I wanted Croydon to have its own publishing house – so I founded it


By - Friday 27th June, 2014

Serena Alam, founder of CronxBooks, shares her vision for her project


Made in Croydon – the new local imprint in town.
Image author’s own.

I want to publish books about Croydon. The idea of a publishing company crystallised in my mind around February 2013, (probably) inspired by the books I’d seen in the Clocktower shop, and I decided it wouldn’t hurt to get other people’s opinions about it. Of course, there was always a fear in my mind that if I shared the idea too early, someone with more funding than I might get there first, so that made me a little tentative about discussing my plan in the early stages.

Now – how would having its own publishing house benefit Croydon? One way of answering that is by reversing the question, and asking why on earth doesn’t Croydon have one already? Croydon is a dynamic business and cultural centre with a great future, and were it a city in its own right, would be among the ten largest in the UK outside London. Like a major tech initiative, music festivals or print and online journalism, we are a large enough community to support a publishing house, and having one located here and concentrating on life in our part of the world will make us more audible and strengthen our sense of identity.

In the past I’ve worked on both print and e-books, in both a production and an editorial capacity, so my professional background in the field gives me confidence, the practical know-how to go ahead and some extremely helpful publishing industry contacts. Initially I ran my idea past local friends (who were very supportive) and also friends in the industry (who also liked the idea) then began to brainstorm ideas for suitable names for the publishing house. But I soon ruled out anything with the name “Croydon” in it after an internet search showed there were a few around already.

The name of the Bronx has become synonymous with tough urban living

Cronx, though, seemed modern and relevant, so an obvious next choice was CronxBooks. The term “Cronx” is so new that a google search about its origins comes up with nothing, but it seems very likely to be based on the Bronx, northernmost of the five boroughs of New York City, which contains pockets of poverty and deprivation (along with more well-to-do areas) and which was the scene, in the late 1960s and early ’70s, of a wave of looting and arson which have made it synonymous with tough urban living. Sadly, I know that’s definitely how too many people think of Croydon, so take it head on and use our notoriety, was my instinct. Cronxbooks seemed quite a punchy name too, which I liked.

The main CronxBooks imprints (divisions) will be: Crocus (which many people will already have guessed comes from the Anglo-Saxon for “Croydon” –Croindene, or “crocus valley”), CronxBooks History, CronxBooks Music, CronxBooks Sport and CronxBooks Retail. The Crocus imprint is to be the main focus.

I’ve already been contacted by keen potential authors

I’ve now started commissioning titles and I am working on a book of my own, about John Ruskin, a figure whom a lot of the Croydon population hold in high regard. I also studied at King’s College London where Ruskin studied, so it certainly feels very apt for me to be writing a book about him, although I would welcome other manuscript submissions about Ruskin from all enthusiasts, regardless of their academic background.

While I am keen to commission my own titles, I will accept unsolicited manuscripts and will no doubt work with the author of any manuscript prior to publication. I have already been contacted by keen potential authors around books that I am interested in publishing, which is obviously very promising.

I like the idea of building a CronxBooks brand and feel that a social media presence is important. I’ve set up a Twitter account @cronxbks and a Facebook page. A Twitter presence is important because publishing industry discussions often take place on Twitter. The website will hopefully be updated regularly once books start getting published.

So – over to you, the readers of the Croydon Citizen. Are there any aspiring authors out there looking to publish works about our borough, or any new voices from our borough looking to be heard? If you’re writing about Croydon and want to discuss a project – feel free to email me at .

Serena Alam

Serena Alam

Hi Royal Marsden (Sutton), what the fuck did you do to my mother (Before I started attending her hospital appointments with her), you bunch of cunts?! :-O

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  • Anne Giles

    What an excellent idea.

    • Serena Alam

      Thanks, Anne. I’m still trying to get this ‘off the ground’, if you know anyone that might interested/available to help, or just generally has any suggestions – please do let me know! :)

      • Anne Giles

        Will do.

        • Serena Alam

          Thanks. Very helpful.

          *Serena Alam*

  • http://idioplatform.com/ Jonny Rose

    Serena,

    I’m a big fan of your work and was (and remain!) very excited about this undertaking.

    This is exactly the kind of ‘big-thinking’ Croydon needs and I trust you execute on the vision well :)

    • Serena Alam

      Very flattered that you’re such a big fan of my work, Jonny. Thank you!

  • Sean Creighton

    As someone who is involved in small scale publishing – History & Social Action Publications – good luck.

    • Serena Alam

      Thanks, Sean.

  • Croydon Radio

    Brilliant idea and we wish you all the best. We’d be happy to invite you on to CR at to talk about it too. Let us know. :)

    • Serena Alam

      Hi Croydon Radio. The idea came out of desperation to continue working on books,… but not be stuck at Clapham Junction for at least an hour, waiting to find out when the next train to East Croydon would be. (I’m still a bit of a lightweight when it comes to tolerating commuting problems, sadly.)

  • Andrew Dickinson

    Well done Serena. You put your ideas in to action and have achieved.Thank you for adding to the mix of Croydon life.

  • Andy Ellis

    This is great to see – hope it goes well.