http://www.lebenssalz.ch http://www.paulplaza.nl http://www.ostendsurfing.be http://www.qsneaker.nl http://www.wtcbentille.be http://www.thegooddeal.ch http://www.kantoorencreatief.nl

publishing studies

In praise of serendipity

December 16th, 2016 by morven_gow | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on In praise of serendipity
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img_2140In praise of serendipity

Over this semester, we have all enjoyed learning at the collective knees of visiting speakers. They have represented all sectors of the publishing industry – bar one.  Best represented by the chaotic, Bernard Black of Channel 4 TV’s Black Books I confess a deep and abiding love for the mostly unkempt and tatty world of the preloved book.  Every place associated with a book is sacred and has the air of a temple. For me, there is no other book buying experience to top the emotional pull of a second-hand bookshop.

Crossing the hallowed threshold, it’s best to be in a state of mindfulness – open to the calls and vibrations coming your way from the waifs and strays on shelves, on tables or piled high in columns around you.  “What a load of tosh!” I can hear some of you cry out.  But others will agree with me.

You will discover exactly the book you didn’t know you needed or wanted on that day and at that time you ambled into the shop.  We behave quite differently depending on the reading material we require at any one time and, while a bricks/clicks-and mortar bookshop, or Amazon and others, can supply you with exactly what you know you want, their book shelf categories and algorithms cannot hope to compete with the happy discoveries which occur when the infinite random variables in your brain meet the ideas and thoughts bounding off the shelves, tables and columns.

If you are concerned about the ‘dark’, second-hand book economy, with authors, publishers and agents missing out on remuneration, as long as you remember to sing the praises of the books on sites like Goodreads, you will be playing your part in the book selling process, encouraging others to buy and read the books. You may even replace the preloved one with a new copy, if it’s a bit too tatty and it’s captured your heart.  In the photograph, there are some titles which called to me from shelves in Wigtown, Galloway; Arklow, Wicklow; Glasgow and Dunlop.  They have found their ‘forever home’ with me.

Go on.  Find your local ‘Black Books’. Bernard may even have a glass of wine waiting for you.

By Morven Gow

On PhD Research and Longselling Books

November 24th, 2016 by Helena Markou | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on On PhD Research and Longselling Books
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One year into my PhD exploring the sales life of contemporary trade non-fiction books and I still feel like I am just scratching the surface of my topic. So what is life as a researcher like? On a day-to-day basis I divide my time between:

  • immersion in my subject area – reading journals articles and scholarly publication to keep up with innovations in the fields of publishing studies, literary studies, and the broader fields of cultural studies and digital humanities.
  • writing – ranging from annotated bibliography entries, notes made at events, results and findings of my research and data analysis, or blog posts like this one. The important thing is to write often.
  • wrangling sales data – using a combination of familiar tools and techniques such as vlookup in Excel, box plots in SPSS, or tools that are new to me such as big data analytics using python and weka.
  • skills training – living half way between Glasgow and Edinburgh allows me to take advantage of many events organised within my own institution, University of Stirling, or the other institutions that make up the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities.

But why study the sales life of books at all? Well because the UK produces huge quantities of books. It has the highest per capita output in the world and the third highest number of new and revised titles published each year (behind China and the USA). This number of new and revised titles has risen steadily since the end of the Second World War from an almost standing start of 6,000 new titles in 1943 to over 200k in 2015.

Graph: Volume of New and Revised Titles Published in UK by Year

Graph: Volume of New and Revised Titles Published in UK by Year

[Various Sources: Bookfacts, Nielsen BookScan, Publishers Association (2016)]

These statistics alone invite many questions: who is writing all these books? How many more people are involved in the design and refining of these products? How and why does the machinery of publishing manufacture and distribute at such a vast scale? However, my research is more interested in the next stages of the supply chain. What happens when these new titles are added to those already in print; the millions of titles which make up UK publishers’ back catalogues known as the backlist? How are all these books, both new and established, squeezed into bookshops (physical or otherwise)? How are they merchandised and sold? How long is the window of opportunity for them to succeed or fail? What does success look like in modern bookselling terms – and which authors and titles have achieved this? In the so-called age of abundance, which books have persistent sales and why?

My research objectives are ambitious (or so I’ve been told); to quantify the average sales life of non-fiction titles by subject category, identify longselling titles that have remained relevant to the UK book buying population over long time period, then explore the qualities, and cultural significance of some of these books via case studies.

