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events

What’s Wrong with Women’s Writing?: Centre Director speaks at Aye Write

March 4th, 2012 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | 1 Comment
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The Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, Professor Claire Squires, will be appearing at Glasgow’s Aye Write! festival on Sunday 11 March, at 3.30pm.

 She will be speaking on the topic of ‘What’s Wrong with Women’s Writing’, along with authors Laura Marney and Karen Campbell, and Sue John of Glasgow Women’s Library. The debate will be chaired by Vicky Allan of the Herald.

 ​As Aye Write! Has it, ‘the people who buy books, read and recommend to friends – in short those shaping the publishing trends – are women. The people writing the reviews and winning the prizes are men.’

 Expect some feisty debate! Tickets are available from the Aye Write! website.

Copyright: what’s it all about?

November 21st, 2011 by Catriona_Cox | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Copyright: what’s it all about?
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As of Sunday we have answered this question. Well, not quite; the day did, however, lead to interesting insights and ideas on the past, present and future of copyright. I was delighted to hear that it was a few Irish lads that started the whole ruckus. Things really kicked off in the 6th century and copyright, although lacking now in literal battles, has continued to be as contentious an issue as it ever was. Copyright has over 1000 years of legal tradition that was first contested through the Brehon Laws between St. Colmcille and St. Finian.

The speakers present were Ronan Sheehan, Dr.Aileen Fyfe and Stephen Taylor. It was, of course, chaired by our own Dr. Padmini Ray-Murray.

Ronan was truly charismatic to listen to and I think drew everyone in the room right into the bones of the issue. Something that shone through is that copyright was not considered theft but was infringement of a civil right. This is something that is coming to the forefront of the discussion on copyright again today.

Aileen then took us through the history of copyright here in the UK during the 18th and 19th centuries. 1709 saw the first British Copyright Act, officially called the Act for the Encouragement of Learning. Copyright length has varied through the years, Aileen’s ability to remember the length and times of these variations was very impressive.

Stephen Taylor dealt with the more modern aspects of Copyright. He particularly referenced the Digital Economy Act which is the big 21st century Act. Stephen was very interesting and easy to listen to and also had a few fun anecdotes to share. The whole idea of blaming ISPs came up and is rather contentious.

I loved the Irish references that were scattered throughout Ronan’s opinions. It was interesting to hear of Piggley Pooh, and I am now surprised that I’d never heard of this case.

I think that most people present seemed to understand the value of copyright but did not really think that the terms that copyrights are valid for are sustainable or useful. This has made me realise that I approve of copyright but only think that it should last the lifetime of the author/creator. The whole issue seems to be the question: What is the commodity? If people can answer this then maybe we will know.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all the speakers, and as Padmini led us in questions and debate I think that a great balance was struck between the three speakers and their audience.

Catriona Cox

World Book Day 2012

November 8th, 2011 by Paola_Gonella | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on World Book Day 2012
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World Book and Copyright Day (also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Days) is a yearly event organized by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright. Since 1995, it has been celebrated all over the world on April 23rd, but in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland it is held on the first Thursday in March, a decision made to avoid clashes with Easter school holidays, as well as the fact that it is also the National Saint’s Day.

Drawing inspiration from a 90-year-old Catalonian tradition where roses and books were given as gifts to loved ones on St. George’s Day, World Book Day UK was launched by Prime Minister Tony Blair back in 1998: several million schoolchildren in Great Britain were given a £1 special World Book Day Book Token (€1.50 in Ireland) to be redeemed against any book in any UK bookseller. Since then, the event has grown each year to encompass more initiatives, such as Quick Reads Initiative, a series of short books by bestselling authors and celebrities designed to encourage adults who do not read often, or find reading tough, to discover the joy of books.

World Book Day 2012 in the UK and Ireland will take place on Thursday 1st March and it is set for a revamp. Led by children’s marketing specialist – and Stirling alumna –  Kirsten Grant as its new director and Penguin’s Joanna Prior as chair, the new management hopes to achieve more than one million book token redemptions next year. As one of the many initiatives organised for the occasion, more than 1,000 guests are expected to attend the first UK-wide Online Festival, which is expected to take place on London’s Southbank and will be streamed live to thousands of children in schools, libraries and bookshops. WBD will also work with the Publishers Association to boost political engagement through the government’s Reading For Pleasure agenda.

