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Saltire Society Literary Awards 2014

November 19th, 2014 by Callum Mitchell Walker | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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SCOTLAND ALBA LOGOOn Tuesday 11th November several of our MLitt & PhD students enjoyed an evening of literature, music and canapés at the Saltire Literary Awards hosted at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. The Saltire Society, a non-political independent charity founded in 1936, hosts the annual ceremony to celebrate the finest Scottish literature produced in the past year.

The most prestigious award of the night, the Saltire Society Book of the Year, was won by an academic work detailing Scottish urbanisation in the 18th century, The Scottish Town in the Age of Enlightenment 1740-1820. Co-authored by professors Bob Harris and the late Charles McKean, the book was produced after a three-year long period of research and also won this year’s Saltire Society Research Book of the Year award. Exploring the transitional development of 18th century burghs and the importance of understanding these changes in society, the book was described as a “pioneering study” by judges. Professor Harris received a cash prize of £10,000 at the ceremony and told guests that he was honoured to win the award in a country “with such a rich tradition of writing”.

Winners in the categories of poetry, history, literature and first book, were awarded £2,000, including Alexander Hutchison for his collection Bones and Breath, which claimed the Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year award. Described as a “masterly new collection” from the poet, the book mixes satire with affection. The History Book of the Year award was won by social historian Steve Bruce for his exploration of cultural and religious change in Scotland in Scottish Gods: Religion in Modern Scotland 1900-2012. Ali Smith took the Saltire Society Literary Book of the Year award home for her novel, How to be Both, described by judges as “an exhilarating read” in which two narratives are linked despite being set centuries apart. Celebrating the emerging talent of first-time authors who have not previously been published, the First Book of the Year award was won by Niall Campbell for his “remarkably powerful first collection” Moontide, which was praised as “one of the most distinctive lyric voices to emerge from Scotland in recent years”.

 

1113921311400The Saltire Society Publisher of the Year award was introduced in 2013 and is supported by Creative Scotland. Celebrating the vitality and innovation of Scottish-based publishers, this year the award was won by Dingwall-based small enterprise Sandstone Press. The publisher was awarded £4,000 to assist further developments in the company’s business and was recognised for their “enthusiastic pragmatism” and the quality of their editorial work. Sandstone faced strong competition from a shortlist including Backpage Press, Freight, Birlinn, Bright Red and Floris. Executive Director of the Saltire Society Jim Tough praised the shortlisted publishers for showing “[the] creativity and adaptability needed to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace”.

Other awards of the night included the Saltire Society Literary Travel Bursary, supported by the British Council. The award went to St. Andrews University student Lenore Bell, who won a cash prize of £1,500. This prize will fund her research for a novel set in Edwardian Brooklyn in the USA.

Supporting the next generation of academics, the Ross Roy Medal is awarded to the best PhD thesis on a subject relating to Scottish literature. This year’s winner was Stirling University’s very own Barbara Leonardi for her thesis, “An Exploration of Gender Stereotypes in the Work of James Hogg”. Dr Scott Lyall, Chair of the judging panel, commented that “Leonardi’s writing is beautiful, and she shows real conceptual and socio-historical nous in opening up Hogg’s writing to a feminist and postmodern analysis”.

Congratulations to all the winners of the night and thank you to the Saltire Society for celebrating the Scottish imagination, and giving us a fantastic evening!

 

 

 

 

Aidan Moffat and the Lavender Blue Dress

November 17th, 2014 by Lara Gascón | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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On Saturday November 15th, the acclaimed Scottish singer-songwriter Aidan Moffat was in Waterstone’s Bookseller located at Stirling Thistle Marches Shopping Centre as part of the promotional tour of his first children’s book, The Lavender Blue Dress. It has been published by Cargo Publishing in time for Christmas so if you lack of ideas, this books could be a nice present for young children. The book is beautifully crafted with art by award winning illustrator Emmeline Pidgen and a removable double sided dust jacket with a ‘cut out and play’ paper doll. The book also includes a CD with the book read by Aidan and music by Bill.

