Publishing Scotland

MLitt Publishing Studies students visit BookSource distributors in Glasgow

October 9th, 2013 by Clemence Moulaert | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on MLitt Publishing Studies students visit BookSource distributors in Glasgow
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You walk into a bookshop (if you still do that sort of thing), you pick up a book that looks interesting; with a bounce in your step, you take it to the till, you buy it; you take it home and disappear into it for a few hours. A delightful experience — but do you ever wonder about the journey that book has taken to get to you?

Before it gets to the bookshop it goes through a distributor, a step most readers will not be familiar with. The postgraduate students on the current MLitt Publishing Studies programme recently visited BookSource in Glasgow to learn more about the distribution process, to visit the warehouse and find out how this book distributor is coping in our troubled industry.

BookSource, one of the UK’s foremost book distributors for independent publishers, has existed since 1995 and thrived since then — up until the digital revolution and Amazon, that is.  These last two factors mean that the distribution step is no longer as important as it used to be, and in the future might even be obsolete.

The staff at BookSource are well aware of the dangers facing their business. Managing information is key to their survival: they must be on top of the latest innovations at all times and re-imagine their business strategy in order to remain a fierce competitor on the market. Tapping into the digital book distribution market is a big part of their new business plan. Nevertheless, they are aware of the limitations: ‘I think it will be a sad, sad day when we start making children’s e-books,’ says Davinder Bedi, director, managing director at BookSource.


Davinder believes that Scottish Independence is another threat looming on the horizon. With borders possibly closing off a huge market for BookSource, their business may not survive at all. Publishers like being physically close their books—if Scotland becomes a country on its own, who is to say that British publishers will want to do business outside of their country? Davinder is pessimistic: he doesn’t think the Scottish market is big enough to survive on its own.

Where will BookSource stand in five years’ time — will it even stand at all? Will the warehouse close down or will it be unrecognisable, totally adapted to a wholly changed industry? One thing is for sure: BookSource is determined to try and re-invent themselves before throwing in the towel. The publishing industry must take example from BookSource: we must be perceptive, inventive, and most of all ruthless visionaries to thrive in the digital age.

Saltire Society Publisher of the Year

August 24th, 2013 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Saltire Society Publisher of the Year
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Yesterday at the Publishing Scotland reception at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the winner of the inaugural Saltire Society Publisher of the Year award was made to Saraband Books by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs. Our Director, Professor Claire Squires, was one of the judges for the award.

The judges said Saraband, a small Glasgow-based publisher run by Sara Hunt, ‘is a company that has shown shrewd and strategic business thinking in a shifting context. They are collaborative, innovative and are distinguished by fresh thinking in their use of digital technology. Their move to new approaches still has the interest of authors at its heart.’

Floris Books of Edinburgh was also commended for its work in publishing children’s books. The full shortlist also included BackPage Press, Barrington Stoke, Edinburgh University Press, and Freight Books. The award is administered by the Saltire Society, with support from Creative Scotland and Publishing Scotland. Further details of the award were reported by The Bookseller.

Over the past year we have had students interning at both Saraband and Floris Books, as well as some of the other shortlisted publishers. We are also very pleased that Sara Hunt will be coming in to speak to our students in the forthcoming semester.


Saltire Society Publisher of the Year Award Shortlist

August 13th, 2013 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Saltire Society Publisher of the Year Award Shortlist
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The Saltire Society Publisher of the Year Award has announced its inaugural shortlist, which features BackPage Press, Barrington Stoke, Edinburgh University Press, Floris Books, Freight Books, and Saraband Books.

The Saltire Society comments that the shortlist ‘exemplifies the dynamic and ground breaking work being done by Scottish publishers to engage new readers and take on new challenges, making sure Scottish publishing stand out both nationally and internationally. The mixture of SMEs and larger more established enterprises show how Scottish publishers are making bold and imaginative work in a changing world of publishing, irrespective of their size, age or the pressure to continue on with established working methods.’

