Iceland – country of fire, ice, and books.

January 28th, 2013 by Kristin Funk | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Iceland – country of fire, ice, and books.
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Not only does Iceland have the most stunning landscape, its literary culture is truly fascinating as well. Kristján Jónasson, head of the Association of Icelandic Book Publishers, once said “Iceland is an island far up North, it is hard to get away – except through reading and writing”. Literature seems to indeed be a passion on the island in the North Atlantic. 93 percent of the population read at least one book a year, 40 percent read more than five. Even though only 340,000 people live in the European country, approximately 2.5 million books are sold annually. In recent years, Iceland has been struggling with a severe financial crisis. However, book sales have not suffered.

Crime novels, especially those of Icelandic and Scandinavian authors, are among the favourites of Icelandic readers. The Christmas season is the most beneficial time for book sales. Giving books as a Christmas present has been a tradition in Iceland since the 1950s when import articles were rare. Today, nearly every Icelander will find a book under the tree come Christmas Eve.

The most famous Icelandic literature are the over 600 years old Sagas of Icelanders. Written in the 13th and 14th century, the sagas tell stories of survival, honour and love. To this day, the authors of the sagas, and how much the stories represent the truth, remain a mystery. The sagas are part of the UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme, and they are still a presence in the mind of Icelandic people. One can find the names of the saga heroes in product names, and some of the old saga phrases are still being used in today’s Icelandic language.

The Nobel laureate in literature, Halldór Laxness has a very special place among the Icelandic citizens. The house that he resided in until his death in 1998 is a museum now, and a very popular destination for excursions. Another greatly interesting museum is the Þórbergur Center. Its exhibition is dedicated to the author Þórbergur Þórðarson (1888–1974). One side of the building is shaped as a row of two-metre-high book spines – making it a piece of striking architecture.

No other country on earth has as many authors as Iceland percentage-wise. The rise of the internet encouraged the Icelandic passion for writing even further – nearly every Icelander has their own blog today. In times of great uncertainty in many other parts of the world, Iceland seems to be an example of a great literary culture that cannot be disturbed by technology or economical difficulties.

– Kristin Funk

Pan Liu, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2012-2013

January 24th, 2013 by Pan Liu | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Pan Liu, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2012-2013
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I chose publishing studies for my post-graduate study because I really love books! Besides, I’m interested in collecting interesting stories and to find good writers. In China, I majored in Packaging Engineering.  There are a lot of gifted writers, they should be noticed by the public and  their outstanding books should be shared with the people around the whole world, not only in my home country. Also, I think digital publishing is very interesting. In China, students work very hard and they got a lot of books to read. So, their schoolbag is very heavy. But I think they could get relaxed in the future because of e-books.

The field of publishing is constantly changing and many new and advanced things will appear like electronic books. It’s interesting and a motivation for me to keep going on to satisfy the people’s need. In the following days in University of Stirling, I will focus on the main courses through continuous reading and writing. Further, I will explore some relevant areas in publishing studies which could help me and broaden my horizon in the long run.

Lastly, University of Stirling is a leading institute in the field of publishing among the European universities. It provides the students with wide range of readings, advanced facilities and of course, excellent and experienced teachers. I really enjoy studying in Stirling.

Ellen Cheng, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2011-12

January 23rd, 2013 by SCIPC | Posted in Alumni | Comments Off on Ellen Cheng, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2011-12

Ellen at the London Book Fair 2012

Choosing to be a part of the University of Stirling must be the greatest decision in my entire life. I attended the MLitt Publishing Studies programme in 2011/2012.

Before I joined the big family, I was a commissioning editor working in Taiwan. By thinking of getting more experience of e-books and rights licensing, I made my mind up to apply to the programme. The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication provides rich training courses from editing, marketing and distribution to train students familiar with the whole publishing supply chain. In addition, having the chance to attend the London Book Fair in April is fantastic. I even found an opportunity to have a summer internship in Chicken House, a professional YA fiction publisher.

Now I work as foreign rights specialist at Suncolor Publishing Group, one of the Top 5 publishing enterprises within Taiwan. My job is to manage all the intellectual properties and scout potential trading titles to import or export. Communicating and negotiating are the most important skills within rights selling. There are some interesting highlights in my work like traveling to the main book fairs, meeting various publishing partners and different cultural experiences. Furthermore, I have another two alumni working in the same company. I just cannot stop loving my job. Thanks to the University and all the tutors and lecturers.