An example of a longseller from one of the slowest selling bookshop categories,   “Music and Dance”, is The Inner Game of Music by Timothy Gallwey and Barry Green. Originally published in 1986, this book is not the bestselling title in its class (that would be the BBC Proms Official Guide), but it is one of the few titles that appear in the top 5000 physical book sales charts for both 2001 and 2015.

Ranked 54th in the category of Music & Dance in 2001, it sold just under 2000 units and continued to rank in 312th position in 2015 with a modest 500 units sold in that year. Clearly, the sales for this title are declining, however three decades of bookshop sales is a noteworthy achievement and warrants a closer look.

Scrutinising the quantitative data alone provides some clues that The Inner Game of Music might be atypical for a book about music. It is certainly not a beginner’s guide to guitar, or piano, as are most of the other longselling titles within Music and Dance. However, the next step in the research journey is to explore the historical and commercial context for this book’s success and the opinions of its readership.

Initial investigation uncovers that the “inner game”, as a concept, was not originally developed for musicians. It is a spin-off from Gallwey’s NYT bestseller The Inner Game of Tennis, a book which teaches tennis players to improve their practice through awareness of psychological barriers, removal of self-doubt, and correction of bad habits.   This philosophy is something Gallwey adapted and applied to other walks of life (golf, work, stress and music). He appears to have made a successful career out this brand through consultancy, public speaking and book sales. The Inner Game of Music also appears frequently on university reading lists, lending some academic weight to its commercial popularity.

This looks like a promising start for a case study, offering up a number of avenues for further research. How do readers discuss the book via online reviews? How is the book is positioned and sold within general and specialist bookshops; What is the impact of proactive and consistent marketing of the book by the author? Is self-improvement a common theme within longselling books?

All these questions demand answers, provoke my curiosity and spur me on to continue researching longselling books. And on that note, I guess I had better finish procrastinating via this blog article and get back to the PhD.

 

Helena Markou’s professional career spans publishing, bookselling and digital consultancy.  Within her academic career she has lectured in Publishing at Oxford Brookes University and Digital Book History at the School of Advanced Studies, University of London. She is in her 2nd year of an AHRC funded PhD at University of Stirling. You can follow her online @helena_markou

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

 

Vintage Books Reveal Newly Designed Russian Classics

November 17th, 2016 by therese_campbell | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Vintage Books Reveal Newly Designed Russian Classics
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With autumn slowly passing and the winter months soon upon us, curling up with an old classic, by the warmth of a roaring fire – or only-slightly-working radiator if you’re a student – is the perfect way to end a cold and dreary evening.

The Vintage Russian Collection
With these winter evenings in mind, Vintage Books have recently revealed on Facebook and Twitter, a series of newly designed Russian classics. To mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the series will be released in January, 2017, and will include six texts by authors such as Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Mikhail Bulgakov. Readers will be given the chance to delve into post and pre-revolutionary Russia once more with these exquisitely designed books.

In an interview with Waterstones, Suzanne Dean, Creative Director at Vintage, discussed her inspiration for the books unique covers. She explained that while republishing classical texts was tricky – there are so many editions already available – her aim was to create a series that readers would ‘cherish, collect and keep.’ She wanted to give each novel a contemporary twist whilst also conveying the era in which they were written. A mesh of different patterns can be found on each cover, with some being taken from and inspired by traditional Russian dress. The different tones of red used on each book give them all an individuality while simultaneously bringing a unity to the collection.

The intention to ‘evoke the essence of each novel’ in their design certainly comes through and each carefully considered colour and pattern breathes new life into these timeless classics. Any true book-lover would be proud to have this beautifully designed series as part of their collection.

Waterstones is currently the only bookshop to stock the series and all six books can be pre-ordered before their general release in January.

by Therese Campbell

Visiting Speaker – Kathryn Ross

November 11th, 2016 by rachel_kay | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker – Kathryn Ross
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Last Thursday, our publishing class had the privilege of spending a few hours with literary agent Kathryn Ross. Alongside Lindsey Fraser, Kathryn runs Fraser Ross Associates Literary Agency and Consultancy (www.fraserross.co.uk), which the pair established in 2002.

logoKathryn didn’t take the traditional route to becoming a literary agent. She began as a secondary school English teacher, overseeing the school library, and eventually collaborating with the department head to set up a mobile bookstore in a van. When this venture did well, she left teaching and got a position running the children’s tent at the Edinburgh Book Festival, afterwards moving on to work at the Scottish Book Trust. Kathryn spent ten years here, where she met Lindsey and built up a long list of author and publishing contacts. Finally, with the encouragement of author Vivian French, the pair took the leap of setting up their own literary agency with Vivian as their first client.