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The event started at 3pm and finished twenty minutes after. Even if it was not the most crowded book launch event I’ve ever attended, Moffat approached the few children that were in the bookstore, getting down to their level by setting on the floor. Then, he started to read the book. The kids listened to him, completely, attentively and in silence. There was a little girl that seemed particularly captivated bythe author’s words; eyes wide open, looking at the illustrations of the book while she played incessantly with the curls of her blond hair.

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After the reading, the author got up and went sitting on a chair for signing copies of the book. Most of the people that were queuing were fans that bought the book because they wanted to have the opportunity to talking with the composer. The rest were parents that offered the book to their kids, but also wanted author’s signature and dedication. And the fact is that, as usually happens, the author’s personal brand seams to attract more customers than the book itself.

Even if Aidan Moffat is a long way from celebrities that are launching children’s books with the help of ghost-writers, is undeniable that being previously known as a singer catches the attention of future readers. I myself wanted to know more about what could have been the result of this book after knowing that the author was best known for writing songs about sex, drugs and death. “So please just ignore all the moods and the maybes, lift up your skirt and I’ll fill you with babies”, sings the singer that is writing for kids.

However, Aidan has crafted a sweet and heart-warming tale of family, friendship and the really important things in life. But he didn’t do it alone. Moffat told the media that the story was based on a tale he heard as a child:

The Lavender Blue Dress is a story my grandfather used to tell me and my cousins,” he said. “I used to spend every weekend at my grandparents’ and it was a story he told regularly. A few years ago I wrote it down and put it together as a story which I occasionally read live at gigs. I don’t know where my Papa got the story – I think he made it up. It was very simple and I’ve embellished it a bit.”

The Lavender Blue Dress tells the story of Mabel, a little girl who wants nothing more than a beautiful dress to wear to the Christmas ball. The crux of the story is that the family can’t afford the dress in question so they make it for the girl. As the author explains, it’s very much a story about love, and about love being more important than material items.

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You can view the teaser trailer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46ImRXMQP7I

Moffat says that he would like to publish further children’s books if The Lavender Blue Dress is well received, there’s a second one that he has finished and he has ideas for a couple more:

“The second one is about how to cope with your parents arguing, which I can imagine is something
every child has to deal with.”

Personally, I really like the moral background of the book. I have always thought that children’s books are a basic tool to teach and reinforce kids’ essential values as sharing, helping, being kind…And as I could confirm, Aidan Moffat can transmit this ideas in a charming piece, with catching and lovely illustrations that bring author’s words to life.

Source: Cowing, Emma, “Arab Strap singer Aidan Moffat pens children’s book”, The Scotsman, http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/books/arab-strap-singer-aidan-moffat-pens-children-s-book-1-3191767, November 17, 2013

The Electric Bookshop birthday party

November 5th, 2014 by Paula De Lucas Gudiel | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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B0F7SsXCQAAz8GZOn Thursday, October 16th was the 4th birthday of the Electric Bookshop. They celebrated it with an event in Edinburgh in which attendants could enjoy wine, cupcakes and three wonderful speakers. At the beginning of the evening, the members of the organisation of the Electric bookshop, Claire Stewart, Peggy Hughes and Padmini Ray Murray, discussed what their favourite moments of the year were. Primarely, for new comers as me, this was very helpful to know more about what they focus on. The organisation holds events to congregate people from various fields: technology, publishing, design and literature. As intimidating as this mixture might sound, they can be proud for having a big participation in their debates.

B0F80beIcAEWLOxThe first speaker to participate was Kate Ho, Managing Director of Interface3, which designs and exciting customer branded experiences using innovative technologies (such as Augmented Reality, Mobile Games). At the moment, Kate Ho is focusing on educational games, and she spoke about her project Stobhill, a 3D interactive experience based on Edwin Morgan’s poem with the same name. The game is set in a scary abandoned hospital that shares the name with the title. The players are supposed to use the audio of three people and their stories related to the building to work on their achievements in the game, and so find about the disturbing plot and terrorific resolution.