Paula Morris Lecture – How the Novelist Sees the World…

January 23rd, 2013 by tsarchdeacon | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Paula Morris Lecture – How the Novelist Sees the World…
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… With great big sweeping Venn diagrams to connect the myriad of people and organisations that contribute to the life-cycle of a novel. With detailed characterisations and in-depth analyses of the interplay between each Venn bubble, with a structured flow and a bit of conflict to keep it all moving nicely along. Novelists see the world (of publishing) as a fascinating place that might be much akin to the worlds of their books.

There are four kinds of people in the world, none of whom a novelist is particularly enamoured with:

  • Gatekeepers. Agents, publishers, booksellers, the media, festivals, and prizes.
  • Rivals. Other writers. (Note: ‘rivals’ and ‘friends’ are by no means mutually exclusive. Or so they would have us believe.)
  • Necessary Evils. The public, online reviewers, book clubs, festival audiences, etc.
  • Enemies. Yourself. Money. The world at large.

And yet novelists have far more to worry about than these frustrating gnats that surround them. Worries such as publicity, for one, which is an increasingly important aspect of the novelist’s life. It is no longer an isolated art; writers need to be actively engaged with the world through social media and self-promotion. They’re constantly bombarded with people asking questions or favours. They get e-mails by the giga-load.

Then there’s the insecurity. Writers are a ‘whirlwind of insecurity’. Will their next book be their last? Will it be a failure? It’s a life of unstable income and of second jobs – fixing, ghost writing, journalism, anything to keep writing.

It takes a hell of a lot more than talent to get published. It takes persistence and discipline, luck, ego (a.k.a. ‘drive’) and often a very thick skin. It takes a healthy aversion to reading too many reviews and the ability to ignore the call of the market (or risk becoming a hack). A good pen and a few nice turns isn’t enough anymore.

So all this begs the question… why? Why would anyone choose to take on such a career?

‘It’s not a career, it’s a vocation’, Morris said, ‘you should be doing it because you would be miserable doing anything else’.

See more from Paula Morris at her website.

-Talis S Archdeacon

Mariclaire White, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2012-2013

January 23rd, 2013 by Mariclaire White | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Mariclaire White, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2012-2013
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I began considering a career in Publishing while studying MA English Literature and Film Studies at the University of Dundee. During summer break between 3rd and 4th year, I became a marketing intern for a comedy company during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The job was frantic, consuming and required a lot of walking around rainy Edinburgh promoting a show alongside hundreds of competitors. While this may sound like hell to a lot of people, the reward of seeing a member of public you had encouraged at the show, was completely worth it. Once University began again, I sought a way to combine a lifelong interest in literature with my newfound passion for marketing, leading me to the logical choice of working within the publishing industry.

Whilst researching postgraduate degrees, I was immediately attracted to the MLitt in Publishing Studies at Stirling due to its reputation as a Centre for International Publishing and Communication as well as its excellent links to the publishing industry. In order to finally make up my mind about applying, I spoke to a former student who could not recommend the course enough and I have not been disappointed. I am so excited to progress with my studies and put the skills I learn into practice in the real world! You can find out how my studies are going on twitter!

Qinyu Sun, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2012-2013

January 22nd, 2013 by Qinyu Sun | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Qinyu Sun, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2012-2013
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Hello, you can call me Safina, and  now I am studying on the MLitt in Publishing Studies course in the University of the Stirling.  I am from Shanghai which is located in the east of China. When I was an university student, I always invited my friends to visit the bookshops together and had a cup of tea. Now I have missed that style of life. Anyone who wants to do it with me will make me feel so excited

“Knowledge is the power.” It’s the familiar sentence for us to know during my life of studies in China. So that is one of the reason for me to further my studies here.

My undergraduate degree in Exhibition management and planning was completed in my hometown.  During that time, I took a lot of courses, such as marketing, public relation, economic, accounting, design and so on. I have to do some part time jobs with advertisement companies and some exhibitions. I like creation and design. Fashion is what I purchase now. So you can image that I want to be an editor in the fashion magazine. Design, planning and writing can make me become an editor in a fashion magazine’s company. I wish my dream will come true.

