Liber 2011, International Spanish Book Fair

October 11th, 2011 by Almudena_Santalices | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Liber 2011, International Spanish Book Fair
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Last week, Liber, the 29th International Spanish Book Fair took place in Madrid. Three days of exhibition, 443 businesses stands from 21 countries and 12,000 visitors from all over the world validated its status as “the main book business industry platform dedicated to the Spanish language and one of the most important international book gathering”.

An improvement of this year was the introduction of a new section: Liber Digital. Twenty-five specialized firms have participated. Arantxa Mellado, space coordinator, says, “It has been extremely well received by professionals. It has not only met the expectations of the participants, there are, also those who even have confirmed that only on the first day have achieved a return.” Also, David Sanchez, the creator of 24symbols, affirms, “in addition to meeting the expectations, we found that the sector is launching and customers are willing to change”.

A study by the Federation of Spanish Publishers’ Guilds, suggests 75% of Spanish publishers are either selling digital works already, digitising existing content or creating exclusively digital material. It found that by 2012, a quarter of Spain’s 900-plus publishers expect to sell digital versions of more than half their backlist and a third will distribute a higher number of new titles as e-books, principally for tablets and mobile telephones rather than e-readers.

Amazon Spain, launched last month, is one of the first attempts of the shift that is taking place in the publishing industry. The webpage offers books in Spanish, Catalan, Galician and Basque languages. Moreover, we should not forget about Libranda, “a company whose mission is to provide logistic, technical, commercial and, administrative services to publishers, bookshops, enabling them to efficiently manage the digital environment in which they are immersed”.

Even though the digital revolution is starting, it is really slow in the high street. Robert Strokes considers that “sales of e-readers are concentrated mainly in larger stores. In general, the smaller the store the less likely it was to sell either”.

Andres Has thinks that “no matter how many startups there have been and how much potential there is in the market, there is much to be done: not only are there a limited e-books available, those that wish to read them still have very few options for devices on which they can be read”. What Has believes is true,but the Spanish publishing industry is aware of the importance of the change and is on track to become a massive phenomenon.

By Almu Santalices


References: Ifema, Publishing Perspectives, The Independent, The Bookseller (2).

Vicky Sugden, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2011-12

October 10th, 2011 by Victoria_Sugden | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Vicky Sugden, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2011-12
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My decision to stay on at Stirling after completing my degree in English Studies was a great one. I had been seriously considering the MLitt in Publishing Studies from about Christmas last year and I got in touch with Claire Squires about the course and her enthusiasm and inspiration really spurred me on.  I met  with Padmini Ray Murray during the last year of my undergraduate degree and she showed me the publishing projects completed by previous students and told me more about the course, I knew instantly that it was for me. I then applied, got in and never looked back.

I had looked into studying Publishing at a few other places but remaining in Stirling has been a worthwhile decision, not only are loads of my friends still nearby but I also have the familiarity of the university and endless support from the staff.  The course provides a great deal of opportunity and support to continue my professional development through an abundance of networking and literary events, and of course, not forgetting the social ones! Typically with most Arts students, I wanted to keep the close relationship with one of my passions, literature, and Publishing Studies combines my pleasure with professionalism.

It’s only a few weeks into the course, and already everyone is being kept on their toes! I have met some amazing people and I look forward to embracing the year ahead with everybody.

The Road to Becoming An Agent, and Where It Is Heading

October 8th, 2011 by Kate_McNamara | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Road to Becoming An Agent, and Where It Is Heading
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Literary Agent and consultant Maggie McKernan of The McKernan Agency ended up in her position in an interesting fashion. After studying Philosophy and Logic, she got on a train and ended up in Paris. She took it into her head to become a writer, and spent three very hungry weeks with no fixed accommodation before she stumbled into the Shakespeare and Company bookshop, where the owner offered her a bed on in the library above the shop in exchange for work. McKernan took him up on this offer, and spent her days working at the till, reading, and serving a few customers. At night she slept upstairs among rats with writers who boarded there. McKernan watched them come and go, and  slowly began to realize that she did not actually want to write, but work with writers.