Professor Claire Squires, Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication has been one of the judges for the inaugural award. The winner will be announced later this month at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The full press release is available from the Saltire Society website.

Publishing Showcase 2013

April 24th, 2013 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | 1 Comment
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It’s already the end of another year!

Only a moment ago, our 2012-13 cohort of 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 Thursday 2 May by showcasing their work from the Publishing Project. There also be invited guests from our Industry Advisory Board speaking on a panel on the state of the publishing industry.

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

3.15-4.45 Industry Advisory Board panel discussion (including Katy Lockwood-Holmes of Floris, Adrian Searle of Freight Books, Marion Sinclair of Publishing Scotland, Christoph Chesher of Taylor & Francis). Pathfoot B2

5pm onwards Publishing Showcase and Drinks Reception. Pathfoot Crush Hall.



Publishing Scotland Conference 2013

March 22nd, 2013 by Emily Ferro | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Scotland Conference 2013
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University of Stirling Publishing students with a guest from Edinburgh Napier's Publishing program. Image credit to Publishing Scotland and Sandy Young Photography

On March 4, 2013 I attended the Publishing Scotland conference at the COSLA Conference Centre in Edinburgh with some of my classmates. It was an exciting experience to attend a conference with nearly 200 book publishers, booksellers, and other students to discuss some of the pressing matters in the industry. In addition to hearing from keynote speaker John Gordon Sinclair, who entertained the audience with his anecdotes, observing the trends in the market by Bowker, and learning the “20 Irrefutable Theories of Book Cover Design”, two aspects of the conference stuck out as quite memorable to me.

There are a few questions that are circulating in the air that everyone involved in publishing is asking. One of the big ones is where the high street book market is headed. We heard from a panel with representatives from both publishers and booksellers, and there was a unanimous agreement that things are certainly changing. Bob Kelly from Gardner’s Books made the point that bookshops have been changing since the introduction of book sales in supermarkets in the 1960s. He also believes that although there has been constant change, the current change to the bookshops is the largest we’ve seen.

The panel came to a few conclusions about high street bookshops. The first, suggested by Kelly, is that booksellers need to be a cultural hub in the community, and a place where people can come together to learn and share. Along the same lines, Neil Best from Waterstone’s suggests that bookshops need to offer something better than the easy, lazy online experience. David Prescott from Blackwell’s added that there is room for both online shops and high street shops, we just need to give customers a reason to visit and revisit shops.

The most influential comment made during the debate was that there is a disconnect between what people say they want and what they are buying. This is a good way of voicing what the recent sales statistics are showing. I have not personally heard anyone say that they want bookshops to close and for all sales to be made online, and that the suggestion is outrageous, sales still move more and more to online outlets. Even as a publishing student, the ease of use for online book buying is attractive, so it’s not so hard for me to believe that customers without knowledge of the struggling industry buy online without a second thought. There needs to be a more conscious effort to protect what we want, and if what we want is high street bookshops, then that is where we need to shop.

The second aspect of the conference that really struck me was the talk given by Lindsay Mooney from Kobo. I found this particularly interesting because although she was discussing pricing strategies for selling e-books, Mooney was also discussing the interactive advantages available with a Kobo e-reader. While there are benefits to having interactivity with reading apps for tablets, I find that the amount of interactive features available with the kobo may be taking things a step to far. While reading an e-book on the Kobo, any reader can see comments made by other readers and commentary by the author; they can highlight, tweet, and share to their newsfeed exactly where they are in the book, and tell friends whether or not the book is a worthwhile read. While I can see the value in this from a marketing standpoint, isn’t it more valuable to appreciate the book as just a book and not an opportunity to market every sentence? To me, reading should not come with so much noise. Perhaps I am just being traditional and stubborn, but personally if I want to share a book, I will tell my friends about it when I am finished and watch author interviews online in my downtime.

