But Peepal Tree has never been discouraged for too long. Backdam People began what was a serious but quite expensive hobby, bringing out one or two books a year, until a friendly printer sold me an old Rotaprint offset press (it did depend on an elastic band) and with the help of my then teenage son, we began printing (that statement conceals many painful hours of trial and much error) Peepal Tree books in our garage. When the Arts Council gave me a grant, we bought an ear-splitting old folding machine and were really in business. A year or two later we were encouraged to put in a bid to the Arts Council for development funding. (They were evidently impressed by the fact that we actually delivered the books we promised.) I wrote the first business plan of my life (of astonishing naivety I see now, though no one in the Arts Council recognized this).
On the basis of being awarded development funding, I began to try to turn the hobby into a business, and took the risk of turning my FE lecturer’s job into a halftime post.
The business plan was to subsidize the overheads and printing costs of the books by running a parallel printing business, looking for jobs from other small publishers. What happened thereafter is too long and involved and sometimes painful story to tell. But the conclusion is that in time this did indeed become the reality and is how Peepal Tree survives.