Arkesis has been providing digital development and consultancy services to publishers since 2009. The company consists principally of Bill Hemsley, who works with regular associates and collaborators.

With wide experience in many publishing sectors – including illustrated co-editions, reference, cartographic, children's, educational, academic and general  trade – and strong backgrounds in both digital and editorial work, we have substantial expertise in new technology, publishing systems, publishing data, the use (and re-use) of content, and product development.

We have a good understanding of publishing finances, from project to company level, so can discuss your needs realistically and constructively.

This website has been kept largely non-technical, but in a nutshell the main tools used are: Adobe CS, LAMP stack, Python, XML, various CMSs (including ProcessWire, WordPress, MediaWiki), Filemaker, LiveCode.

Examples of current and recent projects



Developing a book-discovery app and the associated back end services. Users compare the beginnings of unknown books and select which they prefer before the title is revealed (along with the option to purchase). The app also provides publishers with statistics about the preferences of readers. Developed for Storyjacker and with funding from Innovate UK, the app runs on Android and iOS.

Bean's Trees and Shrubs

International Dendrology Society

W. J. Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles is one of the most important horticultural publications of the last century, but the five volumes have been out of print since the 1970s. The Bean's Trees and Shrubs website revives this important text, and provides a platform for development and expansion. The project required capturing the original text into a content management system and building the site – and this involved some interesting development, such as algorithms for processing botanical nomenclature, and an "accordion" with some unique features for displaying taxonomy.

Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book

Mitchell Beazley (Octopus/Hachette)

A content management system that allows contributors from around the world to update and create entries for this annual publication. Editing and translation for co-editions take place within the system, which can output text for print (InDesign) and digital formats. The highly complex system was built using advanced techniques in Filemaker Pro, thus keeping development costs down compared to a system using open source software.

A similar project for Mitchell Beazley is the Pocket Beer Guide.

Miller's Antiques & Collectables

Miller's (Octopus/Hachette)

Substantial quantities of data were collected for the Miller's Antiques & Collectables website from auction house catalogues. Data was prepared in the UK and then sent to India for bulk processing. Quality control and final editing of data was completed at Arkesis. The project used machine learning to classify and apply semantic metadata to the entries.

Philip's Encyclopedia

Philip's (Octopus/Hachette)

A content management system for this originally single-volume encyclopedia. It gives editors a range of effective tools to help with and track updates, which take place regularly throughout the year. We also provide the editorial work for the updates themselves. The Encyclopedia is published by Oxford Reference Online.

Other projects have included the Atlas of World History and Flags of the World.

World Book Night

The Reading Agency

Machine-learning software to judge the applications to be World Book Night givers – learning from previous years' judgements. Further software then matched the available books against the ranked preferences of givers. We also built a website to gather corrected contact data for distribution points.

Another current machine-learning project for a non-profit organisation involves selecting, based on previous choices, books to appear on the Books from Scotland website.

CAPE Geography Unit 2

Caribbean Educational Publishers

Starting with text and photographs from the author, Arkesis produced this richly illustrated textbook for the Caribbean equivalent of A-level. More than 300 high-quality artworks were commissioned, and a level of design maintained throughout that makes the book stand out from its competitors.

Other print projects for this publisher have included A Photographic Geography of the Caribbean (which involved commissioning dozens of high-quality maps) and Office Administration.



Berlitz/Insight Guides

Books from Scotland


Canopus Publishing

Caribbean Educational Publishers


International Dendrology Society

Macmillan Education

– Hamlyn
– Miller's
– Mitchell Beazley
– Philip's

Pearson Education

The Reading Agency