At the very end of the conference, the students at the conference were gathered together and had an opportunity to speak to a panel about any questions we have about the industry and suggestions for finding our way in upon graduation. It was a very useful session at the conference and I am grateful for it. Attending the conference was enlightening as a whole and a wonderful experience. A day well spent.

Publishing Scotland’s Marion Sinclair – A Talk of Success

September 20th, 2012 by Sara_Gardiner | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Scotland’s Marion Sinclair – A Talk of Success
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Marion graduated the Publishing Studies course at the University of Stirling in the 1980’s. Marion believes that a degree in publishing is useful to have and puts us in good stead for a career in the industry.

Marion Sinclair works for Publishing Scotland whose job it is to promote and support Scottish publishers; these companies may be small, but ‘great books can come out of a one-person company.’ Marion has taken on the task of making Publishing Scotland relevant to their members by supplying outlines of what the publishing industry needs to succeed. There are over 100 active publishing companies in Scotland and most are currently small and medium enterprises; anyone can set themselves up to be a publisher.

Scottish writing has seen a renaissance in the past ten years with writer who have an international following. Alexander McCall Smith, is one example of a flag bearer for Scottish publishing. Scotland in particular has a publishing industry which is more than 500 years old, but in need of new thinking. Over the next two years Publishing Scotland wants to be able to aid companies in development of e-books and web design; they are putting the spotlight on what the independent publishers need.

As such, it is an organization of which Stirling University is a part. Their aim is to cultivate contacts and develop parts of the infrastructure of the media industry. Publishing Scotland’s core activities are:

  • Fulfilling training gaps
  • Information and support
  • Taking publishers to book fairs in London and Frankfurt

Graduates need to have creative and commercial abilities, business sense and be numerate; they need to think beyond being an employee. It has never been easier to set up your own publishing company, so why not think about setting up your own business?

Publishing Scotland holds an annual conference, which members may attend in order to meet new people who already work in the industry. Students may offer to do placement work for a company to begin to get your face known within the industry. Publishing Scotland will help students to find work or a work placement; the best way to get a job is to annoy people at events!

When applying for a job in the publishing industry, potential employers may receive up to 75 CV’s from potential candidates. Of these, the candidates with a publishing degree will be more likely to be picked for interview.

A big thank you to Marion for the talk today with all of the useful hints and tips!

– Sara Gardiner

These books fall like dominoes

April 20th, 2012 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on These books fall like dominoes
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World Book Night is coming, and so is a giant domino chain of books!

In honour of World Book Night, and to celebrate the 30th birthday of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, we will be setting up and knocking down the biggest book domino chain ever to grace the halls of the Pathfoot building at the University of Stirling. The event will be on Monday April 23rd 2012 (of course) between 4 and 4.30pm in the Pathfoot Crush Hall, and we invite you all to come and watch us knock a bunch of books over in a very organised, harmless (to the books) way.

We’d like to give a huge thank you to our contributors for the generous donations and support from publishers, libraries, book trade and reading development organisations, book binders and authors: Floris BooksStirling LibrariesAlban BooksCargo PublishingFreight BooksPublishing ScotlandLinda Cracknell of Best Book BooksBlasted Heath, Hazell Designs BooksCraig RobertsonAlloa Library, The Gaelic Books CouncilReadathon, Saraband Books and Canongate.

If you would like to participate, please email: You can also follow our exploits on Twitter via @stirpublishing and the hashtag #stirbkdominoes

– Alicia Rice

London Book Fair 30th birthday party with Publishing Scotland

April 3rd, 2012 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | 2 Comments
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The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication was founded in 1982, and so 2012 marks our 30th anniversary.

To celebrate our birthday, we’ve got a number of events planned.

The first takes place at the London Book Fair, where we’ll be joining with Publishing Scotland in the Isle of Arran whisky party. This takes place on Tuesday 17 April from 5.30pm on the Publishers from Scotland stand, H350. Please join us!

If you can’t make the party, please do drop by the stand and say hello or leave us a message, or come to one of our other events at Stirling: the World Book Night Book Dominoes on Monday 23 April, or our Publishing Showcase and Alumni Drinks Reception on Thursday 3 May.