Fourteen years down the line, she says her job is hard work, hugely rewarding (emotionally, although not always financially), and that she gets a lot of joy from seeing authors set off, and in helping them grow their careers. Fraser Ross Associates now represents about sixty-five writers and illustrators, most of whom work in children’s fiction (although some write across all age ranges and genres).

booksWriting for children is challenging. There’s a lot to accomplish in a short format, including fleshing out the characterisation, problems, and emotions that form a complete story. Children’s books must be equally appealing to parents- these are the buyers, and the ones who will be reading the book over and over. Children’s authors need to be good at summing up and pitching their content, and are now expected to do more marketing and publicity than ever before. An author’s success has increasingly come to depend on things like doing events and getting positive online reviews.

Agents are integral within this process, acting as sounding boards, cheerleaders, and business advisers to an author. This includes ideas development, networking, brand-building, and actively pursuing sub-rights. When taking clients on board, Kathryn and Lindsay look for long-term partnerships, where the content and the personalities both fit. Good communication is essential, as are trust, openness, and honesty, as everyone needs to be able to talk through ideas and problems.

Authors / illustrators and literary agents are often recommended to each other, one of the reasons that networking is vital. Kathryn and Lindsey also seek out new talent, such as by attending end-of-year college art shows. On top of this, they receive unsolicited manuscripts, about 200 per month. Many of these come via email, and Kathryn says she misses the physicality of receiving packages in the post- although she doesn’t miss the occasional extras, like glitter stars, crushed biscuits, melted toffees, etc. Kathryn has gotten some extremely creative submissions over the years, and was able to give us extensive, and often hilarious advice on what not to do, including why penguins and polar bear must never meet.

Each ‘day in the life’ of a literary agent is different, but typical tasks include:

  • Reminding publishers to pay invoices
  • Checking/negotiating contracts
  • Polishing submissions before they’re sent to editors – lots of editing!
  • Meeting with publishers, especially in London
  • Pushing for better royalties for her clients
  • Reading Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and The Bookseller
  • Attending launch parties
  • Negotiating permissions fees
  • Talking authors through outlines, edits, and cover design
  • Giving advice to cold callers
  • Informing authors of success / rejection
  • Discussing deadlines, delays, relationship problems, moving house, etc. with clients
  • Paying authors
  • Submitting manuscripts
  • Sending congratulations cards of all types
  • Reading unsolicited submissions
  • Attending book fairs, especially Bologna
  • Reading, reading, reading, reading, reading, reading, … and emails.

Many thanks to Kathryn for sharing her time with us, and for bringing back the nostalgia of story time for us Masters students!

Ruoqi Sun, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17

November 10th, 2016 by ruoqi_sun | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Ruoqi Sun, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17
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img_8321Hi, I am Ruoqi Sun, and I come from China. You can call me Ricky, although I realized this is not a female’s name since I came here. Anyway, the pronunciation is very similar with my Chinese name and that is the reason why I choose this, just for convenience. I lived in Beijing before I came here, and that is a totally different place with here. It is crowded, busy and has many opportunities, and we described it as a place where you can make money no matter what you do. It is a good place to enjoy life but not a good place to live.

Speaking of my major, my undergraduate degree was in Editing and Publishing. I didn’t even know about it until I was in college. Like most of Chinese students, I focused on my study all the time in high school in order to pass the final exam and go to the college.  Then I began to get confused when I received the admission, as I had achieved the goal of learning and I did not know what to do next. So I had a colorful university life: participating in clubs, making friends, and doing part- jobs. I did all the things I could think of, except learning, until the third year in my university, when everybody began to prepare for work or apply for a postgraduate course. I realized that my four-year life was about to pass. I began to want to plan the future carefully and I also found some internships related to publishing in traditional press in China. After the internship, I found that there are some problems in traditional publishing, but I can not change. I do not like this feeling. I think it was probably at that time that I began to enjoy reading.