Book Cultures, Book Events Conference

October 23rd, 2011 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | 1 Comment
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Proposals for papers now being accepted. Deadline 6 January 2012.

The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, in collaboration with Queen Margaret University (Edinburgh), the University of Dundee, and Bookfestival Scotland announces the conference ‘Book Cultures, Book Events’, to be held at the University of Stirling from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 March 2012.

Plenary  speakers include: Dr Danielle Fuller of the University of Birmingham

Call for Papers:

A significant development in the environment of literature and the book at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries has been the growth of literary festivals and book towns. As part of the literary marketing mix, book festivals and towns offer publishers the opportunity to promote their authors and sell their products. Such locations also provide physical and sociological spaces in which readers encounter writers and literature, and become book consumers. Book festivals and towns have clear links to regional economies, and are heavily used in the promotion of tourist destinations, as testified by the strategic partnerships and sponsorship arrangements with a variety of agencies. As part of this process, concepts of cultural identity are forged and commodified, conjoining literature to cultural heritage, the creative industries and political ideology. In the era of new media and digital delivery, the opportunity to meet authors and fellow readers face-to-face, to buy books and other merchandise, and to align a liking for literature with travel and tourism, is being taken up by hundreds of thousands of readers every year. Literary festivals and towns, while heavily promoted by digital marketing activities, afford physical meeting spaces for authors, books, readers and ideas.

To explore these events and environments, the Book Cultures, Book Events conference will bring together academic and student researchers from different disciplines with practitioners and stakeholders, to their contemporary perspectives and historical precedents. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • literature as live event
  • analyses of contemporary or historical book events, festivals, conferences and environments (including bookshop spaces)
  • the role of live events in the digital age
  • author/reader interactions at live events
  • literary travel, tourism and heritage
  • literary commerce and merchandising
  • book events and other media/cultural forms
  • partnerships and sponsorship
  • constructions of cultural identity via literature events
  • literature in the context of cultural heritage, the creative industries, and political ideology

Proposals for papers of 20 minutes are invited. Please send as an email attachment abstracts of 300-400 words, plus a biography of 100-150 words, by 6 January 2012, to: book.cultures@stir.ac.uk .

The conference is supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and as such registration costs for the conference will be minimal.

The conference is part of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Workshop Book Events: The Transnational Culture, Commerce and Social Impact of Literary Festivals, organised in association with the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication at the University of Stirling, Queen Margaret University, the University of Dundee and Bookfestival Scotland.

For any enquiries, please contact: book.cultures@stir.ac.uk

Stories for a Better Nation

October 13th, 2011 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Stories for a Better Nation
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The Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP delivered the Williamson Memorial Lecture at the University of Stirling tonight, speaking to the title ‘A Better Nation? A Personal Reflection on Scotland’s Future’. A central element of his argument was the need for political discourse surrounding Scottish nationhood, and the forthcoming independence debate, to attain a ‘different quality of imagination’.

His words were reminiscent of those spoken by Andrew O’Hagan a couple of weeks earlier, and reported on by MLitt in Publishing Studies student Nuria Ruiz. Books, O’Hagan, argued, make the world more real for us. O’Hagan’s idea, paraphrases Nuria, was ‘that Scottish civic memory actually finds its most forceful expression in the arts – Scottish plays, music, art and books are becoming powerful, punching above their weight in the cultural stakes. In particular, books are playing a bigger role in making the world “more real” for us as Scots.’

Alexander’s speech provided an interesting counterpoint to the O’Hagan’s argument. In a talk peppered with references to Shakespeare, Plato, Burns, William McIlvanney and Alasdair Gray, he made an argument for a politics informed by a pluralistic imagination and underpinned by the principles of common humanity. Democratic politics, he says, have taught him many things, including:

‘that in policy, statistics matter, but in politics, stories matter too. Because stories help shape what is hidden in plain sight all around us – what we judge has meaning, and what we judge doesn’t. And it is through stories that we provoke the feelings of hope that are at the heart of participating in a progressive society – the care, concern, and compassion that has always underpinned the will to act.’