The turning point came when a young Sebastian Barry wandered into the store. Speaking to him, she discovered that what she really wanted to do was publish people like him. Determined now to work in publishing, she wrote to sixty publishing houses in London and got a job, which she partly puts down to her looking up the name of a managing director and addressing her letter to him personally. She began working in design and production, as this was the only way in. She never believed that she could work in editing like she wanted, but her views on editors were soon to change.

“None of them were quite as clever as they first seemed, and you could become an editor,” she told us. She worked for a while, then moved houses, set up a literary fiction imprint, and worked more and more with writers, which she loved. Her particular approach was to keep the writers’ interests to the forefront of what she did. “My strength as an editor…”, McKernan said, “was what they call in publishing Author Management.” This entailed working closely with the authors, managing their expectations and helping them to achieve what they wanted to achieve.

Four years ago, she changed tack and became a literary agent as she wanted to be her own boss, as commuting to London was no longer an option for her. This was a good move for her personally, and everything was going quite well. And then along came the recession.

McKernan was undeterred. She began to take on a client list, and now has between twenty and twenty-five writers, which she hopes in time will become fifty.

McKernan doesn’t seem overly spooked by the technological advances in publishing and what these will mean for the literary agent: ““As long as writers are still enabled to write I will be happy, and I may have to do something else, I may have to make my living some other way.”Her attitude to e-books is refreshing: “All that really matters is that people keep writing books and that we keep being able to find books.”  Naturally, McKernan clearly sees the need for the literary agent – they are a way of filtering out unpublishable material so that publishers do not have to employ a whole division solely to read new manuscripts. Surprisingly for a literary agent, she is fully supportive of the idea of self-publishing: ““If you do it yourself, you get all the money…the writer sees the possibility of getting all the money, and why should they not?” However, she does mention that self-publishing authors may want to consider hiring someone to do P.R for them. Unlike some agents, she gives no indication of wanting to be both publisher and agent to her authors, but she does insist that ebooks are an area she would love to work with if she was just starting out.

In spite of this attitude, McKernan realises the publishing industry is changing drastically for everyone:“Challenges and opportunities are almost the same thing…technology has frightened everyone, and agents in particular….Will people still print books? Will they still buy books?” All those in the industry must watch and wait as technology and e-publishing develop further before these questions may be answered with any certainty. Whatever happens, it seems McKernan will take it in her stride and continue to put the author first.

By Kate McNamara

Arundati Dandapani, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2011-12

October 6th, 2011 by Arundati_Dandapani | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Arundati Dandapani, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2011-12
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I hail from India, and hold a bachelor’s degree in English with minors in political science and writing from USA. I have interned in Washington DC, and worked in New Delhi and Mumbai for nearly four years. An MLitt in Publishing Studies seemed like the inevitable next step for someone who is not just interested in long copy, short copy or sales, but has a ghoulish appetite for the book as a commodity. What I love about University of Stirling’s Publishing Studies program are its integrated course modules, hands-on publishing projects, market research experiences, specialized IT workshops as well as the exposure to distinguished speakers and industry insiders. The diverse classroom @stirpublishing offers several opportunities to battle off different viewpoints and attitudes to book technology, media, and the business of publishing across a broad spectrum of cultures. I hope to gain significant work experience in the Publishing World before I open up my own little publishing house one day. In my spare time, I consult at a phone retail bookstore, blog about books and can be tracked in the classroom on Twitter. Other loves include long distance swims and fragrant foods. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn !

Laura Rountree, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2011-2012

October 6th, 2011 by Laura_Rountree | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Laura Rountree, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2011-2012
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Ask any member of my family and one of the first (useful) things they will tell you about me is my love of reading. Fairy tales, crime novels, biographies…the occasional milk carton, the list just keeps going on. And after four years of an English Studies undergraduate degree, it seems that merely reading the books is not enough!

When I first came to Stirling in 2007, the idea of publishing was still a niggling thought that had never really led anywhere before; however, over the next four years, it soon became clear that this was what I wanted to do and even the intimidating statistics that Suzanne Kavanagh shared recently has not put me off.

Coming from both Northern Ireland and the university itself, one would think that the majority of this experience would be familiar to me, when in fact it is merely the backdrop that is recognisable. The course is a brand new experience which appears daunting at first, but that was part of the reason why I decided to stay and do Publishing Studies in Stirling- the challenge. I’m learning something new every day, from both the tutors and my fellow students.