B0GG7KPCUAAsKGMThe second speaker who took part in the event was Alan Trotter. He is a writer from Aberdeen, winner of the Sceptre Prize for emerging writers and currently studying his PhD in University of Glasgow, researching for his project called Bodies of work: unusual uses of the physical form of the book. His work is characteristic for his study on the difference between printed text and text on the screen (HTML). In his participation, he talked about the play with form and this web-experiment he is working on.

The last speaker in the evening was Rob Morgan. Unfortunately, he couldn’t attend the event physically, but when the venue is organised by technology geeks, there’s always a way to sort out difficulties, so we could enjoy of his participation through Skype. Rob Morgan is a game writer, narrative designer and voice director. His participation was about the control and content of the player in a videogame, since this is very different from those in books. Fielectric-logo2rst, he discussed how the player interacts in the game, how he can control the story and the plot, but also how some games don’t give the player any choices to develop the plot in the game. Regarding the content of a game, he also explained how to create characters that the players can be identified with, how to make it exciting and interesting so the player can work on the development of the character, since he is the one in control of the storyline in the videogame.

This event clearly brought together different fields that, actually, work together most of the times. At the same time, it also was enlightening to learn more about how technology, set in the modern world, and literature, existing since ancient ages, come along so well together.

Volunteering at Bloody Scotland (2014)

October 3rd, 2014 by Jennifer Katherine Hamrick | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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Bloody Scotland Info Desk

Working the Info Desk

I volunteered for the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival (which took place September 19th-21st) and got to experience the behind-the-scenes work of a major literary event. The amount of effort it requires to keep everything moving smoothly — from helping guests to setting up tech equipment to carting around boxes of books — is astonishing; and that’s just what the volunteers were doing! Staff and festival managers were running around directing author panels and coordinating volunteer efforts while still managing to keep big smiles on their faces.

One of the things I noticed quickly about the festival was how close-knit this crime-fiction community was. The guests that I spoke with were all avid readers of crime fiction and were familiar with many, if not all, of the authors’ works. Unlike many other genres, there didn’t seem to be a gender imbalance in the crime community; just as many men attended as women. It was very obvious from the types of books being presented that this genre has a lot of room for diversity as well as a very well-defined market niche.

From my experience attending book festivals in Texas, I was surprised that most of the author panels cost money to attend. It is common for American book festivals to be open and free for audience members and to cover costs by relying solely on corporate sponsorship and souvenir sales. In many ways, I think Bloody Scotland missed out on reaching a wider audience by charging guests to see author panels; I think people who might be interested in learning more about crime fiction, but aren’t familiar with certain authors, might be dissuaded from attending because of high prices.

Overall, Bloody Scotland succeeded in connecting authors with their readers and promoting new works to those who are always looking for the next crime to solve. For me, getting to meet the wonderful staff and volunteers as well as listen in on a few author panels was an amazing opportunity. I would highly recommend that anyone interested in learning more about book promotion and marketing strategies volunteer at a book festival; the experience is well worth it.

Bloody Scotland 2014 Programme Launch

June 8th, 2014 by Stevie Marsden | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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photo (10)Stevie Marsden reports on the launch of this year’s Bloody Scotland festival:

Wednesday 4th June saw the launch of the third Bloody Scotland festival, Scotland’s first and only literary festival dedicated to celebrating crime fiction from all over the world, which will take place from Friday 19th to Sunday 21st of September this year.  The intimate lunch time unveiling of this year’s programme was held at Tolbooth, Stirling where Dom Hastings, the festival manager, commented on the diversity of the festival’s proceedings with events ranging from live talks from best-selling and world-renowned crime writers Ian Rankin and Kathy Reichs, to a discussion about the representation of women in crime fiction hosted by the Glasgow Women’s Library and a play re-enacting the trial of notorious serial killer Peter Manual to be held in the fitting setting of Stirling Sheriff Court.

As well as putting together a fantastic programme every year, which not only promotes Scotland’s extraordinary love for crime writing but also encourages crime fiction lovers from all over the world to visit Stirling, one of Scotland’s most historic (and haunted!) cities, the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing festival is unique in that it actively encourages crime fiction fans to become creators of crime fiction.

