Luxury Publishing Gets a Four-Figure Slant

By Carmen Comment

A few years ago, Taschen made a splash with the Muhammad Ali coffee table book GOAT: Greatest of All Time, which weighed something like 70 pounds and cost anywhere from $3000 – $10,000. The limited edition sold out and was talked up endlessly. So no wonder its editor, Ovais Naqvi, has moved on to start his own company of luxury-minded books for the fabulously rich. The Guardian’s Katie Allen profiles Naqvi and the two-year-old Gloria, which aims to publish one book a year (most recently: a coffee table book about Pele signed by all the members of the 1970 World Cup squad) for no less that 1,000 pounds each.

“You are seeing an enormous growth in wealth in the last decade fuelled by investment banking, high expectations of return fueled by the private equity industry, growth in the real estate market and realisation of that value among wealthy individuals,” says the 41-year-old publisher. “There has been an enormous upsurge of wealth and the knock-on effect of that in luxury goods is obvious.” And so, Naqvi eschews traditional means of distribution, as Gloria sells its books only through a select handful of specialist retailers and also approaches potential customers directly. “You see the same with brands like Gucci and Armani, who will open outlets to own the customer and get the highest-value customer,” Naqvi explains.

He won’t give much away about the finances of his private company other than that “turnover is in seven figures” and the aim is “to end up with a strong double-digit net margin”. And as for the theory that it’s the luxuries that are hit first when the economy cools, the publisher does not see itself as an obvious victim. “£1,800 is different to £2m on an apartment,” Naqvi says. “It’s discretionary but probably less affected in a downturn.”