digital publishing

LSE Review Festival of Books: ‘The Future of Publishing in a Digital Age’

February 17th, 2013 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on LSE Review Festival of Books: ‘The Future of Publishing in a Digital Age’
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Our Director, Prof Claire Squires, will be speaking on Saturday 2 March at the LSE Review of Books Space for Thought Literary Festival.

Her panel is entitled ‘The Future of Publishing in a Digital Age’. Other speakers on the panel are author and indie publisher Ben Galley and Oxford University Press’s Damon Zucca. The event will be chaired by Jonathan Derbyshire of the New Statesman.

The talk links to Claire Squires’s AHRC-funded research project, The Book Unbound, which has explored digital publishing.

Tickets for the event are available here.

Forward Thinking – Bookseller article by Centre Staff

December 19th, 2012 by Claire Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Forward Thinking – Bookseller article by Centre Staff
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As part of the AHRC Digital Transformations Research and Development project The Book Unbound: Disruption and Disintermediation in the Digital Age, Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication staff Professor Claire Squires and Dr Padmini Ray Murray have published this week December 2012, pp.22-25) in the UK publishing trade journal The Bookseller an article based on their research findings, examining how independents are staying ahead in digital publishing. As Squires and Ray Murray begin:

‘With E-Books, tablets and social networks, the digital future of publishing seems less the stuff of science fiction and more an uncomfortable reality. But instead of consigning traditional publishing models to a black hole, Will Atkinson, Faber & Faber’s sales and marketing director, ag many publishers are trying to operate in a “duplicate universe”, retaining traditional print-driven models of publishing alongside newer ones. In the turn to digital, traditional job roles are “creaking”, says Atkinson, and the linear production process is being undermined – but most publishers are yet to arrive at a 360 approach towards commissioning, production, marketing, sales and distribution.’

Focusing on case studies of five independents, the article discusses the quick thinking and agility of publishers in the digital arena. The publishers taking part in the study are And Other Stories, Blasted Heath, Canongate, Faber and Guardian Books.

More on the Book Unbound project is available via the project website.

“Small publishers and start-ups have lots of opportunities right now!”

April 27th, 2012 by Kate_McNamara | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on “Small publishers and start-ups have lots of opportunities right now!”
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The Publishing Studies Visiting Speaker series went out on a high with a visit from Sara Hunt of Saraband. The perfect blend of information, optimism and advice, this was a fitting end to our course. At a time when much of the publishing industry are wringing their hands and quaking at digital advancements and social media marketing, Sara Hunt is smiling; “Be creative! Have fun!”. And Saraband certainly are. Rather than panicking in the face of change, Saraband have embraced social media and the many hours of work which it demands. “When you get it right,” Sara says, “it’s absolutely time well spent.”

Saraband began experimenting with social media in 2010 in order to promote Making Shore, the debut novel by Sara Allerton. Using a variety of sites they reached out to their customers and to bookgroups to get people talking about the book, and this was a great success. “Go out and do it,” Sara advises.“You can replicate it for all of your subsequent titles, and then it really will be worth while.”

However, it’s not enough to just use social media. You need to set yourself apart from all the multitudes of people and companies who are quickly catching on. Saraband do just that. Between their backwards rendition of Auld Lang Syne for Burns night and their April Fool’s day  blog announcement of whisper audiobooks to lull you to sleep (“the number of people who fell for it just because we used a standard format!”) not only do they not balk at the idea of social media, but they use it inventively, and with a sense of humour.

“If we can do it, you can too!” It’s a far cry from our furrowed brows and worried looks, which have accompanied the final days of our course, and an awful lot more appealing.

As the final minutes of the session ticked away and we began to realise with nervous apprehension that this was our last class, Sara delivered her closing words:

“This is a really brilliant time to be completely can-do…everything boils down to ingenuity, your ideas, and your commitment to working hard to follow things through.”

Saraband’s future is certainly bright, and thanks to the optimism of this final talk, we are more optimistic about the brightness of our own.

– Kate McNamara

Publishing Scotland Conference 2012

April 2nd, 2012 by Sara_Gardiner | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Scotland Conference 2012
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I have never been to a conference before and I would definitely go to one again.

The day began with an introduction from Bob McDevitt and Marion Sinclair explaining how, as publishers, we should be able to adapt to the new digital world by having more direct contact with customers and physical bookstores. The aim of the publisher is not to challenge the age of the author but to challenge the price point of e-books and to get more people reading.

Alan Clements, Director of Content for STV reiterated Marion’s speech, acknowledging that the media industry should have more focus on content and accountability to their customers. So what does this mean for media and culture when each person may be looking at three screens in one sitting? Alan stated that working with technology and not against it is the key to controlling IP and sustaining the media industry we work in. He then candidly discussed the lack of communication between the publishing industry and TV, believing that if both industries work together on the adaptations of new books, it would give Scotland a place on the map.