Getting the chance to spread my creative wings and discover abilities I didn’t know I had is just an added bonus!

The 2011 Guardian and Observer Books Power 100

October 6th, 2011 by Helen_Lewis-Mcphee | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The 2011 Guardian and Observer Books Power 100
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Guardian and Observer Books Power 100 2011

When the Guardian and Observer first drew up their list of the publishing Top 50 in 2006, Richard and Judy Book Club creator Amanda Ross hit the top slot. The R&J format, based on Oprah Winfrey’s book club in the US, revolutionised the publishing industry, with their impact well documented across the publishing world. At the time, a title’s success often hung on the recommendation of these two TV celebrities, who spawned such stars as The Lovely Bones, My Sister’s Keeper, and The Cloud Atlas.

All change for the 2011 Power 100 list. Over the last five years, the digital revolution has totally changed the publishing landscape. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, has the dubious honour of being named number one, with Larry Page (Google CEO) and Tim Cook (Apple) also occupying prestigious ranks (3 and 10). JK Rowling is straight in at number two, with the launch of her new Pottermore website due for early 2012. More than a fansite, Pottermore aims to deliver interactive reader experiences, and has, indeed, been shaped and re-designed based on the feedback of Beta users. What really strikes me about this is the way that Rowling has capitalised on the seemingly insatiable appetite of Potter fans worldwide for MORE. More content, more experience, and more involvement in the Potter world.

Which leads me to Number 100. A new entry. One of the most powerful players in the publishing industry to emerge in the last few years. You. No longer is the power monopolised by commissioning editors or even TV personalities. Through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and online forums, it’s the readers who are deciding what’s worth reading, and, even more alarmingly, sharing their opinions with their friends, fans, and followers in a way that’s impossible to control or even predict. Book reviews are no longer confined to the opinions of so-called (and questionably-incentivised) experts, tucked away in specialist columns or publications. We trust the judgement of our peers, not what some retailer tells us we want, and can choose from a seemingly infinite  selection of titles: frontlisters, backlisters, big hitters and hidden gems. We’re no longer satisfied with the one-size-fits-the-target-market method of publishing: we want an individual, tailor-made reading experience. And we want to talk about it. We’ll blog, tweet, rant on forums and tell the world through status updates. We’ll always have something to say.

And we’re not just talking about books. At time of writing the List has 144 associated tweets, 212 Facebook recommendations, and a comment stream that reads like an angry battle-of-the-bibliophiles. It doesn’t matter how much time, research, and discussion went into its compilation, every reader has an opinion, and an avenue through which to voice it. We won’t be told what to read/buy/think, and we’re not afraid to show it.

We’re the children of the digital revolution. And you won’t fool us.

The Changing Face of UK Printing

October 5th, 2011 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Changing Face of UK Printing
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Getting ready to fold...

Martin the Printers is a family run business whose history starts in 1892 and has been dedicated to book publishing since the 1950’s.  They deal with many publishers both large and small, and deal on a global basis.  David Martin gave an enthusiastic talk about the changing nature of UK printing, ranging from the economics of the Euro to environmental awareness.

Since January, the staff at Martins’ have been collectively working for 24 hours a day, 6 days a week.  The demise of the euro has made it cheaper for publishers to use UK based printers.  Costs in the Far East have risen by 50% over the last 18 months, particularly in China and India where a lot of publishers placed their work. Another advantage the UK printing market has over foreign competition is time.  It can take 12 weeks for a book to be printed and shipped back to the UK from overseas.  At Martin the Printers they are now able to complete a print run in 5 days, quite handy when a book is flying off the shelves and more are needed quickly.  This turnaround was really impressive especially when they used to be given 7-8 weeks to print a book.  This means that the UK can now be more competitive and a lot more work is being placed here.

At Martins they have an impressive approach to their Environmental Policy.  By weight they recycle 98% of their waste and reuse products where they can.  They are FSC accredited (Forestry Stewardship Council) and all paper used is approved by them.