The place of writing – and publishing – in this vision is worth considering further. Nuria ended her blog on Andrew O’Hagan by arguing that Scottish publishing can and should be central, that ‘if Scottish book culture is on the ascendant, then Scottish publishing can become as commanding as the stories it makes and preserves.’ Alexander ended his speech with an appeal to the future: ‘the history of Scotland, written by this generation, can and will be remembered not by the “The End of an Auld Sang” but positively and vibrantly by “The beginning of a New Story”.

The role of writers, artists, musicians, poets – and indeed publishers – should take its place at the heart of this narrative: asking difficult questions, creating new stories, communicating them effectively to a variety of audiences.

The conversation continues…

The full text of Douglas Alexander’s speech is available here.

Publishing Scotland’s In-Company Development Project – First Seminar

October 5th, 2011 by Frances_Sessford | Posted in Blog | 1 Comment
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The In-Company Development Programme is the brainchild of Publishing Scotland CEO, Marion Sinclair. It is an ambitious scheme designed to enable publishers based in Scotland to develop and grow their businesses in order to respond to changing consumer trends in markets at home and overseas. Seven publishing companies have been chosen to participate: Acair, Sandstone Press, Freight Books, Saraband, Strident Publishing, Floris Books and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The publishers will have three seminar days where they can view presentations from and meet with industry professionals; and they will also benefit from the services and experience of an industry expert who will work alongside each business, offering advice and input on issues such as publishing strategy, growth strategy, exploiting intellectual property, and financial matters.

On Thursday 29th September, the seven chosen publishers gathered for the first seminar in the company of their mentors, speakers and other guests from the publishing industry. David Pirnie, strategy consultant and programme manager, opened the session with a warm welcome and announced the focus of the first seminar: the business of publishing in the context of researching the market, managing change and seeking investment.

The first speaker was Reeta Davis of Nielsen Bookscan, who gave a master class in market research: what it is, where to get it from, why publishers need it and most importantly, how to make the most of the research you have at your disposal. The presentation included some valuable and detailed information about the current state of the UK market. Accurate, reliable, up-to-date research often has to be paid for; publishers have to ask whether it is worth their while. Spending £1000 on some detailed research which will enable you to better judge your print runs could save the business much more money in the long run.

Martin Redfern, one of the programme mentors, opened the next stage with a brief presentation on the challenges of managing change. In his opinion, small publishers are actually at an advantage when it comes to adapting to change: flatter management structures and simpler operations mean they can move more quickly in response to market needs than the clumsier corporates. This was illustrated in excellent detail by two fantastic case studies, presented by Vivian Marr of OUP and Jenny Todd of Canongate, respectively. The former showed a corporate giant’s struggle to move a large and successful list from print to digital, while the latter addressed the challenges which came to Canongate in the wake of one of their biggest successes: Life of Pi’s winning the Man Booker Prize in 2002. This was a particularly fascinating and illuminating part of the day: it is rare to be privy to the details of a publisher’s operations. Delegates were impressed. The conclusions: make your decisions, communicate them effectively and get people on board – a fractured operation responding to conflicting messages will not cope well with change.

Managing change effectively relies a lot on making a secure base, and finding investment is an important part of this. The only resource most publishers have in limitless quantities is enthusiasm. Donald Boyd, Head of Media at Campbell Dallas gave his advice on investment sources for publishers and, more importantly, assessing the potential risks and benefits involved. He urged delegates to reflect that while doing nothing with their business was an option to be considered, it is also the one to be left behind. However, if you are going to seek funding from an external source, you must be able to live with the consequences. While Donald Boyd pointed out that looking to conventional sources of funding for projects (such as banks) is virtually pointless in today’s climate, several of his existing clients have had some success in seeking funding by crowd-sourcing. This is one way in which publishers might be able to generate new resources in future.

Summary feedback from the attending publishers was extremely positive. While many of the delegates have no formal publishing training they have all learned the hard way about publishing through their trials, mistakes and successes. This session gave them time out to consider their businesses from fresh perspectives; to think about their options for growth and development; and to discuss plans and hopes with industry colleagues. Exactly how these businesses will change and develop is impossible to say, but this is an extremely exciting time not just for them but for Scottish publishing as a whole.