Next to speak was Steve Bohme, Research Director from BML. He showed the conference, through the analogy of weddings, how the publishing industry is coping with the downward trend in print books for the third year running. Steve questioned how the role of the designer will change with the popularity of the e-book, and how the e-book effect will change the way in which it affects the publishing industries sales.

Discussing social media and marketing, Jon Reed, Social Media Consultant spoke of the effects social media marketing has on the selling of a product and exposure of a company (follow him on Twitter @reedmedia). Jon Reed is the founder of Publishing Talk, giving hints and tips on the best ways to market your company and/or product. He discussed how the social media buzz should revolve around the product and build interest in the niche area; to support social media, companies should still continue to e-mail their customers.

Jon also said that authors should be trained in using social media to promote their novels and to update their own profiles and if training cannot be given, guidelines will then become useful to the author. Included in the author questionnaires, should be the question regarding the authors current social media use, in order to increase author visibility. Through social media networks, content should be made valuable by giving away free information on the author/novel or company. The ultimate goal as a publisher is to add value to a novel while also supporting their authors.

Author Nicola Morgan then spoke about author/publisher relationships along with the (lack of, in her case) communication between the two. Nicola made the point of authors being the last to hear about changes to their work; what Nicola insisted on in a business relationship was honesty. Her response to being dropped by her publishing company was to consider self publishing, however, as she discovered during the self publishing process, this then eats away at the time the author has left to write new material.

The speakers at the conference were all so passionate about their area of work within the publishing industry, and also believe that the industry will be able to adapt to new media in the future, but finding the right ideas for this is the key.  The Publishing Scotland conference showcased many intelligent, passionate and enthusiastic people with many opposing ideas.

Publishing Scotland Annual Conference 2012

March 4th, 2012 by Victoria_Sugden | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Scotland Annual Conference 2012
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This year the Publishing Scotland Annual Conference took place at Edinburgh’s Royal College of Physicians on Monday 27 February. Following registration and a number of freebies, an assortment of publishing professionals and students congregated in the main auditorium (at a somewhat vertiginous height!) ready to catch the pearls of wisdom thrown their way.

After a warm welcome from the Chair and Chief Executive of Publishing Scotland, Bob McDevitt and Marion Sinclair, the conference was in motion. The most engaging speeches, for me, were delivered in the morning session. The key note speech came from Alan Clements, Director of Content at STV on ‘Future-Gazing-what’s in store for media and culture in the next few years.’ Clements pushed that in this day and age there is an issue of content, rather than the means of distribution in broadcasting and publishing. After all, “content is king” Clements later declared. Ultimately, Clements argued that publishing and TV should be more engaged than they already are. He also stated that Scotland has become the “other” in UK terms, thus publishers and TV should work together to create new Scottish-centric material.

Steve Bohme, Research Director of Book Marketing Ltd gave an insightful talk on key retail market trends. His decision to use a weddings metaphor in his slides was very effective but left some of us disheartened with the lack of real cake during refreshments…

Then came the presentation that was a firm favourite of mine, Social Media Consultant, Jon Reed speaking about ‘Publishing Direct-reaching readers online using social media.’ Social media is certainly proving to be one of the principle ways to reach consumers as Reed presented the staggering facts of there being two billion people online, 850 million on Facebook and approximately 500 million Twitter users worldwide! Reed was very insightful and revealed numerous ways to reap the benefits of social media marketing that many social media fiends would not even think of!

The afternoon sessions were less digitally focused but nonetheless enlightening with talks ranging from metadata (from Nielsen Bookscan) to Scottish library partnerships. At the end of proceedings Publishing Scotland kindly set up a Q&A session for us students, which gave us a valuable 45 minutes to grill those already in the industry.

My thanks go to Publishing Scotland for a fascinating and well-organised day.

– Vicky Sugden

Image by Sandy Young Photography

AHRC Digital Transformations Project: The Book Unbound

February 15th, 2012 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on AHRC Digital Transformations Project: The Book Unbound
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 We’ve just heard that the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication has been awarded a grant from the AHRC in its Digital Transformations Research Development call.

Our project, ‘The Book Unbound: Disruption and Disintermediation in the Digital Age’, will be led by the Centre’s Director, Professor Claire Squires, with Dr Padmini Ray Murray (Lecturer in Publishing Studies) and Dr Paula Morris (Lecturer in Creative Writing) as Co-Investigators. The staff team will be completed by Scott Russell, as an External Consultant. We’ll also be working with the Electric Bookshop in order to present some of our findings, and there will also be opportunities for collaborations between creative writing and publishing students.

The project will examine changing business models in the digital publishing environment and their impact on the communications circuit and notions of authority, authorship, audiences and access. It will do this both via a series of case studies, and an experimental mode (live publishing – watch this space!).

