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publishing technology

Behind the Digital Scenes at Faber & Faber

October 17th, 2014 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Behind the Digital Scenes at Faber & Faber
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FFAs the incredibly honoured 2013 winner of the Faber & Faber prize for Digital Innovation, I travelled down to London for an incredible two-day tour behind the digital scenes at Faber.

I visited three amazing departments with digital publishing at their core: Digital, Faber Factory and Marketing. And what was surprising was how digital was intrinsic to each, and yet, they were completely different.

The Digital department made the nerdish inner me very happy. Running through Faber’s app history, from the innovative The Waste Land app through its infamous Malcom Tucker and stunning Shakespeare apps, we arrived at its newest release The Animator’s Survival Kit. Faber took the teaching aid for animation and cartoon drawing by renowned artist Richard Williams and translated it into a digital format as only it could, once again breaking the mould for digital. The Survival Kit uses digital to teach, introducing features that add to the text, such as controllable animation sequences to see frame-by-frame movement, grasping a truth that not many understand: digital cannot simply be a copy of a paper product. The best bit, however, was when I got the chance to give feedback on the digital brief for an upcoming app… very exciting.

Suitably geared up from a morning in apps, I moved on to find out more about Faber Factory and its digital services for publishers. I was a starstruck in a different way, as I’d seen Faber Factory, one of the driving forces in the UK behind digitalisation among the smaller publishers, first-hand in my internship and repeatedly in my digital-focused dissertation. While gains of digital can be immense, the cost is prohibitive for small publishers, and increasingly large players in the market leave little room. And that is where the incredibly enthusiastic Factory team come in, managing, converting, and negotiating on behalf of their clients. I had a great time finding out more on what they did, and left very much convinced that one of the very few publishers offering services is doing it right.

A screenshot from Claire Jeffery’s prize-winning Jekyll & Hyde app

The next day I ventured further up the stairs to find out more about digital marketing. I’ll admit I expected to hear the usual vague buzzwords: ‘social media’, ‘online presence’, ‘SEOs’, etc. So when I actually arrived at the department it was refreshing to discover more about digital marketing beyond social media and videos. I saw how the traditional eclectic Faber was balanced with a new digital approach based on big data. Faber is one of the publishers just beginning to explore big data and it is amazing how much can be revealed. A search for my favourite author Jasper Fforde revealed key phrases, new releases, who was talking about him, which websites they visited… It was incredible and showed the impact that digital innovation is having on marketing. What I appreciated in my visit to marketing in Faber was the shift to a targeted approach based on statistics and information with the same heart and passion underneath, exactly as I’d always thought the process should be.

I saw three different sides to digital in my visit, each different and each needed. But what also really struck me was how, in little under a year through the Publishing Studies course at the University of Stirling, I’d gone from knowing a little about the publishing process to having a in-depth understanding not only of traditional publishing but also of the challenges and opportunities of digital publishing. I found myself debating all sorts of related issues with very passionate people and that was what struck me. To get into publishing you have to be absolutely passionate for what you want do. Every comma in every book, every new innovation, every campaign and every interaction along the chain is driven by people who care deeply about publishing.

On a personal note, there are a couple of things I will take away from this.

(1) Always say yes to a free book.

(2) There is only one way a literary trip to London should end: an Agatha Christie play, a visit to Baker Street and the exploration of many bookshops.

(3) Be completely and utterly passionate in everything you do.

I’d like to thank all the people from the University of Stirling and Faber & Faber who made the trip possible and everyone on the two-day tour who were so welcoming and encouraging.

Claire Jeffery now works at Prepress Projects in Perth.

 

 

Seeing the future through Google Glass

April 30th, 2014 by Liam Alastair Crouse | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Seeing the future through Google Glass
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WP_20140306_0012‘The future is now!’ I’ve always found it good practice to begin blog posts with overused clichés.

‘Google Glass haters attack woman’ – well, not a cliché, but as titles of articles go, pretty catchy. Google Glass, which takes technology to a whole new level, has been met with both excitement and suspicion. One the one hand, the Glass comprises one cool (that’s ‘student speak’ for revolutionary) bit of technological synthesis. On the other, people are saying, sometimes rather facetiously: ‘Google? I’m sure they’ll make sure that none of this material turns up in the wrong place…’ Google? Aye, right.