Project Assistant for Book Cultures, Book Events research

October 2nd, 2011 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Project Assistant for Book Cultures, Book Events research
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With funding from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Professor Claire Squires (Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication) and Professor David Finkelstein (Queen Margaret University) will be running a series of events on the topic of literary festivals and live book events in 2011 and early 2012, including an academic conference and practitioner/stakeholder-focused events. Project assistance is sought for the following roles:

Research and Administrative Assistant for events from late October 2011-March 2012. 60 hours @ £15 an hour. Skills and experience needed for the position:

  • Aptitude for events organisation and administration
  • Knowledge of and interest in contemporary publishing, literature and creative industries
  • Experience and/or aptitude for research in areas relating to the project

Research Assistant for completion of report and other outputs March-April 2012.

  • 20 hours @ £15 an hour. Skills and experience needed for the position:
  • Knowledge of and interest in contemporary publishing, literature and creative industries
  • Experience and/or aptitude for research in areas relating to the project

The roles can be combined. The work pattern is part-time and flexible on negotiation with Professor Claire Squires and Professor David Finkelstein and some of the work can be completed remotely; however, the assistant will need to be within commuting distance of Stirling and Edinburgh for project meetings and events.

To apply, please email Professor Claire Squires claire.squires [at] stir.ac.uk with a cv detailing your relevant experience, and a covering email by 14 October 2012. If you require further information, please also contact Claire Squires.

Further Details

RSE Workshop Book Events: The Transnational Culture, Commerce and Social Impact of Literary Festivals

A significant development in the environment of literature and the book at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries has been the growth of literary festivals and book towns. As part of the literary marketing mix, book festivals and towns offer publishers the opportunity to promote their authors and sell their products. Such locations also provide physical and sociological spaces in which readers encounter writers and literature, and become book consumers. Book festivals and towns have clear links to regional economies, and are heavily used in the promotion of tourist destinations, as testified by the strategic partnerships and sponsorship arrangements with a variety of agencies. In the era of new media and digital delivery, the opportunity to meet authors and fellow readers face-to-face, to buy books and other merchandise, and to align a liking for literature with travel and tourism, is being taken up by hundreds of thousands of readers every year. Literary festivals and towns, while heavily promoted by digital marketing activities, afford physical meeting spaces for authors, books, readers and ideas.

The project is funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and is run in association with the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication at the University of Stirling, Queen Margaret University, and Bookfestival Scotland .

Visiting Speakers for Forthcoming Semester

September 15th, 2011 by Frances_Sessford | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speakers for Forthcoming Semester
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Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication hosts another great line-up of publishing professionals this semester. Our guest speakers are drawn from many sectors of the industry, including literary agency, retail, printing, distribution, trade publishing and digital publishing. The visiting speaker sessions give our students valuable knowledge of how different parts of the industry operate. As a highly technology- and consumer-driven industry, publishing is changing at the speed of light and our speakers can give up-to-the-minute insights into both how the industry is adapting to the challenges it faces, and how they as individuals are playing a part in this.

But first things first: how can you go about getting a job once you have your degree? Suzanne Kavanagh of Skillset will provide some guidance and information on this very subject on Thursday September 22. (Please note this session is for Publishing Students only, and will be held at 10.30am, not 2pm.)

The public sessions begin on September 29 with a talk by David Martin of Martins the Printers about how digital printing technology has radically changed the way books are produced. Switching to the other end of the production spectrum, Maggie McKernan, literary editor and agent will give a dual perspective from her career as both an editor and literary agent on October 6. The following week (October 13), Adrian Searle of Glasgow-based publishing imprint Freight Books will be speaking about setting up a publishing company in 2011.

Is there any truth in the suggestion that inside every publisher there is a writer struggling to get out? Well, if that’s the case with you then Dr Paula Morris of Stirling University’s new Creative Writing taught masters course will give you not only the author’s view of the publishing industry but also some tips on getting published as well (October 20).

After we get a chance to catch our breath at the mid-semester break, Jane Camillin of indie sports publisher, Pitch Publishing, will kick off the second half of semester on November 3 by talking about how publishing can be small yet successful, followed on November 10 by Liz Small of Geddes and Grosset/Waverley Publishing, a long-established Scottish trade publisher. Focus then switches to retail on November 17, with Eleanor Logan of Chapter Twenty independent publishing retail consultancy giving the bookseller’s perspective on these interesting times, and our penultimate guest on November 24 is Marion Sinclair, course alumni and Chief Executive of Publishing Scotland, the representative body of Scottish publishers. The program closes on December 1 with Simon Meek of Tern TV on digital adaptations of well-known books.

