Working at Canongate Books

June 26th, 2013 by Frances_Sessford | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Working at Canongate Books
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Frances Sessford, Teaching Fellow at Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, went to Scottish trade publisher Canongate Books for a week recently to take a look at their inventory management system. At their Notting Hill Gate office in London, Frances joined Inventory Manager, John Seaton, for a couple of days to see how he manages the publisher’s backlist.

Publishers can make most of their profit from the ongoing publication of backlist titles. Thus managing the backlist efficiently is a big responsibility as it impacts on the publisher’s income. Yet not many publishers have staff dedicated to focussing on the backlist alone – often a commissioning editor manages both newly acquired (frontlist) and backlist titles. In reality (especially in trade publishing) most time and effort is concentrated on new titles because these take a lot of time and effort to bring to publication. This in turn can make backlist management a lesser priority, which means the publisher could lose potential valuable revenue.

Over its 40 years in business, Canongate has built up a strong backlist of around 800 titles, from authors such as Alasdair Gray, Alexander McCall Smith and Yann Martel. Advances in digital printing technology enable publishers to keep books in print indefinitely. This is the secret of Canongate’s backlist management success: short run printing. Using digital laser printers instead of conventional web litho press means that as few as a hundred copies of a book can be printed and stored profitably while maintaining quality.

Some books sell and sell for many years while some have a definite shelf life. But even the ones that sell regularly don’t remain in the same state forever. This could be because they need to be revised, or a different edition is required, or they are going to be rejacketed. In their lifetime most books will be brought out in various editions such as hardback, paperback, film tie-in, anniversary, special cover – there are many reasons for a book to be republished.

So how do you know what to print? Is it a case of just waiting until you run out of a title then ordering more? Not quite. John’s first job is to monitor stock levels and sales patterns information which is provided by the distributor and decide whether there is still sales potential in the book in its current edition. If the book is selling well and stock is running low, the appropriate print run will be ordered. If John knows that a new edition is coming through – for example, the paperback edition – then he might leave the current stock of the hardback edition to sell out and be replaced with the paperback. Or if sales of a title are simply diminishing naturally – not every book will sell forever – then John might simply decide to let the stock run down. The book’s digital file can always be printed on demand. Thanks to John’s backlist management skills, Canongate has been able to bring many of its previously out of print titles back into print over the last couple of years, and to publish these profitably.

Frances followed her visit to London by spending the rest of the week at Canongate’s head office in Edinburgh with the Editorial and Production departments. The staff were generous in giving a thorough overview of their production operation including the scheduling and management of print and electronic titles, as well as a really useful insight into how the publisher manages and communicates its title and pricing information to online retailers.

As part of her CPD programme, Frances is planning visits to other publishers in the near future, including Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis, as well as Scottish distributor, Booksource Distribution.

Carnegie-Cameron Taught Postgraduate Bursaries

June 13th, 2013 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Carnegie-Cameron Taught Postgraduate Bursaries
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In addition to the Merit Scholarships for Taught Postgraduate students, the University is also advertising four Carnegie-Cameron Taught Bursaries for 2013-14.

Students of Scottish birth, of Scottish extraction (with at least one parent being born in Scotland), or having been resident in Scotland for a period of at least three years for the purposes of secondary or tertiary education, are eligible to apply for the Carnegie-Cameron Taught Postgraduate Bursary. The Bursary aims to support: ‘taught postgraduate Masters that will enhance students’ employability in their chosen field, develop their specialist skills, or supplement existing ones, thus bettering their career prospects. The Bursaries should not be considered as a stepping stone for further study at PhD level and preference will be given to candidates with a clear career plan outside academia.’ – and hence are very applicable to the MLitt in Publishing Studies. The criteria are based upon a combination of merit, promise and financial need. The bursaries cover tuition fees of up to £3750 per student.

Further details available here. The deadline is 28 June 2013.



AHRC PhD studentship ‘Developing Literary Glasgow’

June 7th, 2013 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on AHRC PhD studentship ‘Developing Literary Glasgow’
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Glasgow Life and The University of Stirling are pleased to invite applications for a three-year Studentship under the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) Scheme, to commence 1 October 2013. The studentship is fully funded by the AHRC (UK/EU rate) and Glasgow Life will provide additional financial support to cover travel and related costs in carrying out research of up to £1,000 a year.

