By Edward Nawotka
JAKARTA: “These bombings have been very disturbing,” says Mark Hanusz, owner and publisher of Equinox Publishing in Jakarta, Indonesia. “Four years ago, when the Australian Embassy was bombed, it didn’t affect me so much, but this time it has impacted me much more personally. Of the people injured in the Marriott Hotel, I knew four of them personally and was acquainted with the other ten.” Hanusz adds that on a professional level “I don’t see it having a negative impact,” but personally, “it sucks.”
An American who has been living in Jakarta since the late 1990s, Hanusz started Equinox Press on the autumnal solstice in 1999 (hence the company’s name) in order to publish his own book, Kretek: The Culture and Heritage of Indonesia’s Clove Cigarettes. Hanusz secured an introduction for the volume by the late novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer, and then went on to republish a number of the acclaimed writer’s previously banned works. In the last several years, his company has gone on to become the dedicated publisher of English language books in Indonesia, covering subjects ranging from Jakarta’s expat bar culture (Bule Gila by Bartele Santema) to highly serious academic titles, many of which were first published as part of Cornell University Press’ Modern Indonesia Project that started in the 1950s. Equinox publishes approximately two new titles per year as well as dozens of reprints.
One title on the list, Ken Conboy’s The Second Front, details the history of Jemaah Islamiyah, the radical Islamic terror group that has been blamed for a number of attacks in Indonesia, including the 2002 Bali bombings, and is now suspected of orchestrating the recent attacks on the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Hotels.
From the moment the hotel bombings were announced, says Hanusz, sales of The Second Front shot up. “We sold 70 copies in the United States almost immediately, despite the book being from an obscure publisher half-way across the world that nobody knows.”
He credits the sales to Amazon.com, where all of the company’s books are available; the majority of them via a print-on-demand option through Ingram’s Lightning Source. “POD is the only viable option for me to sell books like this in the US and in this instance it means we can react quickly to the spike in demand.” Surprisingly, perhaps, the book is also available as a $9.99 Kindle download, as are many of the company’s works.
Hanusz goes on to further praise Amazon’s technology platform: “What’s amazing about working with Amazon and publishing for the Kindle is that two hours after you send them the file, it’s up and ready for sale,” says Hanusz, “If you have changes, you send them in and it’s corrected in another two hours. It’s really revolutionary.”
“This is an example of what Chris Anderson is talking about in The Long Tail. I’m in Indonesia, which is a niche market, publishing books in English, which is itself a niche in Indonesia. So I’m a niche player within a niche market, and yet can still make a very good profit.”
BROWSE: Equinox Publishing’s online catalog.
READ: The latest news about the bombings from Indonesia’s English-language paper The Jakarta Post.