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MLitt 2016/2017

By Its Cover: Suzanne Dean on good cover design

February 27th, 2017 by caroline_obrien | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on By Its Cover: Suzanne Dean on good cover design
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Suzanne Dean, the creative director for Penguin Random House, took the stage at this year’s Scottish Book Trade Conference to tell us all that, against a childhood’s worth of well-intentioned advice, we should, in fact, judge a book By Its Cover. Although much of her advice will be familiar to most of us at Stirling University from our design classes like all good advice it doesn’t hurt being repeated, and there was also much which was new and just as helpful. She was also able to offer an insightful and oftentimes very funny first-hand account of the frustrating, nerve-wracking, but ultimately fulfilling world of book cover design.

Dean was the one responsible for the Vintage logo update and some of her cover designs may be familiar to many of us, especially the work she did for Haruki Murakami’s novel. The simple, yet eye-catching, black white and red circle designs quickly became quintessentially Murakami. But, as any good designer will tell you, break your own rules. Dean certainly did, in an exceptionally well thought out way, by adding colour to Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki.

With quite a hefty bit of experience under her belt Dean is more well-versed than most on what effective design must be. Namely eye-catching, engaging to a reader, and thought provoking. After all, as Dean reminded us, we only have a few seconds in which to catch a browser’s eye and encourage them to pick our book up over all the others. In today’s world where books are increasingly becoming commodities like any others, sold on shelves between groceries and cleaning products, good cover design is more important than ever.

Through her work with Vintage Classics Dean is very well aware of this. Not only are classic books subject to the same fight for attention that new ones are, but they have a further added problem. As Dean asked, how do you convince someone to buy a book that’s probably freely available online?

Dean’s answer was simple.

By making them beautiful and desirable collectable objects.

Dean also found that a cover which hints at the contents receives a better reception than one which spells them out too heavily. Remember, with classics, the potential buyer has probably already read it, or at least is aware of the general plot, and so are more prone to spot and appreciate any little subtleties in the cover which, with a new novel, might only be appreciated after being read.

Of course, even while the contents of these classic books are well-known and familiar to many it is as important, if not more so, to keep the covers fresh and new. With content that has so many past covers it’s important not to become too similar. With their new Vintage Future editions Dean has managed to avoid this very pitfall. Using only a sheet of acetate and some line based designs this set of nine futuristic classics feature animated covers. The bold colours and psychedelic shapes combined with the animated feature and juxtaposed against the classic, black bordered layout perfectly capture the essence of these texts which, although written in the past, were always looking far into the future.

This seems to be a key theme brought by Dean to all her covers. Whilst they vary widely, and are each intricately tailored to suit their contents, there appears to be an emphasis on keeping them relevant, not just to our times but to all times.

But to achieve such beautiful, evocative, and timeless designs there is first a long process which must be traversed. As Dean revealed, one of her covers went through over seventy redesigns before it was finally accepted. It can also be very difficult to read a manuscript with the expectation upon you that a beautifully designed cover will simply emerge fully formed from your head. You must ‘rely upon the spark to happen’ and to keep on happening the next time and the next and the next. You must experiment, and engage with all forms of media. As Dean put it, ‘go out and see things,’ as many things as possible. You never know where inspiration will next come from.

And, most importantly, practice. For designers ‘just like dancers’ must practice before they can create something beautiful.

By Caroline O’Brien

Glasgow’s Historic Literary Societies- Book Week Scotland 2016

November 29th, 2016 by Kanika Praharaj | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Glasgow’s Historic Literary Societies- Book Week Scotland 2016
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For Book Week Scotland, Katharina Dittmann and I decided to nerd our little hearts out. And where did we decide to go, you ask? To the library, of course! Specifically, the beautiful Mitchell Library in Glasgow, where we attended a talk given by Lauren Weiss, a PhD student at our very own University of Stirling.

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The talk started off with a quiz. Needless to say, we now have ample proof that we would not fit into the nineteenth-century literary crowd.

According to Lauren, Glasgow has always been a city of readers and writers. In the 19th century men (and later women) got together to talk about books and reading. A ‘typical’ nineteenth-century literary group would meet up once a week. Reasons for joining a literary group usually had less to do with a love for literature and more to do with networking — networking isn’t just for us publishing students! Becoming a member of one of these groups would enable a young man to meet other people in a new place, people who could help him find a job and a place to live. This does not mean that there wasn’t an emphasis on the act of reading. Members were required to read for at least half an hour every day.

Many such societies had their own manuscript magazines. However, membership to a society wasn’t always needed to contribute to its magazine. These magazines weren’t quite as ‘literary’ as one might imagine. There were a variety of topics that people chose to write about. For example, a more traditional piece of literature like a sonnet could be followed by an essay entitled ‘Ants and Their Ways of Life’. Members weren’t always sticklers when it came to deadlines, making the editor’s job the hardest of all. In fact, the editor would quite often have to include last-minute contributions just as they were. Magazines would21-11-2016 then be passed on from member to member, who would all critique their fellow members’ works.

