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education

Visiting Speaker: Peter Dennis – Leckie & Leckie.

February 8th, 2015 by Heather Margaret McDaid | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker: Peter Dennis – Leckie & Leckie.
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The first Visiting Speaker session of 2015 was Peter Dennis, Publishing Manager at Leckie & Leckie. The company has a goal to produce ‘high quality education resources for the secondary school market’, which includes textbooks and revision guides.

comm gordonMere weeks into starting his job, the company was sold on to Granada Learning, the first of many to acquire the company who are now (happily!) part of HarperCollins. He began in a house in St. Andrews, working in ‘an attic next to a printer and a bearded gentlemen who quietly got on and made the books.’

Part of his job is drawing the budget, from the costs and sales projections to the pricing of the book itself. You need to look at the market and justify the need for the book, and look at the competition to hit the right price mark. Too high and no one will buy it, too low and you’ll lose your profit.

He also commissions the books, so needs to brief an author (or the team of authors) so they know exactly what’s expected. Standard templates and chapter features for ease of creation and continuity are key throughout.

The instigation of the company’s real growth came from winning the Scottish contract for past papers; there was a definite need to expand and working in a rural area can only go so far. Rural companies and publishers are not doomed to failure, he adds, but there can be a limiting factor in terms of growth.

The current SQA changes, moving to the Curriculum for Excellence, is the first overhaul of this kind in Scotland’s education sector for about 20 years, so it’s a big threat to the company as their entire list is technically gone, but also an opportunity spiralling from that need to create a new range of excellent products.

This is almost a good thing, as he notes that Leckie & Leckie was beginning to run dry with topics they could create books for. As there was no real change, the scope to expand into became narrower; they tried smaller subjects with smaller cohorts, topics like Graphic Communication and Home Economics, but there weren’t many places left to go.

7bb576f7-9b3b-4e3d-a49e-f0492d143d44To create an authoritative text, you need to wait until the tinkering by the SQA is done. “People want to have something that they can open up and use,” he explains; they need to be patient at times in order to create a high quality, accurate product. Within that there are additional opportunities to spark interest and differentiate themselves using exercises, hints and tips, word banks, glossaries and so on.

The process, editorially speaking, can be much the same as with trade as there is a back-and-forth needed to refine the initial manuscripts and get them to the required standard; this is aided by peer reviews, which also gives the author a sounding board during the writing process. Author input doesn’t stop there. They help with design aspects, making sure the diagrams and images used are correctly placed and accurate.

As for the future of publishing, he says, it’s digital. They’re looking to expand their content onto a digital, interactive, fee-based platform. Being part of a larger company mitigates the risk of embarking on this project, something which they likely could not afford to risk quite yet themselves. It is new, but with tightening school budgets, they would offer free samples and justify that the appetite for such a service is there from both sides.

In Scotland, we’re lucky to have a stable curriculum, where other countries in the United Kingdom have a more volatile and politically sensitive system. In that situation, it can be a boost to publishing, but can also prove difficult to plan ahead.

Throughout his time with Leckie & Leckie, he feels that the Scottish education system itself, being different to elsewhere in the UK, made them able to retain their brand identity despite being acquired by numerous companies, which is a nice thought to end an interesting talk!

An Introduction to Oxford University Press

December 12th, 2013 by Min | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on An Introduction to Oxford University Press
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Min Yu reports on Vivian Marr (OUP)’s Visiting Speaker session:

Oxford University Press is a worldwide academic publisher. We were so lucky to have Vivian Marr, Head of Language Acquisition from the Global Academic Business to give us a presentation about OUP. According to Vivian’s talk, we know so much  information about the press and learned useful knowledge.

First of all, Vivian introduced the important history timeline of the OUP, for example, in 1478, first book printed in Oxford, first publication of Oxford English Dictionary (in instalments) in 1884 and OED online launched in 2000. With the develoment of OUP, it has enabled excellent research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. When Vivian introduce the range of publishing, we are surprised that OUP has 6500 employees in 60 countries and more than 4000 employees are outside the UK. It has more than 6000 new copyrights per year across 40 languages. We can see OUP is the largest and most successful University Press in the world.

Then, Vivian presented the structures of OUP and its governance. It is amazing that its publishing branches are in 13 countries, offices in another 50 countries and representation in more that 50 countries. OUP has 5 main business groups to maintain and extend the market: Global Academic Business,English Language Teaching, Oxford Education (Oxed), Asia Education and OUP Esp.

OUP also has rapid digital growth, with its digital sales doubling in the three years 2012. OUP now has more than 15,000 UK and US titles available as eBooks, and 250 mobile Apps for iPhone, iPad, and other mobile devices-developed using OUP content. Finally, Vivian told us about the development of dictionaries at OUP in the future. Dictionaries are also very important because they provide new business and revenue opportunities because digital licensing income of the dictionaries will replace the lost print salses revenue. In the future, OUP would like to lead the global brand in the world, so it has some global language solutions, for example, it will use a global content brand to work with global technology companies.

After Vivain’s presentation, I learn so many useful things.She also gave us some useful websies and twitter presence, so if you want to learn more about OUP, you can visit these :

www.oup.com: general information about OUP, also vacancies and internships
www.oxforddictionaries.com: free dictionary service with premium subscription service
www.oed.com: the full history of the English language, constantly updated
www.oxfordreference.com: access to hundreds of Oxford’s reference titles
www.oxfordlanguagedictionaries.com: French, Chinese, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish bilingual dictionaries

Twitter presence

•@oupacademic: info on OUP’s publishing, mainly from the Global Academic Business Division
•@oxfordwords: anything to do with words, new and old, grammar, writing, language and lots more
•@oed: the latest research from the Oxford English Dictionary