Publishing Studies lecturer as quiz show star!

February 28th, 2011 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Studies lecturer as quiz show star!
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Dr Padmini Ray Murray, Lecturer in Publishing Studies in the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, will shortly be appearing on BBC Radio 4 in the new quiz show The Third Degree. The show, hosted by Steve Punt, pits academics against students in a series of rounds including ‘Highbrow and Lowbrow’, specialist subjects, and bell-and-buzzer rounds.

Padmini’s opposite number was one of the undergraduates in English Studies. Found out how well they both did on Monday 7 March at 1.30pm, repeated the following Saturday at 11pm, and also available via BBC iPlayer.

We are Open for Business

February 23rd, 2011 by Karen_Margaret_Raith | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on We are Open for Business
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You can find our livetweets from the event @stirpublishing

On February 21st 2011, Publishing Scotland’s annual conference enticed many industry aficionados.  The event’s tagline was to ‘publish locally, and sell globally,’ and consequently discussions were geared towards international outlook and expansion.  Publishing Scotland chief executive Marion Sinclair urged us to locate our inner cowboy and head to the ‘Wild West.’  The opportunity is there to explore undiscovered territories and unearth potential markets; as such Scottish publishers should reflect, prioritise and cash in on prospective consumers.

The day was jam-packed with mixed metaphors as even key note speaker, Anne MacColl, advised us to be more like Mel Gibson than Rabbie Burns, or rather embrace ‘brave-heartedness’ versus being ‘wee sleekit, cowerin’, timorous beasties.’  She encouraged publishers to ‘embrace innovation’, which is daunting due to our fragile economy, fears over exchange rates and cultural barriers.  Yet, 99.7% of the world’s market is outside of Scotland, and this is too big a piece of pie, to be too polite and cautious to ask:  ‘Pleez Sur, canna hae sum mare?’

To journey overseas, it is crucial to have detailed knowledge of copyright and watertight contracts.  Lynette Owen was one of the resident celebs, to whom I am eternally grateful as her definitive work Selling Rights was my saviour in Padmini’s class.  But alas! Another tycoon stole the show.  Personal favourite was publishing veteran Zander Wedderburn of Fledgling Press whose audacious opinions enticed gasps and giggles.  Sharp as a razor, he maintained that lengthy contracts are time-consuming and convoluted, and criticised Waterstone’s distribution services.  While Wedderburn expertly runs his business on page long contracts for submissions compiled with pencil and paper,  the rest of us must regrettably move on from the ‘Halycon days’ of ‘beer, brandy, books and cigarettes’ and build up an appetite for risk.

However, Wedderburn was not the only one to bully the bookseller.  A certain gent wished to remain nameless as he highlighted the risk of Waterstone’s selling ‘stuff’.  After all, until 1998, John Menzies sold some books, some stationery, some…what were they? Eight tracks?  Whatever it was, they sold some stuff, and ultimately dissolved.  With Waterstone’s growing interest in selling ‘quality-book-related-product,’ perhaps history is repeating itself. As Waterstone’s sell items other than books, in contrast to how supermarkets branched into book retail, perhaps the next point of sale item at the register next to bookmarks and playing cards will be Coco-Pops and caviar…

Steve Bohme from Book Marketing Ltd was surprisingly the most beloved speaker.  Talentedly transforming statistics into a compelling speech, he used tennis analogies to divulge top-secret intelligence:  buoyantly breaking down complex facts into ‘drop shots, net falls and double faults.’  The ‘Dragon’s Den’ approach was presented by Bill Hamilton, who claimed that he will work as a mentor for publishing companies guiding them to growth, greatness and, dare I say, greediness.  CPIs Martin McCall broached the subject of e-books, and while his whole discussion was dense and informative, the proverbial penny dropped when he ascertained that digital shouldn’t merely be an ‘add on.’  Soon publishers will have to factor e-books into their initial strategies.

To sum up: the point is to keep calm – and get on with it.  Shake things up, after all, book and journal publishing in Scotland generates an estimated £343 million.  It isn’t a stagnant industry but a growing one, and the speakers at the conference, while celebrating Scottishness urged us to strategise, and lose a bit of that Scottish modesty.   Remember clichés, but don’t necessarily wear a ‘see you Jimmy hat’ to a meeting with a foreign agent.  You can’t cover a book in haggis, neaps and tatty stains -unless you’re at Waverley Books reaping the financial windfall that is Maw Broon’s Cookbook.  Therefore, take David Pirnie’s recommendation and ’aspire, innovate, invest and grow.’ Scottish publishers are ‘open for business,’ and if you forget all else, remember this – it’s time to ‘raise the bar.’

