will come through in the book, and then perhaps become a good year. And will will be a good book. I think if you if

you know, if you want to be technically the best climber or technically the best runner on the track. What does that mean?

You know, I think, I think I think the other thing is, is, you know, dumb is better than perfect.

Alastair Humphreys
Oh, gosh, that’s so true, isn’t it? Yeah. My final question for you also a quote from the internet, of course, which you cannot deny or not, which I love is this. And I’m not a fan of self styled adventures. So up the oxygen while building social media followings and doing motivational talks.

Jon Barton
We can’t believe I said that Alastair?

Alastair Humphreys
Which amuse me because that’s basically my life.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah. So

Alastair Humphreys
what, tell me a bit about

Unknown Speaker
self styled adventures?

Jon Barton
I think well, so. So part of it, it probably comes from ego might you know, so obviously, I as a rock climbing and climbing a friendship. We it’s all about, you know, so ignoring what I said about the last question, it’s all about grade Yeah. So up you know, you definitely you definitely judged on what your heart is climb is. And I always thought I was at a film festival last year and, and a very famous Russian mountain air stream fence fisherman and he came up to me and he said, What’s the hardest you’ve climbed and it and it became a who’d climb the hardest rock climb thing and and all of a sudden, I was a better climate than he was. Because I’d climb climb to harder rock climb greater than eight climbing. Yeah, I’d not find any 8000 metre peaks in winter, you climb Mount Everest.

Indeed, tough to lie about question I have to live with Everest. So

Unknown Speaker
we will. So

Jon Barton
we get a lot of people who have who have essentially trek to Everest base camp or possibly summited Everest and centres MMOs. And we don’t tend to publish them. The lot of people you know, you know, who, who are self starters adventurous and the not really doing anything. Other than going on, on, on holidays and writing about it? And I think I think that’s quite good. And I think he’s, I think he’s a fine line. Alastair, and I think you’re probably your coffee,

Unknown Speaker
or you don’t need that. I don’t need any disclaimer, I’m enjoying this. Yeah.

Jon Barton
You know, when I think I think birds, but do tend to publish books from people who begin who have achieved a certain

thing in what they do.

You know, they’ve done something notable in what they’ve done, rather than just being an experienced, experienced. That sounds good.

Alastair Humphreys
And final question for you then is a five years from now, what’s there? What’s the vision for

Jon Barton
first breath, I’ve always been quite bad, strategically, I probably would have been the best climber how to how to plan rather than just going out climbing every day. I think, I think I’d like to think would be have a much more comprehensive series. You know, so we my business hat on much more comprehensive series of guidebooks. So people could could rely on vertebra to take them to places they want to go. And then be a book, they’ll be a virtual book. Take Take them there. I think I think we’d be letting ourselves down if if we didn’t publish more books by by women and more people who are having adventures in places rather than just taking taking peaks and numbers.

Alastair Humphreys
Okay. Well, thank you very much for giving me your time this morning. And also for putting out to the world many books that I’ve really, really enjoyed in a really important niche.

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