Near the end of the talk we were set into groups and given a huge sheet of paper with pages from a book printed on it.  This when folded, becomes one section of a book.  Our task was to fold this paper so the pages were in a consecutive order.  After many false attempts David took pity on us and instructed us how to do it.  Once all sections of a book are together, then the book can be bound.  The spine is glued and then sent to a trimmer to be shingled into neat edges.  At Martins they do four styles of book binding.

I don’t think any of us were quite expecting how interesting paper could be.  This is in no doubt due to David’s own infectious enthusiasm for the topic.  For example when a paperback turns yellow in the sun, it’s because of the poor quality of pulp in the paper.

David left us with a great bit of advice, “Enjoy What You Do,” which he clearly does.

By Aileen-Elizabeth Taylor

Not Just Surviving but Thriving

October 5th, 2011 by Louisa_Preston | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Not Just Surviving but Thriving

Martins the Printers, historical image.

It’s good to know that the remaining printing companies in the UK are not just surviving but thriving in the current landscape of the publishing industry. Our visiting speaker on Thursday 29th October was David Martin of Martins the Printers, who kindly enlightened the MLitt Publishing Studies students, on the print and production aspect of book publishing in the UK and within Martins the Printers company.

Martins the Printers has been doing business since 1892[1]. The business has undergone plenty of change in this time and finds itself operating in a shifting and developing industry with the current advancement in technologies around the e-book, and the new developments of digital printing machinery.

The principles of printing seem to remain unchanged. Martins the Printers operates Litho printing machinery and digital printing. The choice depends on the size of the print run, the size and format of the book, any special binding requirements and paper stock. These factors are weighed up and agreed upon at the end of the day against the bottom line of how much is it going to cost. The result is a constant battle between the design ideal and production costs. Importantly too for the environment the company is fully accredited with the International Environmental Management Standard, and fully recycles 98% of its waste. [2]

David Martin explains how the current global economic circumstances have had an unexpected effect on business for Martins the Printers. As the doom and gloom spreads around the globe of the crashing financial markets, bad news for most of us, Martins the Printers is busier than ever working 24 hours a day 6 days a week. This is due in part to the current struggles of the euro. A UK publisher who would normally have their print run order placed in Italy or Spain are now finding it cheaper to order with a printer like Martins the Printers in the UK. As for competing with printers in Asia and Europe, Martins the Printers competes on the basis of time, rather than cost, where they can turn a job around in roughly five days from receiving the file or disc.  When you compare this to one to two weeks print turnaround plus delivery time for Europe and twelve weeks turn around time for the Far East, it’s not hard to see why Martins the Printers is doing so well. Most of the orders Martins the Printers receive are for newly published books, where the aim of the game is to get the finished printed copies out on the shelves as soon as possible. David Martin has found that for reprints in general, where there is time available, the publisher will go to a company in the Far East.  However in some cases for example, where there is a dramatic underestimate in the original print run, and the publisher needs a reprint made quickly the publisher will turn to a UK company like Martins the Printers.

There is understandably a hint of anxiousness detectable about the impact of the e-book on the printing business. However there is plenty of optimism coming from David Martin about the current state of their business and the outlook for the future. As the class attempts to get to grips with folding large sheets of printed pages in the correct order to form a traditional book section, I can’t help but think how important the presence and object-hood of the book can be to the reader of any age, and that there must, hopefully, always be printed books.

Louisa Preston.

Image credits:

Historical image:

Page folding, David Martin and students: Louisa Preston.



Publishing Scotland’s In-Company Development Project – First Seminar

October 5th, 2011 by Frances_Sessford | Posted in Blog | 1 Comment
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The In-Company Development Programme is the brainchild of Publishing Scotland CEO, Marion Sinclair. It is an ambitious scheme designed to enable publishers based in Scotland to develop and grow their businesses in order to respond to changing consumer trends in markets at home and overseas. Seven publishing companies have been chosen to participate: Acair, Sandstone Press, Freight Books, Saraband, Strident Publishing, Floris Books and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The publishers will have three seminar days where they can view presentations from and meet with industry professionals; and they will also benefit from the services and experience of an industry expert who will work alongside each business, offering advice and input on issues such as publishing strategy, growth strategy, exploiting intellectual property, and financial matters.