This studentship will be a collaboration between the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication at the University of Stirling and Glasgow Life. The doctoral project will develop a strategy for a reading, writing and publishing city that builds on and develops the existing infrastructure, and showcases its literature for its citizens, and its visitors. The student would be expected to place knowledge exchange and research impact at the heart of the project, enabling Glasgow Life and Glasgow as a city to develop its literary expertise, profile, practice and impact.

The applicant should plan their research project in relation to the Glasgow Life’s existing infrastructure relating to literature and literature development (including Glasgow Libraries, the book festival Aye Write!, and its creative industries policies), as well as the city’s commercial and community-based environment, which is frequently supported by Glasgow Life/Glasgow City Council funding. Areas of research could include (but are not limited to):

  • the history and current profile of Glasgow as a city of writers
  • the history and current profile of Glasgow as a city of publishers
  • the role of literary events and book festivals (including but not limited to Aye Write!) in Glasgow’s literary environment
  • literature, literary heritage and tourism
  • books and literature within the creative industries and wider arts, cultural, and commercial environment of Glasgow
  • the relationship between public-funded, commercial and community-based literature-based organisations and environments
  • books and literature in relationship to schools (including via the Curriculum for Excellence) and libraries

The precise scope and emphases of the work will be shaped by the interests and initiative of the successful application in consultation with the supervisory team. This primarily comprises the academic supervisor, Professor Claire Squires (Professor of Publishing Studies and Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, University of Stirling) and the Glasgow Life supervisor, Karen Cunningham (Head of Libraries and Cultural Venues, and Director of Aye Write!, Glasgow Life). The successful applicant will be expected to divide their time between Glasgow and Stirling.

Applicants must have gained a good undergraduate degree in an appropriate subject and a Master’s degree, or be about to complete an appropriate Masters level qualification – or have other professional experience relevant to the scope of the project.

Eligibility to Apply

In order to apply, you must fulfil both the academic and the residency criteria laid down by the AHRC.

Academic eligibility – you must:

  1. Have applied for and been offered a place to study at the University of Stirling (such an offer will be made to the successful applicant for this studentship);
  2. Hold a relevant postgraduate Masters degree, or be about to complete an appropriate Masters level qualification – or have other professional experience relevant to the scope of the project.

Residency eligibility – you must:

  1. Be a British national normally resident in the UK; or
  2. Be an EU national normally resident in the UK, the EU or Switzerland; or
  3. Have been resident in the UK or EU for the past three years for reasons other than education.

For full details (particularly regarding residency eligibility, which has many conditions and exceptions), please see the AHRC’s Student Funding Guide (pdf).

Further information on the studentship and on the application are available here: GlasgowLifeCDA_fps2 (pdf). Potential applicants are welcome to contact Professor Claire Squires ( informally with any questions they may have.

Deadline for applications: 4pm Wednesday 17 July.

Interviews will be held at Glasgow Life on Wednesday 14 August 2013.


Bloody Scotland 2013 is launched!

June 5th, 2013 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Bloody Scotland 2013 is launched!
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The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication is delighted to be working again this year in partnership with Bloody Scotland and our colleagues in Creative Writing to deliver the 2013 Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Masterclass.

This year’s Masterclass will be held on Friday 13 September 2013, and will feature an enticing array of speakers and workshop leaders for those who want to sharpen their crime writing knives.

Our keynote speaker will be bestselling crime novelist Val McDermid. Val is a Number One bestseller, with over two million copies sold in the UK and over 10 million worldwide. She has written 27 novels, including in 2013 Cross and Burn, the latest in the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series – previously adapted for TV as Wire in the Blood. She will discuss The Craft of Crime Writing.

Workshop sessions will be led by Alex Gray, co-founder of Bloody Scotland and bestselling Scottish crime writer, and Liam Murray Bell, author of So It Is and Lecturer in Creative Writing at Stirling.

There will also be a publisher and agent panel chaired by Claire Squires, Director of our Centre, and featuring literary agent Jenny Brown and publisher at Little, Brown David Shelley.

The day includes lunch and refreshments, and will be held at the Macrobert on the University campus. Tickets are limited, so book fast! If you want more persuading, do take a look at the report of one of the delegates from the 2012 Masterclass.

Full details, including how to book, are available from the Bloody Scotland website.