Don’t miss any of them! Attendance at all visiting speaker sessions is free but there is limited space so please register via publishing@stir.ac.uk to book a place. All sessions will be held at 2pm in Pathfoot B2.

Stirling Book Festival in its Sixth Year

September 7th, 2011 by Frances_Sessford | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Stirling Book Festival in its Sixth Year
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Stirling’s own book festival, Off The Page runs from 10–17 September (see full listings and venues here). Now in its sixth year, Off The Page boasts a fantastic track record of showcasing the rich writing talents of authors and poets from the Stirling area and beyond. The week-long festival is run in partnership with Creative Scotland, the country’s arts investment engine and provides an eclectic mix of speakers, readings, music and exhibitions. And for the first time ever, the festival this year hosts an evening of Gaelic music and storytelling.

Top names coming to show and tell include contemporary novelist Christopher Brookmyre, crime fiction writer Caro Ramsay and travel writer Gavin Francis. One particular highlight (for me anyway) will be The Mental Feast of Pure Delight, an hour in the company of the wonderfully weird Robert Ritchie, Stirling poet and chair of Stirling Writers Group (meets at 7.30pm every Tuesday at The Tolbooth). The event is on at the very silly time of 12 noon but seeing as it’s the day before the course begins (Tuesday September 13), you’ll be free to go along. Another event worth mentioning is the launch of a book in aid of Stirling Mental Health Charity, AiM. Presented by Dunblane’s first lady of poetry, Helen Lamb, accompanied by Alex Nye and Trisha Smith, ‘these gripping tales aim to break down barriers and challenge some of the stigma still associated with mental health.’ So there. And it’s free: Wednesday September 14 at 7.30pm. You can go to the pub to chew over the first day of the course afterwards.

The City Crime Evening features Dumbarton-born and multi-award winning author Stuart MacBride plus Scots journalist Craig Robertson, who has been just about everywhere and done just about everything. Including writing a bestseller. Sheegh.

And last but not least, if you want some early insights into what keeps authors motivated (or if you are harbouring your own dreams of bypassing the slush pile), get along to How To Get Published (Sunday September 11, 1pm)where lots of people who know a thing or two about it will keep you right. Hachette Scotland publisher, Stirling alumni and course visiting speaker Bob McDevitt is chairing the event and would be delighted to meet members of our new cohort. And really, really last, don’t forget the Literary Quiz at The Tolbooth on Friday September 16 at 6pm. Stun your new-found friends with your literary knowledge! Or just sit quietly.

You might bump into some Centre staff at some of the events, and it’s a great chance for new Publishing students to get in a bit of local culture and a few light ales.

André Schiffrin, Visionary Promoter of Independent Media

July 22nd, 2011 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on André Schiffrin, Visionary Promoter of Independent Media
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Andre Schiffrin (photo credit Micheline Pelletier)

Never before has the control of the global conglomerates over the publishing, media and culture industries been under such scrutiny.

With Publishing Scotland, we present an event on Monday 22 August at the Edinburgh International Book Festival which goes to the heart of this debate.

André Schiffrin, the speaker at the event, was the Director of Pantheon Books for almost thirty years, bringing authors including Pasternak and Foucault to an American audience. His landmark 2000 publication The Business of Books expressed his belief that Western publishing was in a crisis, fuelled by the concern that the five largest conglomerates in the US controlled 80% of the books produced. His belief that this profit-driven industry prevented him from publishing books propelled him to resign and set up the non-profit New Press.

In his new book Words and Money, Schiffrin builds on his earlier arguments by focusing on the crisis in the general media, examining the European market to illustrate how the US corporate model has influenced practice worldwide to the detriment of serious journalism. He proposes measures to safeguard the future of publishing, bookselling and the press.

In this timely intervention into conglomerate ownership practices and philosophies, and what can be done to counteract them, Schiffrin will give a presentation and then open the floor to questions from the audience.

For further information and to book your place visit the Edinburgh International Book Festival website.

The event is organised by the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication in association with Publishing Scotland and the Scottish Universities Insight Institute Independent Publishing Programme of Enquiry.