Since its conception, Bloody Scotland has had a strong commitment to finding and promoting the next generation of crime writers.  Even before the festival programme was launched, the Bloody Scotland Short Story Competition was open for submissions.  This competition – the winner of which receives £1,000 and a
weekend pass to the   festival – is open to all previously unpublished writers from all over the world. short story comp I’m lucky enough to help in the co-ordination of the competition, and it’s really exciting to see undiscovered authors get the opportunity to have their work read by a worldwide audience; last year’s winner was US writer Mindy Quigley who won a landslide public vote for her story ‘The Best Dish’.

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Not content with inviting the world’s crime-lit-enthusiasts to try their hand at writing short fiction, the festival weekend opens with a day of Crime Writing Masterclasses held at the MacRobert Arts Centre at the University of Stirling on Friday 19th September.  The day is full of enlightening and insightful workshops, allowing budding crime writers to spend time refining their writing skills under the guidance of best-selling authors and experts in the publishing field.  This year’s line-up of writers and publishers includes Christopher Broomkyre, Helen Sedgwick, Craig Robertson and Sara Hunt to name but a few!

As if all this wasn’t enough, Bloody Scotland also holds its annual ‘Pitch Perfect’ event on Sunday 21st September.  Sponsored by the Open University Scotland, this competition allows aspiring novelists to pitch their idea to a panel of publishers for the chance to gain invaluable feedback from experts in the field.  This year’s panel includes Alison Hennessey, Senior Crime Editor at Harvill Secker, Krystyna Green, Editorial Director for Constable & Robinson crime fiction and Tricia Jackson, Editorial Director at Pan MacMillan.  Last year’s ‘Pitch Perfect’ event was brilliant, and it was fascinating to hear some of the ideas for (as yet!) unpublished work and the feedback that the specialists in the field had to offer.

What all of these events show is that the Bloody Scotland festival is not just an amazing opportunity for readers and writers to come together in a celebration of all things crime-lit related, but it is also a brilliant occasion dedicated to inspiring the next cohort of  crime writers.  Bloody Scotland, along with the University of Stirling’s Creative Writing team, the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication and Open University Scotland, actively encourages attendees to get involved in crime writing, arguably making Bloody Scotland one of the most inspiring literary festivals in the world.

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Publishing Showcase 2014

April 24th, 2014 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | 1 Comment
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We’re already nearing the end of classes for 2013-14!

Only a moment ago, our 2013-14 cohort of MLitt in Publishing Studies students were fresh-faced and eager to embark on their publishing studies.

Now, they may be a little more tired, and both excited and intimidated by the job search ahead, but more than anything they’re much more publishing savvy.

We’re celebrating their achievements on Monday 12 May by showcasing their work from the Publishing Project. There will also be invited guests from our Industry Advisory Board, and a selection of our PhD and MRes students speaking in a round table about publishing studies research.

You are welcome to join us to either or both parts of the afternoon – please let us know if you’d like to come so we have an idea of numbers.

3-4.15pm Round Table on Publishing Research (Chaired by Claire Squires, with Maxine Branagh, Paul Docherty, Carol Mango, Rachel Noorda, Anna Kiernan, Stevie Marsden and Louisa Preston). Pathfoot B2

4.30pm onwards Publishing Showcase and Drinks Reception. Pathfoot Crush Hall.

AHRC PhD studentship ‘Developing Literary Glasgow’

June 7th, 2013 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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FULLY-FUNDED AHRC PHD STUDENTSHIP: DEVELOPING LITERARY GLASGOW

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 (claire.squires@stir.ac.uk) 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.

 

VISITING SPEAKERS FOR SEMESTER 2, 2012-13

February 19th, 2013 by Frances_Sessford | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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The Centre’s Visiting Speakers programme for this semester presents a broad mix of academic and industry experience. All sessions are held at 2pm in Pathfoot B2. Attendance is free but there is limited space so please register via publishing@stir.ac.uk to book a place.