We’ll have a new website up with full details of the project soon, but if you’d like any information about it in the meantime, please get in touch via our Contact page.

Adrian Searle and Freight Books

October 23rd, 2011 by Paola_Gonella | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Adrian Searle and Freight Books
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Our visiting speaker on Thursday 13th October was Adrian Searle, director of Freight Design, an award-winning Scottish creative design and brand development agency based in Glasgow city centre. Founded ten years ago, the company quickly established itself as one of Scotland’s leading design and marketing consultancies.

Adrian gave a very interesting talk about the joys and difficulties of setting up his own publishing company. He explained how he got involved in the business through his design company. In 2001, they decided they would do a self-commissioned project every year and their first undertaking, The Hope that Kills Us, combined two of Adrian’s favourite things, Scottish literature and football. The book, sponsored by Arts&Business Scotland and picked by The Guardian as one of the top 10 best football fictions, brings together eight specially commissioned stories from some of Scotland’s best contemporary writers, with each story examining the participants, experience and emotion that feed the nation’s obsession with football.

Following the critical acclaim received for The Hope that Kills Us, the company decided to embark on another self-commissioned project entitled The Knuckle-End, which featured two pocket-sized hardbacks joined by a fabric hinge, the first one dedicated to a selection of short stories and poems by recent graduates from the Creative Writing Master at University of Glasgow as well as award-winning writers, and the second one dedicated to images and photographs on themes inspired by the title.

A couple of other projects of which Adrian seemed particularly proud are Dougie’s War, a graphic novel by acclaimed novelist and biographer Rodge Glass and artist Dave Turbitt about the legacy of the war in the Middle East and the effects of PTSD on returning veterans, and Gutter, an award-winning, high quality, printed journal for fiction and poetry from writers born or living in Scotland. As Adrian told us, the magazine also proved to be a good way for Freight to make friends with a lot of good writers, which then helped them setting up their own publishing company, Freight Books.

Adrian described the company as small, independent and with a specific interest in both middlebrow commercial and literary fiction. They usually publish 4 or 5 books a year, which range from stunning debuts of writers that may have been published already in Gutter to forgotten classics like All the Little Animals, Walker Hamilton’s un-classifiable first novel that will be republished in June 2012. Their first book, published last September, is Killing the Messenger, the second novel from Christopher Wallace, who won the 1988 Saltire First Book of the Year Award for The Pied Piper’s Poison.

Adrian also announced that The Hope that Kills Us, Dougie’s War and Gutter will be available soon in digital form, thanks to a collaboration with Faber Factory, an initiative that Adrian described as ‘absolutely brilliant’, especially for independent publishers that cannot invest in additional resources for text digitisation.

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.

Independent Publishing Events

May 30th, 2011 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Independent Publishing Events
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The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, in association with the Scottish Universities Insight Institute, is running a series of seminars over the summer in Glasgow on the topic of Independent Publishing: Making and Preserving Culture in a Global Literary Marketplace. The seminars will feature a mix of publishers and others in the book trade, from Scotland and across Europe, and also of academics and other commentators on the industry. The three seminars will be:

 9-10 June Digital Technologies and Publishing (keynote speaker: Chris Meade, Director of the Institute for the Future of the Book on ‘The Amplified Author in the Unlibrary’)

23-24 June Globalisation and Independent Publishing (keynote speaker: Professor Simon Gikandi, Princeton University on ‘Scenes of Reading in the Global Literary Marketplace: Some Postcolonial Reflections)

 22-23 August Cultural Policy (keynote speaker: André Schiffrin, publisher and author of The Business of Books and Words and Money; in association with Publishing Scotland and the Edinburgh International Book Festival

All events are free, but registration is required. You can register direct for the keynote lectures by clicking on the following links: Chris Meade (9 June); Simon Gikandi (23 June). If you would like to attend the seminars in full, please send an email to publishing [@] and we will send you a registration link. More details are available from the Programme website.

Centre Director comments on ebooks and digital publishing

April 8th, 2011 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Centre Director comments on ebooks and digital publishing
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Much media attention this week is focused on the world of books and publishing, in the run-up to the London Book Fair. The Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, Claire Squires, has been speaking to various newspapers and broadcast media about the rise and rise of digital publishing.

She was cited in the Sunday Mail on rumours that J K Rowling might finally be allowing Harry Potter ebooks, commenting that “It is akin to the Beatles allowing their music to be launched on iTunes – it really is that important. JK Rowling has been very protective of her novels, and rightly so, but this signals a real sea change in her attitudes.”

BBC Business Scotland is devoting this Sunday’s programme to publishing and bookselling, again interviewing Claire on current trends, challenges and opportunities of the 21st century digital environment.