It was also at that time I saw the cooperation project of University of Stirling and our  university. I took the IELTS exam, prepared the application materials, and tried my best to apply for this opportunity to continue my studies. Some of my friends said I was escaping the reality of graduation, I think it is better to say that I am not reconciled to end my campus life in this way. Fortunately, I got this chance and I came here at the beginning of August, which is a beautiful season for Stirling.

Now, I cherish and enjoy my life and class time here. Although I am not adapt to the model of our curriculum totally, because it is a kind of different with Chinese. But I still enjoy it and it is interesting. Now I am full of expectation for every day, and I am satisfied with this situation.

Morven Gow, MLitt Publishing Studies 2016-17

November 7th, 2016 by morven_gow | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Morven Gow, MLitt Publishing Studies 2016-17
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htln29im

“How brave of you.” “How inspiring!” “I’d love to do that – good on you!”
Reactions to news that I have signed up to be one of the first humans trying to grow spinach in a cloche on Mars? Or perhaps to an announcement that I am contemplating a fire-walk, swimming Loch Lomond, and cycling the world? Neither of those. I find myself a Hero for the Middle-Aged Worker simply by returning to Uni.
What has brought me here to study publishing at Stirling? I wanted to shake up my skills and go back to the future, to focus on writing. After 30 years planning and buying advertising campaigns, with some PR experience, working on campaigns for some of Scotland’s bastions of culture (National Museums, National Galleries, National Library), newspaper publishers, retailers, banks, whiskies, political, and public health campaigns, I thought I would brush up my writing skills to suit the digital age adding what is known in the trade as content marketing to the skills I could offer my employer and my clients. A quick Google brought me to the Publishing Scotland website, and information about a day course on the subject. But I wanted something with more depth. I read information on the site about PG courses in publishing, and although I discounted the idea at the time, a small persistent voice (coupled with the louder voices of my friends) kept asking, “why not? Books are a passion for you, and you love a beautifully designed hip posh mag”. After a meeting with the course director, Frances, the idea blossomed, I applied – and here I am, loving my new life as a student on a well respected course, thinking new thoughts, on a beautiful campus, with fellow students from all over the world.
Now that the course has begun, I can see that the Publishing Studies course will repurpose me for the next stage in my life – rather like a classic G Plan chair, reupholstered and reoiled.
Officially self-employed, I am a consultant for my previous company combining blog writing and communication advice with media planning and buying, and looking for some experience in book and magazine marketing from publishers before I graduate, with an eye to moving into that area as a consultant at the end of the course.

I can be found at@Morv60 on Twitter and at Morven Gow on LinkedIn

The Man Booker Prize 2016

October 28th, 2016 by Aleksander Pęciak | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Man Booker Prize 2016
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The Man Booker Prize logoWho would have ever thought that one of the most prestigious British book awards may be given according to one, simple criteria: “the best novel in the opinion of the judges”? The uniqueness of the Man Booker Prize lies also in the jury which is not (as someone would predict) contained only of literary critics or professors of literature – but also readers reflecting multiple backgrounds: politicians, actors or journalists. Honesty and simplicity that is expressed in this prize seem convincing even for me, a rebel always skeptical to the tastes of highly regarded authorities. And it must mean something.

The general idea behind the prize is to encourage readers to read the winning book – and a true success of it can be measured by the increase of its sales. Every year since 1969 winners are granted with £50,000 for their books published in The United Kingdom, which makes it one of the richest prizes in the world. In addition to the main prize since 2005 there has been the International Man Booker Prize awarded to those whose work’s translations appeared in English. The money are shared between the international author and the translator of the book. The winner of the International Man Booker Prize was announced earlier this year – “The Vegetarian” by Korean author Han Kang, a story about woman embracing her idea of living “plant-like” existence, translated by Deborah Smith, a founder of non-for-profit Tilted Axis Press.

In 2016 we can be sure that satire is still alive. On 25th of October Paul Beatty became the first American winner of The Man Booker Prize. Two years ago the prize changed its rules and opened to authors from outside the Commonwealth, what makes his winning even more significant. His winning book, “The Sellout”, “takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and snarl”, and is, as described by judges, “a novel for our times”. Parodying racial stereotypes, Beatty presents the story of Bonbon, African-American living in Dickens, Los Angeles, and his struggles with accusation of reintroducing slavery and segregation in a local high school. The author has received the trophy from the hands of the Duchess of Cornwall. A victory of Paul Beatty is also a victory of small and independent trade publisher – Oneworld. Based in London and active since 1986, Oneworld presents novels advertised as “intelligent, challenging and distinctive”. I could not imagine better gift for the year of their 30th anniversary.