The series begins on Thursday February 21 with an academic perspective from John Maxwell, lecturer in Publishing at Simon Fraser University in Canada. This is followed on February 28 by Emma House of The Publishers’ Association, the representative body of the UK publishing trade. Two small independent publishers based in Scotland follow: Mark Buckland of Cargo Publishing  in Glasgow (March 7) and Eleanor Collins and Helena Waldron from Floris Books  in Edinburgh (March 14). On March 21, John Seaton, Inventory Manager at Canongate Books will talk about what’s involved in good backlist management, while March 28 hosts Alastair Horne, Social Media and Communities Manager at Cambridge University Press, who will focus on digital publishing.

After the mid-semester break, on April 11 we welcome John Storey, Head of Literature and Publishing at the Gaelic Books Council. Another independent publisher, Vanessa Robertson of Fidra Books will speak on April 18, followed by the final session on April 25 with Timothy Wright, Publisher at Edinburgh University Press.

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

February 17th, 2013 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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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.

Comics and the Publishing Industry

January 11th, 2013 by Claire Jeffery | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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Artwork by Cheridan Smith

 

It’s a good question; and one that inverts the typical view of the artist dependant entirely on the promotion of the publisher. The panel on the night were well-equipped for this discussion.

From the right, John McShane was the host for the evening from Graphic Scotland, an organisation promoting comics locally. He was joined by Martin Conaghan, writer of the comic Burke and Hare, Gordon Roberts of Geekchocolate.co.uk and Arsecancer.co.uk fame; Gary Erskine, creator of the Roller Grrrls series; and Ernesto Priego, who is involved both in academic study in the field and is a cofounder of Comicsgrid.com. A late but welcome addition to the panel was the appearance of Gill Hatcher, who was pulled from the audience and offered a great insight into the discussion with her self-published Team Girl Comic.

There were quite a few themes present in the discussion. The role of distribution and how methods of reaching an audience have dramatically changed in the past few years – to the advantage of the comic writer and the disadvantage of the publisher. The financial realities of going it alone. The difficulties in having a sustainable career in an area where the expectation is of a free product.  The pride and passion that every project big or small is published with.

The key has always been getting the right product to the right customer; something that the current system struggles to achieve. Bigger publishers appeal to broad markets, and therefore by selling in large bookshops and having promotions on a national scale they can get results. But this is impossible for comics targeted at smaller or even niche markets. For example, one based on a particular city would benefit from being sold mainly in that city, but not in every bookshop in the country.  Reaching the customer has taken on a completely different meaning with the advent of the internet. Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter allow companies to complete projects that would never have seen the light of day. Communities online allow people with similar interests to come together no matter what their geographical location. Social media allows small and self-publishers to market themselves and reach new customers. This targeted selling means that money previously wasted on generic advertising is instead used to reach those directly interested in the comic.

The difficulty lies in pricing products created and sold online. Consumers have a natural expectation of low prices for digital work because they don’t have a physical product to hold. Publishers have an opposing expectation for higher prices given the longevity of electronic products. But these can be debated. In the closing stages of the discussion, Gary Erksine brought up the loss of his artwork from his computer.  It wasn’t due to a file being misplaced, the computer being hacked or even the artwork being stolen: the technology and files from only seven years ago were obsolete. The digital revolution is gaining momentum by the day, and is dictated by trends and fashions as companies selling technology survive by continually moving to a new product.  But as this happens we move on from previous electronic forms and in many cases lose access to the files that came before them. A consumer-driven society means that, where an old book can be found years later on a shelf, digital technology and software is rapidly replaced. The illusion of digital products lasting eternally hides the reality that data can be lost in a simple click of a button.  The future of publishing depends on finding a balance between printed and electronic materials.

The overall answer to the question of do comics need publishers is yes – even coming from a panel largely working as independent or self-publishers on individual projects. The big publishers are needed by the industry for large scale ventures, for developing a brand and even giving  individuals enough notoriety through their work that personal projects can be pursued. But the smaller and self-publishers are also essential as a force for the life blood of the industry, driven by passion and enthusiasm. Comics are a medium which cannot be produced without this drive.  With the role of the publisher changing and communities with no boundaries, there are increasing gaps that can be filled by those who have a message to say and a desire to say it.

 

– Claire Jeffery