Rebecca Smart is the Managing Director of the Osprey Group (which is made up by Osprey Publishing, Shire Publications and Angry Robot). In other words, she is the big boss, the captain of the good ship Osprey, the big cheese! Her role is a little too extensive to try and explain here (although a good part of her time is taken up with stopping Joe and I from implementing our halfbaked schemes to take over the world) but you can check out her twitter feed if you would like to find out a bit more about her role http://twitter.com/rebecsmart
I asked Rebecca what her favourite Osprey book was... and she actually cheated a bit, but I certainly wasn't going to tell her off ;-)
"The Duel series is my favourite Osprey endeavour because it\'s a concept which everyone immediately understands and thinks is really cool; this means it was really easy to put together and has been very successful. Everyone from the editors to the sales team, from production to finance, loves the Duel series.
The series began as an idea from our aviation editor, Tony Holmes, under the guise of a concept called Dogfight, in which planes were pitted against one another in order to compare their strengths and weaknesses. Kate Moore, the Osprey Publisher, then developed the idea to encompass land and sea - in her words at the time:
'Dogfight puts you in the seat of a fighter plane during the Pacific campaign, it places you in the tank turret of a Sherman in the deserts of North Africa or behind the gun sights of a panzerfaust amidst the ruins of Stalingrad. This is the history of warfare stripped down to the single key denominator of attacker vs defender. Analyse the strengths and weaknesses of each opponent - their arsenal of weaponry, their tactical knowledge and their performance during their trial by fire. Step onto the battlefield and immerse yourself in the experience of real historic combat. This is the account of the machines of war pitted against each other in a fight to the death and the combatants who operated them.\'
I can\'t remember at what point the series name changed to Duel, but there was discussion about the fact that Dogfight didn\'t work for land and sea and Duel was suggested as a more all-inclusive title.
We had great fun designing the cover concept for the series, giving it a feel of being both technical and \'gaming\'. This was an opportunity for us to evolve our cover design in a new direction. We know that our customers collect our series and don\'t like it when we change covers for a series which is already established, so the launch of a new series is a fantastic time to rethink things and to give our designers free rein.
Here are some of the initial designs we came up with
and here, of course, is the final design.
When we started to talk about the series to bookshops and to our customers on the website the feedback was extremely positive - our US sales agent, Random House, nicknamed the series \'versus\' because of the strong use of the vs. abbreviation on the final cover, and their reps really got behind the books. When the first volumes went on sale we were immediately taken by surprise and had to order reprint after reprint, creating a few headaches for our production and sales people - but it\'s a nice problem to have!
Since we launched in 2007, the series has continued from strength to strength and volume 33 (Panzer IV vs Char B1 bis, France 1940) goes on sale in January.