But seriously, future, now. As part of my internship with HarperCollins UK (in Bishopbriggs), I managed to get into one of the Google Glass demonstrations recently. The Glasses are only currently available in the USA, and even then, they’re only trialling 10,000. HCP got a few over to the UK through their US branch.

There are a few glitches in them yet: they would respond to anyone speaking (not helpful if in a busy café or street); they couldn’t tell me how to get back to Rhode Island; and they really like taking pictures (I see what you did there, Google…). Taking a photo is so easy, in fact, it’s as easy as blinking. Actually, blink, and Google Glass will take a photo. Videos are just as stress-free – I’ll get back to that later.

They’re operated through finger swiping, voice commands, head tilting and a few other animations. They’ll perform a number of simple operations, such as searching Bing (just kidding, Google), video conference calls, translating – most of the things Google’s well known for. It even knew where the closest prison was (answer, just across the field!). Voice recognition was a bit trickier; they needed the token American (that’s me!) to say ‘share to Twitter’, as the Scottish accent hasn’t been programmed in yet. I’ll let that one slide, as they are only supposed to be dealing with the American twang just now.

The translation feature was mind-boggling. A co-worker brought in a piece of Spanish poetry and when we looked at it through the Glasses, the English translation was superimposed over the text – as if the Spanish wasn’t even there. Just keep in mind, the translation’s only as good as Google Translate is – so a bit lacking. But for travel and the like (I’m thinking menus and road signs), you’d do worse then walking around being able to read everything in a foreign country! Consider the ramifications for foreign rights sales for publishing if these were to catch on…

So, videos. You’re out in a club, doing silly things, and someone’s recording. People already do that with cameras/smartphones, right? Well, you can’t really tell if someone’s taking a photo or recording you with these. It’s a bit invasive on a few fronts. Due to a range of questions concerning privacy, spying, and surveillance (something which Google is really good at doing at a profit), they’ve already been banned in a number of locations (and they’re not even on the market yet!).

Furthermore, a lady was fined in the US for driving while operating Google Glasses. Although technically not against the law, the authorities finagled the rules to charge her with operating a TV/monitor while operating a motor vehicle. As well, in February, a woman was ‘attacked’ by ‘haters’ in San Francisco when she refused to remove her glasses (Telegraph, 26 Feb). So begins the revolution.

Or rather, in a few months (?), when they’re released at long last. They’re currently upwards of $1,500 a glass, but they’re estimated to retail around $600. Battery power only lasts around 2 hours just now, but I think that with the rapidity of technological evolution which drives these things, that might be sorted out soon. Who knows, at the end of this year, you may be buying a Google Glass add-on for your loved one’s prescriptions for Christmas.

 

Forward Thinking – Bookseller article by Centre Staff

December 19th, 2012 by Claire Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Forward Thinking – Bookseller article by Centre Staff
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As part of the AHRC Digital Transformations Research and Development project The Book Unbound: Disruption and Disintermediation in the Digital Age, Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication staff Professor Claire Squires and Dr Padmini Ray Murray have published this week December 2012, pp.22-25) in the UK publishing trade journal The Bookseller an article based on their research findings, examining how independents are staying ahead in digital publishing. As Squires and Ray Murray begin:

‘With E-Books, tablets and social networks, the digital future of publishing seems less the stuff of science fiction and more an uncomfortable reality. But instead of consigning traditional publishing models to a black hole, Will Atkinson, Faber & Faber’s sales and marketing director, ag many publishers are trying to operate in a “duplicate universe”, retaining traditional print-driven models of publishing alongside newer ones. In the turn to digital, traditional job roles are “creaking”, says Atkinson, and the linear production process is being undermined – but most publishers are yet to arrive at a 360 approach towards commissioning, production, marketing, sales and distribution.’

Focusing on case studies of five independents, the article discusses the quick thinking and agility of publishers in the digital arena. The publishers taking part in the study are And Other Stories, Blasted Heath, Canongate, Faber and Guardian Books.

More on the Book Unbound project is available via the project website.

