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

Conference and seminar papers from Publishing Studies staff

May 10th, 2010 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Conference and seminar papers from Publishing Studies staff
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Over the summer, staff from the Stirling Centre for International Publishng and Communciation will be speaking at a variety of conferences and seminars. Claire Squires, Director of the Centre, has been invited to speak at the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature Conference, Foundations on Futures, on the theme of diversity and career routes in children’s book publishing. She will also be delivering the Chair in Book and Publishing Studies lecture for and the University of Antwerp in Belgium, with the title ‘Books without Borders: Readers, Writers and Publishers in the Global Literary Marketplace’, a plenary lecture at the University of Manchester Contemporary Literature and its Contexts conference, and a paper on publisher anniversaries at SHARP 2010 in Helsinki. Padmini Ray Murray will be delivering a paper at Publishing Futures in the Global Marketplace conference at Anglia Ruskin University on the topic of poetry publishing in the 21st century.

These public appearances will disseminate some of the research conducted in the Centre.