Now I have been here for several months, I have learnt a lot in the publishing major. If you want to more about my daily life, you can come to my facebook or Sina Weibo

Amanda Losonsky, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2012-2013

January 21st, 2013 by Amanda Losonsky | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Amanda Losonsky, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2012-2013

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” -George R. R. Martin.

If there’s one thing in my life that I’ve always had a passion for, it’s words. It’s literature, writing, books, tales and stories. And I’m eager to live far more than just a thousand lives.

Hi, I’m Amanda Losonsky, and I’m working towards my MLitt in Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling. I am a native of the United States, born and raised in New Jersey, and earned my Bachelor’s Degree in English with a concentration in Writing from King’s College. During that time, I interned at Northeast Editing, a small publishing company in Northeast Pennsylvania, in addition to working as an Editor at my college’s writing center and taking shifts at my local Barnes and Noble. When the time came for me to pursue my postgraduate degree, I knew that Scotland would be my destination, as I’ve always admired the country. Stirling was the perfect blend of gorgeous country scenery, historic landmarks, and upbeat city life, so the University of Stirling soared above all other universities in comparison. When I looked further into the Publishing Studies program, I discovered that despite the university’s young age, the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication already had an outstanding reputation. The more I learned about the program, the deeper I fell in love, and the choice really made itself.

I can say without a doubt in mind that the University of Stirling was the path I was meant to take. I’m on Twitter and I can also be found on LinkedIn.

Visiting Speaker – Ann Steiner

January 21st, 2013 by Nicola Marr | Posted in Blog | 1 Comment
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The visiting speaker series continued with an insightful talk from Ann Steiner, researcher and lecturer in Literature and Publishing Studies at Lund University, Sweden, who gave an academic’s perspective on recent developments in international publishing.

Ann began by explaining that the publishing industry as a whole is very culturally specific, with different countries experiencing vastly varying market structures and stability. Using Sweden as a case study, we learned about ways to promote literature within the limits of population and language. Sweden, a fairly large country with a relatively low population, has around 300 major publishing houses all operating on an international level, yet only 5 of them producing work specifically for the Swedish market.

Ann then went on to talk about different integration models of publishing in Sweden, using the example of The Bonnier Conglomerate – a large family run media corporation who dominate the market and control all aspects of the publishing chain from printing to retail stores. This monopolization leaves very little room for competition, with smaller publishers struggling for visibility in the mainstream market. This can be seen as detrimental to the Swedish publishing industry as a whole, and Ann was part of a commission who raised concerns about this exploitation to the Swedish government.

An interesting point raised by Ann was the difference in reading habits between Swedish readers and UK readers – most notably the fact that many Swedish people are not familiar with electronic reading devices. The e-book industry in the UK is an ever-expanding market, a trend many of us would expect to see continuing worldwide. However as Ann pointed out, although e-books are available in Sweden the market hasn’t reacted as favourably as in other parts of the world, which is surprising considering the high internet saturation in Sweden. Ann suggests one reason for this unusual cultural difference is a problem which is recognized at national level – that if the e-book market flourishes it may cause a decline in the number of Swedish-language books being read, as it is expected the majority of e-books accessed will be English titles. Ann predicts that the market in this area will eventually mature and if one retailer chooses to promote a particular device, Sweden may see an increase in e-book sales.

The next topic of discussion focused on the way Swedish consumers buys books – or don’t, as the case may be. Current figures show 35% of all books are currently bought in bookstores, with 22% of books being purchased online. However, Ann discussed a worrying trend in the demise of bookstores in small communities. This has been caused in part by the de-regulation of book pricing in Sweden in the 1970’s, which has since seen the price of books plummet, meaning bookstores struggle to make a profit. This low pricing structure has altered the consumer perception on the value of books in Sweden, meaning people now expect to buy books at very low prices. The closure of bookstores throughout the country is expected to have a knock-on effect on the industry as a whole, with recent figures already showing a worrying decline in the reading ability of young boys in Sweden.

Next, Ann spoke about Swedish literature within the context of the rest of the world. Historically, Sweden was an import country with over half of all fiction and non-fiction literature coming from other countries. Although mainly translated, Sweden also has a fairly thriving foreign language market. Over recent years, the success of Swedish crime fiction has seen a massive upturn in the export market, particularly after the international success of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Ann also touched briefly on the ways in which Swedish literature is perceived in other countries, pointing out that particularly in the German market, Swedish books are often portrayed as stereotypically cold and harsh, with covers that would not sell in the Swedish market.  Ann finished the talk by pointing out the importance of country specific publishing,  stating that books are very much intertwined with culture and can be deeply important for a national sense of being.