The Man Booker Prize for Paul Beatty is also a great disappointment for the raised hopes for Graham Macrae Burnet’s “His Bloody Project” published by Contraband, the crime imprint of Saraband. It was the bestselling novel on the shortlist and had the best recognition amongst its rivals. A Man Booker Prize would be the true icing on the cake – “His Bloody Project” translation rights in six countries as well as film and TV adaptation permissions were sold. The publisher is struggling now to meet the demands for the books.

But in the terms of the mission of the prize, we can easily say that it is completed – sales for all the nominated books has risen, which proves its real impact on the readership and readers’ choices.

Therese Campbell, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17

October 25th, 2016 by therese_campbell | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Therese Campbell, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17
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As clichéd as itProfile Picture sounds, my love for books began at a young age. As a quiet child, I was definitely a bookworm and could immerse myself in whatever book or story I was reading. My Mum – the English teacher – always encouraged me to read and helped me develop my love for literature throughout my childhood and teenage years. Being 17 and having absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I decided that studying books for 4 years seemed like a not-so-terrible idea and chose to do a degree in English Literature at the University of Strathclyde.

While I truly enjoyed studying literature during my degree, I began to ponder the processes and people behind the books but, at the time, had limited knowledge of publishing. For my dissertation, I was given the opportunity to interview playwright Chris Hannan, who had adapted Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment for theatres. During the interview, Chris spoke about his relationship with his editor and I realised how important the author-editor relationship was, as well as how influential the editor was to the final product. It was at this point, I began to consider a career in publishing, but I had no idea how to pursue it!

I was lucky enough to spend the end of my Honours year and the following months residing in Osaka, Japan. I eagerly trawled Japanese bookstores, amazed by their size and their eclectic range of books – none of which I could read, but I did enjoy looking at pictures of cats balancing oranges on their heads… one of the less disturbing books we found.

After returning from Japan and spending time working in the soul-destroying world of retail, I discovered the Publishing Studies course online and applied right away. I was over the moon to find a course which encompassed my interests but would also help me develop them in a more vocational sense. It’s been a challenge adjusting to student life again after time out, but the course and the opportunities it offers are certainly worth it.

Jo Ripoll, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17

October 20th, 2016 by jo_ripoll | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Jo Ripoll, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17
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student-profile-imageHi, I’m Jo, and no, my name’s not short for anything. I am born and bred in New Orleans, Louisiana in the US, where the cultures are varying and the food is flavorful. I’ve been fortunate enough in my 22 years to have travelled all over with my family, which instilled in me a love for adventure, new places and a fascination for other cultures. It is one of the many reasons that brought me to Stirling, Scotland for my Master’s degree.

Books and stories have always been a part of my life, but I have not always been on the publishing track. For most of my young adult life, I thought I wanted to be a social worker. That is, until my life took a sharp left turn right before I started college. As I reevaluated what I wanted to do with my life, I always came back to my books. That’s when I first thought about publishing as a career in an abstract sort of way. So, I got my Bachelor’s degree at Louisiana State University in English: Rhetoric, Writing and Culture, enhancing my reading and writing skills while uncovering an understanding of developing society through theory and linguistics courses. Also, my minor in Communication Studies allowed me to better my understanding of interpersonal skills and interactions, especially in a changing society that has become so computer mediated.

Most of my undergraduate years were spent peer-editing and proofreading fellow classmate’s writing, both academic and creative. The more time I spent copy-editing and proofreading, I realized how much I enjoyed helping to make people’s writing the best that it could be and building the bridge between writer and reader. My internship with Sophisticated Woman Magazine solidified my interest in publishing and editing and allowed me to get my feet wet in every aspect of the publishing industry. After my internship came to a close, I continued to work with them as a book review columnist.

I knew, however, that I needed to learn more to successfully break into publishing, which led me to the University of Stirling’s Publishing Studies program. Stirling offered me what no other school could: the chance to learn more about my chosen field in great detail while being able to live in this beautiful, magical place and interact with a largely international student body. This program has opened my eyes to consider every aspect of publishing and just fall in love with it (and books) that much more.