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Edinburgh

Bookshop Crawl, or the Power of Twitter

October 19th, 2017 by Ewa Balcerzyk | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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I must admit that when we were first told that interacting on Twitter was essential to the development of our professional life in the publishing industry, there was a part of me that considered pursuing an immediate career change. I was never the one to thrive on social media, even my Facebook account felt like too much at times. However, seeing as I didn’t really have much choice (one of our assignments on the course involves live tweeting), I decided to give it a go. A couple of days later I found myself joining a spontaneous bookshop crawl organized by complete strangers…and all because of Twitter.

It was through following the Twitter account of Edinburgh’s City of Literature that I found out about 7 October being Bookshop Day. Then, using the traditional Google search I tried to look for related events in Edinburgh. Imagine my disappointment when I found none. Reluctantly, I turned towards Twitter. Imagine my surprise when in seconds I had a potential outing organized. All it took was one search and two hashtags.

As it turned out, fellow publishers-to-be from Edinburgh Napier University were going to celebrate Bookshop Day in the best possible way, that is with a Bookshop Crawl. A brilliant concept that transforms the infamous British tradition of pub crawls into a nerdy day of rummaging through piles of books. Lea, my friend from the Stirling course, and I both loved the idea – it was an opportunity not only to indulge our predilection for buying new books, but also a great way to explore Edinburgh for the first time.

To begin with, we met the Napier students at the Edinburgh Bookshop. Definitely a good starting point: we arrived just in time to see the bookshop owner Marie put on a bright orange “Books are my Bag” T-shirt (BAMB is a nationwide campaign promoting reading and bookshops). She was clearly responsible for giving the whole bookshop a very friendly air – running to and fro, attending to individual customers with lots of enthusiasm and a great sense of humour. A quick browse through the shelves revealed that the bookshop had a very good selection of intriguing and thought-provoking fiction and non-fiction. The owners have put it this way: “If ‘Radio 4’ was a bookshop, it would be like this…”

The next bookshop we visited – Edinburgh Books in West Port – despite a close name resemblance, had a very different aura to it. It is one of the city’s most recognizable second-hand and antiquarian bookshops. The first thing you notice inside is an imposing head of a water buffalo hanging on the wall, a very characteristic hallmark. There is an incredible range of books on offer, but that’s not all: downstairs in the basement you can even purchase sheet music.

 

Clarence the water buffalo

West Port is also home to another one of Edinburgh’s second-hand bookshops that we visited as part of the bookshop crawl – Armchair Books. The abundance of books offered by Armchair was astonishing. Volumes were stacked to the ceiling and shelves squeezed into every possible nook. Also, the place was surprisingly busy, swarming with book lovers, who could not resist spending their Saturday among piles of antiquarian jewels.

 

The joy of finding old-time favoutites

 

 

Antiquarian jewels on display at Armchair Books

 

From Armchair Books we bookshop crawled to Transreal, a haven for science-fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. Not being one myself, I decided to skip it and conclude the day in Blackwell’s bookshop. As an aspiring academic publisher I was astonished by the sheer size of the scholarly section. An enormous part of the shop was reserved for serious studies ranging from philosophy to marine biology.

All in all, the day was a great success. The event was certainly low-key, but that’s what made it special – from the bottomless sea of meaningless Twitter interactions we managed to fish out something sincere and worthwhile. At the end of the day, sitting on the steps of the Scott Monument – apparently the largest monument to a writer in the world – I thought to myself: Edinburgh really is a city of literature.

SYP Scotland: Editorial: First Draft to Finished Book #SYPedit

November 1st, 2016 by evangelia_kyriazi-perri | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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On Thursday 27th October, the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) Scotland organised the first editorial event of the year, which took place in Edinburgh at the David Hume Tower. If you are considering a career in the publishing industry, editorial is one of the top choices on the list, functioning as the fundamental department of a publishing company.