Between 1800 and 1914 Glasgow had at least 140 literary societies — less than ten of those are still running. A dismal figure until one thinks of all the reading groups (read: with wine) that people are a part of in today’s Glasgow. Reading is still a big part of the culture there, just in slightly different forms.

At the end of the talk, Dr Irene O Brien, Senior Archivist, and Patricia Grant, Library Collections Manager, spoke to us about the Mitchell’s unique collections. Fascinated by the wonders that the Mitchell holds within itself, we completely forgot what time it was and almost missed our train!

by Kanika Praharaj

A Day in the Life of a Publishing Student – 17th November edition

November 18th, 2016 by barbora_kuntova | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on A Day in the Life of a Publishing Student – 17th November edition
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Here at the University of Stirling, they like to keep us busy. And when it’s not our course keeping us busy, it’s all the exciting events that are going on around Scotland that we really want to attend. Here’s a look at what a random day looks like when you’re a publishing student.

6:30 am – first alarm clock goes off – slide to turn off

6:45 am – second alarm clock goes off – slide to turn off

7:00 am – third alarm clock goes off – slide to turn off, though now I can actually see something resembling light outside

7:30 am – the alarm clock goes off for the fourth time this morning, slide to turn off

8:00 am – oh well, okay then… time to get up and do this thing called adulting

8:30 am – a jumbo sized coffee and Nielsen – living the dream

9:45 am – time for another coffee, this time Christmas edition (it’s never too early for Christmas drinks)

10:00 am – lecture time

11:10 am – group work – never does a day go by without at least one

12:30 pm – time to catch up on emails and assignments; but at least the view is good

1:00 pm – lunch time – the Student Union is affordable, though not the healthiest – but we need all the unhealthy food we can get to keep us going

2:00 pm – reading time in the library!

3:00 pm – our favourite part of the week – visiting speaker (and coffee), this week we’re very lucky to have the author Liam Murray Bell

3:30 pm – we are adults but we also love being read to, so it is story time!

3:35 pm – tweeting is basically our full time job

5:15 pm – we the publishing peeps are on our way to the SYP Scotland Freelancing 101 event.. and what better way to spend the train ride than reading/tweeting?

6:40 pm – the panel is on, so take notes!

8:12 pm – night night, Edinburgh

10:00 pm – 1:00 am – bed time varies, depending on who’s all caught up with their uni work and who’s not – also, Netflix is an important variable in this formula

Barb Kuntova

 

Yun HAO, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17

November 14th, 2016 by Yun HAO | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Yun HAO, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17
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I was born in a small city beside the East China Sea, grew up in Beijing, went to university in Hong Kong, and finally came to Stirling in the UK. This is me, Yun HAO, a Chinese girl with a mixed culture background, having a broad range of interests and always being curious about the world. I love literature, art, anime, and stargazing. I am very interested in politics, history, philosophy, nature and business. I just love to explore and experience new worlds. This strong curiosity about the world and my abundant hobbies may be the start of my interest in publishing industry. Too many interesting things are waiting for us to explore, and that’s precisely the reason why we need books.

My undergraduate major was Government and International Politics. Thanks to the subject, I’ve accumulated some knowledge of social science, which may be a good foundation for me to work with publishers in the field. The subject, however, also made me realize that it is no use for me to think and talk about empty ideas only. To better realize the value of my life, I shall be devoted to a more practical cause for the sake of people’s happiness. The publishing industry fits me best, I believe, since I am patient, careful, passionate, and have a sound knowledge of social science and can write essays in Chinese well. What’s more, I am a person who believes in the value of culture.

I’m very happy to study at the University of Stirling and regard it as the first step to the publishing industry. I  treasure this precious opportunity and am determined to learn as much as I can, so as to reinvigorate publishing industry in China as a qualified editor with the knowledge and experiences of the West’s publishing industry. China’s publishing industry is facing significant challenges from the new technology and new business models, but I believe that the challenge can be both threats and opportunities. My life will be meaningful if I am a part of the effort to successfully transfer the challenge into opportunities, even if a tiny part.

Soraya Belkhiria, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17

October 17th, 2016 by Soraya Belkhiria | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Soraya Belkhiria, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17
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photo-du-08-10-2016-a-13-02My name is Soraya Désirée Belkhiria, I am 3/4 French and 1/4 Tunisian. I was born in Paris and was lucky to grow up in Versailles, in a street that leads straight to the Palace’s park.

I remember being intrigued by books before I could even read, and they have always been very integrated into my everyday life. As a child I was a fervent adept of replaying the story lines from Dumas or Hugo novels with my toys. My collection of books grew as I did, and is perpetually being reorganized and on the verge of chaos at the same time.

I’ve been a very busy student. After two years in preparatory classes, which is a kind of French torture device composed of Latin, philosophy, literature, Greek and 6 hours dissertations every Saturday morning among other things, I graduated in French literature at the university of Paris Diderot (Paris VII). I have also had a very nice time studying for my second bachelor in Korean Language, Literature and Civilisation at the INALCO (National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations).