Karen Raith

Publishing Scotland Conference, 2011: “Publish Locally, Sell Globally”

February 23rd, 2011 by prm | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Scotland Conference, 2011: “Publish Locally, Sell Globally”
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You can find our livetweets from the event @stirpublishing

Chaired by Bob McDevitt of Hachette Scotland and Marion Sinclair, CEO of Publishing Scotland, the Scots publishing fraternity met for their annual conference at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh on Monday 21st February 2011.

The topic of this year’s conference was ‘Publish Locally, Sell Globally’. The keynote address was given by Anne MacColl of Scottish Development International. This organisation exists to promote Scottish companies in international markets and Ms MacColl wasted no time in telling the conference that publishers could, indeed must, think globally. Publishing, she reminded us, has always been an international business and it is to our enormous continuing advantage that there is a large market beyond our borders for the English language. But that doesn’t mean that publishers should not be publishing in translation as well as selling rights. A snap poll of delegates indicated that few of the publishers present were fully exploiting their opportunities overseas. The clear message to conference was that vision and ambition can do a lot in the overseas marketplace with the aid of some good planning and the support of an organisation such as SDI. Without going abroad, Scots publishers are going to be struggling to retain their markets against an increasing number of competitors in the other leisure industries.

Later in the day, Scottish Enterprise’s Bill Hamilton picked up similar issues. Funding and support is there for growing businesses that can predict further significant growth potential. But there seemed to be some dubiety in the audience. The problem is that many small publishers find it difficult to achieve any fast growth without base funding, and as a member of the audience commented: ‘Banks don’t get publishing.’ It is true that the nature of the business, with its upfront costs and slow cycles, makes lenders reluctant to support smaller publishers in any meaningful way. But there are ways around this – Bill later pointed out that there was nothing to stop a group of small publishers coming together to demonstrate the required levels of growth. The Independent Publishers Alliance is an example of such a group, where the might of several small publishers banded together can produce gains in winning more favourable terms with retailers and distributors.

Steve Bohme of Book Marketing Ltd has spoken at the conference for the last three years on key retail market trends, and provides a sneak peek at the latest statistics from the retailers. Unfortunately none of these can be repeated here because the information has not yet been officially released. Suffice to say that retail performance is flat in some areas and quite far down in others. There are few surprises in technology related areas, except that perhaps we don’t after all need Twitter or FaceBook to tell us what to read as much as some people would have us believe. But Steve did manage to cheer up some fairly sobering figures with deft use of tennis analogy. You had to be there.

Prelunch sessions were delivered by Lynette Owen, rights director of Pearson, and Martin McCall of print services company CPI UK. Both addresses were aimed at getting publishers thinking about how to deal with the complexities of handling digital content in their author management and content management systems respectively.

In publishing, every sale counts. Julian Sowa of Nielsen informed delegates of a new book identification system (ISTC) which will link books that have been released over time in different editions and under different names, thus making them more easily traceable and avoiding lost sales.

Introduced by David Pirnie, Publishing Scotland launched its proposed skills development project. The project aims to improve skills, knowledge and working practices for the next generation of Scotland’s publishing managers. It will source expertise from publishers and academics in Scotland, including from from the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication and from around the world to train a group of hand-picked young publishers currently working in Scotland. Suzanne Kavanagh from Skillset followed up Pirnie’s talk with an illuminating and sometimes sobering presentation demonstrating the need for publishers to invest much more heavily in the learning and development of their employees

The conference was well attended by publishers, academics and students from all over Scotland, and the big players stood alongside the small; Saraband, Luath and Lomond mingled with Canongate, Hodder and Hachette. The wider support network from our industry was also out in force, with representatives from CPI, the CLA and the Society of Indexers all visible.

And then we all had a drink to do some more networking and to ponder the central message of the day: Scottish publishers have to get out there. It takes money, planning and confidence but it has to be done. We are in a mature market and we need to find new places to go. The speed and efficiency of communications and the availability of technology makes taking content to new markets more feasible than it has ever been before. But it will also take the courage of our convictions.

Frances Sessford, Teaching Fellow, SCIPC

Kim Scott Walwyn Prize: Emerging female publishing talent required!

February 12th, 2011 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Kim Scott Walwyn Prize: Emerging female publishing talent required!
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The Kim Scott Walwyn Prize, founded in honour and in memory of a Publishing Director at Oxford University Press, has recently announced the 2011 award process.

The Prize seeks to recognise the professional achievements of women in publishing, and in previous years it has been awarded to Lynette Owen, Copyright Director of Pearson, Annette Thomas, CEO of Macmillan, and Kathy Rooney, Managing Director of Bloomsbury Publishing.

This year, the Prize is seeking to award emerging rather than established talent, and has teamed up with the Society of Young Publishers. The full details of the award and the submission process are available here. We’re sure some of our graduates should apply, and the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication supports the Prize’s aim of fostering and recognising emerging talent.