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John Brown

John Brown in conversation with Fraser Allen

About John Brown


John Brown received an HND in Business Studies from the London College of Printing in 1974. He then worked for a number of book publishing companies before a two year sabbatical in New York, most of which was spent as a Rolls Royce chauffeur.

In 1980 he returned to England and became managing director of Eel Pie Publishing before moving to Virgin in similar role in 1982.

In 1987, with investment from the Virgin Group John established John Brown Publishing and produced Hot Air the inflight magazine for the fledgling Virgin Atlantic Airways and Viz Comic.

He moved from offices in Kensal Rise to a Boathouse in Fulham and expanded the John Brown Publishing consumer titles with Fortean Times and launched Gardens Illustrated a glossy gardening magazine. On the contract side there were more inflight clients and a magazine for Classic FM.

In 1994 John Brown Contract was formed for the expanding portfolio of contract magazines for Debehams, Ikea, and Waitrose.

In 2001 the John Brown Publishing consumer titles were sold to IFG. Two years later John Brown Contract Publishing bought Citrus Publishing. The purchase of the children’s contract publisher Act Two completed the expansion of contract division. The renamed John Brown Citrus Publishing became the publishers of the biggest UK circulating title, the Sky listings magazine.

John Brown sold the contract publishing company to venture capitalists, Bridgepoint in 2004.

Since then John has managed the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, has been chairman of the Wisden Group and launched Bob Books a digital photo book website that allows the user to make hardback books from their digital images.

He is currently Chairman the charity Camara Learning UK, Bob Books, Wild Frontiers, the travel company, the charity Camara Learning UK and Pippa Small Jewellery. He is a non-executive director of Punk Publishing and The Oldie. He is also a trustee of the School of Social Entrepreneurs and co-owner of The Watch House restaurant in St Mawes, Cornwall.


About Fraser Allen

Fraser launched Edinburgh-based content marketing agency White Light in 2001, building a team that has produced award-winning work for clients such as Channel 4, Lloyds Banking Group, Standard Life, Tesco and Maersk. In 2012, he also launched Hot Rum Cow, voted best booze magazine in the world at the 2017 Spirited Awards in New Orleans. His mini empire grew further in 2015 when he acquired World Whisky Day, a global content marketing project that achieved a reach of 54 million people on Twitter and Instagram alone this year.

Yet Fraser began his career long before social media, in the era of manual typewriters and spiked copy. He learnt his trade at William Reed Business Media and Haymarket Media Group in London, plus a year in Istanbul as a newspaper reporter. Before starting White Light, he was also editorial director of the publishing division of Chime Communications plc.

Over the course of his career, Fraser has guested on BBC Radio 5 Live discussing methods for killing moles, hit the pages of The Sun when someone stole his life-sized effigy of Jimmy Hill and had a warrant for his arrest issued by the Turkish Amy. He now lives relatively quietly in the East Lothian countryside with his wife and daughter.