I have very varied interests and like mixing things that don’t go well together in an obvious way, like playing hip hop music while reading Sade, or running while listening to an audiobook of one of Corneille’s plays. So it’s quite naturally that I chose comparative literature for my research master, which last for two years in France. During my first year I wrote about the autodiegetic narrative as a mean of exploring one’s inwardness and building personality in The Devil in the Flesh by Raymond Radiguet and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. During the second one I undertook a bigger research project as I wrote about the exhibition of the psyche in William S. Burroughs and Jean Genet’s novels. For me books are a really special medium because they favour insubordination and independent thinking in a way that no other can, from reading with a lamp torch underneath your bed sheets to being able to experience the writing of jailed criminals or morphine junkies.

One thing I enjoyed quite a lot during my time at the university was reviewing my peers’ academic work, to help them articulate their ideas and structure their work in a way that would make it an enjoyable read for non specialists of their subject. This was particularly true concerning dissertations written by INALCO students, because one of the goals of this institute is to make knowledge about distant cultures available and understandable in Europe. So I came to Stirling University to study publishing with the idea of becoming an editor, but in just a few short weeks I discovered that there is a lot more to making books and I decided to use this year to explore all the fascinating aspects there is to it before choosing a career. I’m also very glad to be in Scotland, and to be able to enjoy a campus that feels like a breath of fresh air compared to a busy city like Paris!

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Elina Kyriazi-Perri, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17

October 16th, 2016 by evangelia_kyriazi-perri | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Elina Kyriazi-Perri, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17
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Describing myself was always hard to do, so please bear with me! My name is Elina, coming from sunny Greece to follow my dream to become a …? This is what I’m hoping to find out through the MLitt Publishing course in the mostly cloudy and beautiful Stirling. There is one thing I’m absolutely positive about: Since I can remember, I’ve always had a passion for English language and Literature.

When I graduated from the University of Athens, holding a degree in English Literature, everybody was expecting me to become a teacher. Deep down, I knew I had to follow a different path and pursue publishing as a career option. After the course, I aspire to find my place in the industry either in the editorial or publicity department; however, almost a month on the course now and I’ve decided to keep an open mind and explore other publishing areas too. I’m very excited about what the program has to offer and I’m ready to apply all the valuable knowledge we are going to get to achieve a successful career.

In case you’re interested to learn more things about me, apart from my future plans, keep reading!

I would describe myself as a food and travel enthusiast, constantly taking pictures of everything, from food to landscapes. Also, I’ve recently started a lifestyle blog, in which I include mostly recipes, beauty and food reviews. You can follow me on social media to see what I’m up to especially Instagram: @eline_themermaid and Twitter: @elinek_93

Thank you for your time and I wish we all have a great year, full of unique experiences and memories!

 

 

 

 

Caroline O’Brien, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17

September 30th, 2016 by caroline_obrien | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Caroline O’Brien, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17
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13509093_1424480517565979_6273719872238790256_nmOn a dark and stormy night in Glasgow two fourth year undergrad English Literature students arranged a covert meeting at the student union. As the rain beat down on the windows all was going well until one turned to the other and asked the dreaded question.

‘So, what are you planning on doing after we graduate?’

Anyway, that’s the story of how my wonderful friend, Chiara, came to tell me about the University of Stirling’s MLitt in Publishing course. As it turned out it was one of the most serendipitous moments of my life. I knew going into my English Literature course at the University of Glasgow that I wanted to somehow get into publishing, but, as is so often the case when students are faced with the looming prospect of graduation and actually having to take part in normal adult life afterwards, I had no idea of how to do it.

Therefore, doing my masters at the University of Stirling served a twofold purpose. I would gain some concrete knowledge of what a publisher actually is and what they do. (Meaning that when asked these questions I can come up with a better answer then, ‘You know, someone that says what books are good…’) And I would be able to defer the terrifying prospect of a job search one more year.

Having said that, since the first lecture in my new course my publishing dreams have proven themselves founded on a strong basis. I now cannot wait to find my own place in the publishing industry, either here in Scotland or, possibly if I’m lucky, abroad.

But enough about this course and how great it is. Now for the really interesting stuff.

Me.

I was born in England, near London, and moved to Scotland when I was nine. This has resulted in a somewhat confused but, I hope, endearing accent that has on more than one occasion been mistaken for Australian. I now hail from Lanark where I’ve lived for the past twelve years or so with my parents and my two sisters. I of course adore books, something that I have my parents to thank for since they took the time to read to me every night when I was young.

This is the reason I am most interested in Children’s publishing. If I could bring even one child the same sense of joy that I got from settling down for a bedtime story with my parents then I’d be happy.

But now I’ve started to get soppy so I’m going to leave it there. Thanks for reading and hope I didn’t bore anyone. If I did, look on the bright side. You’ve made it to the end now.