During a brief Question and Answer session afterwards, students got the chance to learn more about the publishing course run by Ann at the University of Lund and the similarities in the teaching content. Ann also spoke briefly about her predictions for the Swedish market in the future – most notably that the Swedish crime fiction genre will eventually die out and hopefully make way for new trends in Swedish literature.

An interesting, enlightening and at times surprising insight into the Swedish market and how it differs from the UK market, I think the whole class will agree we learned a lot during this session. Thanks, Ann!

-Nicola Marr

Yuemeng (Lillian) Feng, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2011-12

January 21st, 2013 by Yuemeng_Feng | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Yuemeng (Lillian) Feng, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2011-12

My name is Yuemeng Feng. Lillian is my English name.

The major of my undergraduate study is packaging engineering, specialize in packaging printing. After dealing with numbers and experiments for years, I want to have a chance to know what an arts student’s life is like. A teacher of mine graduated from International Publishing Management of Stirling. He speaks very highly of publishing projects here. But the thing attracted me most was a word of program introduction saying: the MLitt program is not only for the professionals of publishing, but also fit for those who want to enter the publishing world for the first time. That’s would be perfect for someone like me who have no prior knowledge of publishing.

I think University of Stirling is really a good choice for me. Teachers are very knowledgeable and kind. And my classmates are very friendly.  I learned a lot about the publishing world. Together with my classmates, I researched different types of bookshops and publishing companies in the UK, learned some basic skills of editing and commissioning editing, knew a lot about the e-book and copyright and acquired much knowledge of project design. In a word I have never regretted traveling 16 hours to study here.

Jingyun Wu, MSc in International Publishing Management 2012-13

January 20th, 2013 by Jingyun Wu | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Jingyun Wu, MSc in International Publishing Management 2012-13

With an excellent academic record, I was admitted into Beijing Institute of Graphic Communication, majoring in Printing Engineering. Its high teaching quality and rich research atmosphere has created many opportunities for my personal growth and academic studies in 2008. By learning compulsory modules, such as Introduction to Printing, Image Processing and Plate-Making Technology, Introduction to Printing Device, Principle of Printing, Post-press Technology, TV Directing and Editing, Fine Arts, Photography and Original Preparation, etc, I have established a solid academic foundation. With my painstaking efforts, I ranked the top 2 in my class. As a good return for my outstanding performance, I was honorable awarded the Three Goods Student, the Third-class Scholarship, the Second-class Scholarship, the First-class Scholarship respectively. And I also obtained the ISO9000 Quality Management System Internal Auditor Qualification Certificate. Meanwhile thanks to my teachers, they not only taught my professional knowledge, but also cultivated my independent thinking and problem solving ability.

The education I received in our university benefited me a lot. I developed adequate proficiency in theoretical knowledge and practical skills. The study of English language has developed proficiency in listening, speaking, writing, reading and translation which will allow me to actively participate in further higher education in the U.K. In my spare time, I also read lots of books including Publishing Regulations, Toward Media, British and American Media Collection, Fundamentals of Communication, Journalism and Communication and so on. Additionally, I also served as Secretary of the Youth League Branch Committee in my class, and I have done lots of work for my classmates.

In order to put theoretical knowledge into practice and accumulated related working experience to enrich myself, in summer 2011, it was my great honor to have the opportunity to do an internship in Jiangxi Academic Publishing House for about two months. As intern editor, I was in charge of editing and proofreading. During this period, I have a certain understanding of publishing industry. Directed by experienced colleagues, I gained not only extra-curriculum theoretical knowledge but also some valuable hands-on experience. Meanwhile I widened my professional prospective, mastered interpersonal skills and well developed teamwork spirit.

Then I applied for the University of Stirling and have became a postgraduate student in International Publishing Mangement. I have the opportunity to widen and deepen my understanding and recognition in this domain, I appreciate it very much. I find that this program has a reputation for academic excellence. The course arrangement and teaching mode of my school attracts me deeply. After graduation from this university, I hope to come back and work as editor, and do preparation for my long term aim to have my own publishing house in the future.