Alternatively, if you can’t join us for any of those, please do join us on our social media (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). And if you’re one of our alumni, please do consider writing us an alumni profile for our website.

Publishing Scotland Conference 2012

April 2nd, 2012 by Sara_Gardiner | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Scotland Conference 2012
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I have never been to a conference before and I would definitely go to one again.

The day began with an introduction from Bob McDevitt and Marion Sinclair explaining how, as publishers, we should be able to adapt to the new digital world by having more direct contact with customers and physical bookstores. The aim of the publisher is not to challenge the age of the author but to challenge the price point of e-books and to get more people reading.

Alan Clements, Director of Content for STV reiterated Marion’s speech, acknowledging that the media industry should have more focus on content and accountability to their customers. So what does this mean for media and culture when each person may be looking at three screens in one sitting? Alan stated that working with technology and not against it is the key to controlling IP and sustaining the media industry we work in. He then candidly discussed the lack of communication between the publishing industry and TV, believing that if both industries work together on the adaptations of new books, it would give Scotland a place on the map.

Next to speak was Steve Bohme, Research Director from BML. He showed the conference, through the analogy of weddings, how the publishing industry is coping with the downward trend in print books for the third year running. Steve questioned how the role of the designer will change with the popularity of the e-book, and how the e-book effect will change the way in which it affects the publishing industries sales.

Discussing social media and marketing, Jon Reed, Social Media Consultant spoke of the effects social media marketing has on the selling of a product and exposure of a company (follow him on Twitter @reedmedia). Jon Reed is the founder of Publishing Talk, giving hints and tips on the best ways to market your company and/or product. He discussed how the social media buzz should revolve around the product and build interest in the niche area; to support social media, companies should still continue to e-mail their customers.

Jon also said that authors should be trained in using social media to promote their novels and to update their own profiles and if training cannot be given, guidelines will then become useful to the author. Included in the author questionnaires, should be the question regarding the authors current social media use, in order to increase author visibility. Through social media networks, content should be made valuable by giving away free information on the author/novel or company. The ultimate goal as a publisher is to add value to a novel while also supporting their authors.

Author Nicola Morgan then spoke about author/publisher relationships along with the (lack of, in her case) communication between the two. Nicola made the point of authors being the last to hear about changes to their work; what Nicola insisted on in a business relationship was honesty. Her response to being dropped by her publishing company was to consider self publishing, however, as she discovered during the self publishing process, this then eats away at the time the author has left to write new material.

The speakers at the conference were all so passionate about their area of work within the publishing industry, and also believe that the industry will be able to adapt to new media in the future, but finding the right ideas for this is the key.  The Publishing Scotland conference showcased many intelligent, passionate and enthusiastic people with many opposing ideas.

We love books. And domino chains.

March 13th, 2012 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | 2 Comments
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To celebrate World Book Night, a group of us at the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication have decided to hold a book dominoes event* on April 23rd. The goal is to create the biggest book dominoes event possible, promoting a love of reading, Scottish literature, and Scottish Publishing. Of course, to achieve this lofty goal we need your book donations! We’re looking for any donations, great and small, and we are willing to pick them up by car if necessary. However, they do need to be able to stand up, fall over, and knock other books over. A strange way of judging literature, but there you go…

We’ve already had pledges of books from Alban Books, Cargo Publishing, Freight Books, the Gaelic Books CouncilPublishing ScotlandSaraband Books, and Stirling Libraries (thank you!). Blasted Heath are going to see if they can make their ebooks stand up for us! (Though we think p-books probably win here…)

If you would like to participate, please email: You can also follow our exploits on Twitter via @stirpublishing and the hashtag #stirbkdominoes

We will release details of the event itself closer to the time. If you’d like to come and watch, contact us via the email above.

*We love books, and we promise to love your books, too. No books will be harmed in the making of this event and loaned books will be returned to their respective owners.

– Alicia Rice