The panel of the event, chaired by Rosie Howie, Publishing Manager of Bright Red, consisted of three highly experienced people in editorial departments: Jo Dingley of Canongate Books, the freelancer editor Camilla Rockwood and Robbie Guillory of Freight Books. All speakers shared their experiences on publishing and the reasons why they chose editorial in particular.

Most of the speakers started as editorial assistants, making their way up as editors. All of them emphasized the fact that editorial is a matter of choice and discovery, with Jo and Camilla highlighting the special moment when they get the finished book on their hands, as a reward of working in editorial and one of the top reasons they chose it as a career path.

Communicating with the author and establishing a close relationship with him is an essential part of working in editorial. Apart from the strong engagement with the author, commissioning editors tend to work directly with the author’s agent as well. One of the key parts of editorial, after author care, is to read carefully the manuscripts and share your opinion with the editorials colleagues at weekly meetings, as Jo points out.

People who work in editorial spend a large amount of time considering submissions and familiarising with the house style. Editors and proofreaders should be careful “not to get involved with the content of the manuscript when editing one”, Camilla warns. A useful advice was the fact that editors should be careful with judgement and suggestions as some authors get quite sensitive and over-protective of their manuscripts. This is the reason why editors should approach authors carefully when answering to queries, encouraging face to face meetings with them.

Robbie emphasized that editorial is not “exam marking”, it is a service: “editing is not about eliminating errors; you’ve got to be really curious about things and ideas”. This is one of the hard parts of the job, along with the fact that editors have to manage authors’ expectations, as the target is to keep the cost as low as possible. Jo advised that it is important for editors to be friendly and give reasons to potential rejections of manuscripts: “You should give feedback to rejections and explain what you are looking for at the moment, by giving more information”.

For students who are particularly interested in editorial, all the speakers advised to “put yourself out there” and find internships and work placements for experience. Furthermore, as Camilla suggested, even working in retailing as a bookseller, offers you experience and shows that you are interested in the publishing industry. Familiarising yourself with software such as InDesign, Photoshop and Microsoft Excel, in addition of being aware of new technology and tools is essential. One of the most important advice was also being active on social media and knowing what’s current in the industry. Although it’s a highly competitive industry, all the panel encouraged people who pursue a career in editorial “not to give up”, as trying other areas of publishing is a great way to end up in the department they desire.

By Elina Kyriazi-Perri

Visiting speaker: Peggy Hughes, City of Literature

November 17th, 2012 by Aija | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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The delightful Peggy Hughes amused the Publishing studies 2012/2013 class  with her lively presentation on the UNESCO badge of City of Literature  – a designation, which was bestowed upon Edinburgh back in 2004. The City of Literature Trust  is head by Peggy herself and her boss Alison Bowden.

Why Edinburgh should be designated as a City of Literature by UNESCO, you might ask. Well, when a group of prominent figures in the literary scene having a post-prandial discussion they came to the surprising conclusion that as Edinburgh was “brilliant at books,” something should be done to make sure this would become general knowledge. Simply because Edinburgh has a huge literary heritage, and has a vibrant contemporary scene – already hosting some of the world’s most well-known and largest poetry and literature festivals and events.

Organisations from grassroots up to government level Edinburgh worked together to create The Bid, an audit of all Scottish literary accomplishments in two volumes – talking about putting things in a nutshell – We Cultivate Literature on a Little Oatmeal. It took a bundle of Scottish treats (whiskey, haggis, bagpiper among others) to convince the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

Among her lively and very fast paced presentation, the class was entertained with best bits of past events that had aimed to hold Edinburgh to its badge of honour as well as a selected few spoilers over the upcoming events. Working together with other Edinburgh literary events and organisations, the City of Literature has proven to be worth every bit of the designation, more than holding its own among the others with its goals of establishing partnerships, promoting participation, learning as well as advocating awareness towards Edinburgh and keeping the focus on creativity, bringing people together in literature.

Thank you to Peggy for the grand insight into the Scottish literature scene and its uniqueness, and I’m sure the class cannot wait to see the ‘Stache-mob or join the Literary Salon.