On Thursday 29th September, the seven chosen publishers gathered for the first seminar in the company of their mentors, speakers and other guests from the publishing industry. David Pirnie, strategy consultant and programme manager, opened the session with a warm welcome and announced the focus of the first seminar: the business of publishing in the context of researching the market, managing change and seeking investment.

The first speaker was Reeta Davis of Nielsen Bookscan, who gave a master class in market research: what it is, where to get it from, why publishers need it and most importantly, how to make the most of the research you have at your disposal. The presentation included some valuable and detailed information about the current state of the UK market. Accurate, reliable, up-to-date research often has to be paid for; publishers have to ask whether it is worth their while. Spending £1000 on some detailed research which will enable you to better judge your print runs could save the business much more money in the long run.

Martin Redfern, one of the programme mentors, opened the next stage with a brief presentation on the challenges of managing change. In his opinion, small publishers are actually at an advantage when it comes to adapting to change: flatter management structures and simpler operations mean they can move more quickly in response to market needs than the clumsier corporates. This was illustrated in excellent detail by two fantastic case studies, presented by Vivian Marr of OUP and Jenny Todd of Canongate, respectively. The former showed a corporate giant’s struggle to move a large and successful list from print to digital, while the latter addressed the challenges which came to Canongate in the wake of one of their biggest successes: Life of Pi’s winning the Man Booker Prize in 2002. This was a particularly fascinating and illuminating part of the day: it is rare to be privy to the details of a publisher’s operations. Delegates were impressed. The conclusions: make your decisions, communicate them effectively and get people on board – a fractured operation responding to conflicting messages will not cope well with change.

Managing change effectively relies a lot on making a secure base, and finding investment is an important part of this. The only resource most publishers have in limitless quantities is enthusiasm. Donald Boyd, Head of Media at Campbell Dallas gave his advice on investment sources for publishers and, more importantly, assessing the potential risks and benefits involved. He urged delegates to reflect that while doing nothing with their business was an option to be considered, it is also the one to be left behind. However, if you are going to seek funding from an external source, you must be able to live with the consequences. While Donald Boyd pointed out that looking to conventional sources of funding for projects (such as banks) is virtually pointless in today’s climate, several of his existing clients have had some success in seeking funding by crowd-sourcing. This is one way in which publishers might be able to generate new resources in future.

Summary feedback from the attending publishers was extremely positive. While many of the delegates have no formal publishing training they have all learned the hard way about publishing through their trials, mistakes and successes. This session gave them time out to consider their businesses from fresh perspectives; to think about their options for growth and development; and to discuss plans and hopes with industry colleagues. Exactly how these businesses will change and develop is impossible to say, but this is an extremely exciting time not just for them but for Scottish publishing as a whole.

The New 52

October 3rd, 2011 by prm | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The New 52
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This month DC, one of the big two comic companies in the US, have released The New 52. This is a relaunch of 52 titles, now all beginning with a new issue #1. DC’s senior Vice-President has called this “an epic and ambitious initiative that ushers in a new generation of comics.” This means well-known characters have been redesigned, many with new costumes and backstories inevitably leading to mixed reactions from fans.

The New 52 has given the company a chance to encourage new readers who may have been previously daunted by the complex backstories of the DC multiverse.

One of the most interesting debates the launch has sparked on the Internet is how DC may have wasted this opportunity to gain a greater female readership. They have reduced the number of titles with female leads and the new version of Batgirl has resulted in nullifying one of DC’s only disabled characters.

Hopes that DC would make more female-friendly titles have been largely disappointed. The new Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws that has not only failed to interest female readers, but has actively offended many. Complaints have been that characters with great potential have been made into two-dimensional eye-candy. The changes made to the character of Starfire may be one of the worst decisions. The most popular incarnation of the character was in the children’s TV series Teen Titans but rather than taking advantage of its popularity, DC has done more to alienate fans of the show. Michele Lee’s blog did a particularly good job of demonstrating how poor a decision the character change was by interviewing her own 7-year-old daughter, a huge fan of the character.

Now that DC have hired Nielsen to survey readers for the first time, perhaps they will learn from their mistakes but considering how female comic fans have been pushing for better representation within the comic industry, they should not have those mistakes in the first place.

~ Anna Keville