AHRC Digital Transformations Project: The Book Unbound

February 15th, 2012 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on AHRC Digital Transformations Project: The Book Unbound
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 We’ve just heard that the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication has been awarded a grant from the AHRC in its Digital Transformations Research Development call.

Our project, ‘The Book Unbound: Disruption and Disintermediation in the Digital Age’, will be led by the Centre’s Director, Professor Claire Squires, with Dr Padmini Ray Murray (Lecturer in Publishing Studies) and Dr Paula Morris (Lecturer in Creative Writing) as Co-Investigators. The staff team will be completed by Scott Russell, as an External Consultant. We’ll also be working with the Electric Bookshop in order to present some of our findings, and there will also be opportunities for collaborations between creative writing and publishing students.

The project will examine changing business models in the digital publishing environment and their impact on the communications circuit and notions of authority, authorship, audiences and access. It will do this both via a series of case studies, and an experimental mode (live publishing – watch this space!).

We’ll have a new website up with full details of the project soon, but if you’d like any information about it in the meantime, please get in touch via our Contact page.

Independent Publishing Events

May 30th, 2011 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Independent Publishing Events
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The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, in association with the Scottish Universities Insight Institute, is running a series of seminars over the summer in Glasgow on the topic of Independent Publishing: Making and Preserving Culture in a Global Literary Marketplace. The seminars will feature a mix of publishers and others in the book trade, from Scotland and across Europe, and also of academics and other commentators on the industry. The three seminars will be:

 9-10 June Digital Technologies and Publishing (keynote speaker: Chris Meade, Director of the Institute for the Future of the Book on ‘The Amplified Author in the Unlibrary’)

23-24 June Globalisation and Independent Publishing (keynote speaker: Professor Simon Gikandi, Princeton University on ‘Scenes of Reading in the Global Literary Marketplace: Some Postcolonial Reflections)

 22-23 August Cultural Policy (keynote speaker: André Schiffrin, publisher and author of The Business of Books and Words and Money; in association with Publishing Scotland and the Edinburgh International Book Festival

All events are free, but registration is required. You can register direct for the keynote lectures by clicking on the following links: Chris Meade (9 June); Simon Gikandi (23 June). If you would like to attend the seminars in full, please send an email to publishing [@] stir.ac.uk and we will send you a registration link. More details are available from the Programme website.

Centre Director comments on ebooks and digital publishing

April 8th, 2011 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Centre Director comments on ebooks and digital publishing
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Much media attention this week is focused on the world of books and publishing, in the run-up to the London Book Fair. The Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, Claire Squires, has been speaking to various newspapers and broadcast media about the rise and rise of digital publishing.

She was cited in the Sunday Mail on rumours that J K Rowling might finally be allowing Harry Potter ebooks, commenting that “It is akin to the Beatles allowing their music to be launched on iTunes – it really is that important. JK Rowling has been very protective of her novels, and rightly so, but this signals a real sea change in her attitudes.”

BBC Business Scotland is devoting this Sunday’s programme to publishing and bookselling, again interviewing Claire on current trends, challenges and opportunities of the 21st century digital environment.

Intersection: Publishing 2010

March 22nd, 2010 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Intersection: Publishing 2010
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Intersection_medDr Padmini Ray Murray is co-organising an event called Intersection: Publishing 2010 on the 17th of April in London, on the eve of the London Book Fair. This event is unique in that it’s an ‘unconference’ which will bring together leaders and practitioners from the disciplines of publishing, journalism, and technology. Designed to be a day-long brainstorm, it will encourage open and honest debate about the future of content consumption, application and business models. At a time when both content producers and media owners are undergoing fundamental transformations – driven by consumers and technology – the event will be timely.

The ‘unconference’ format avoids formal Powerpoint presentations, instead offering informal discussions based in small groups, interspersed with brainstormed presentations and discussions. This more relaxed format will allow delegates from different disciplines to meet, network and to deeply understand and challenge each other’s views. The future of e-books (and readers) in the light of the imminent launch of iBooks; how publishers can use digital developments to their advantage; the role of DRM in e-bookselling; the Google Book Settlement and other digitisation initiatives such as the Open Content Alliance–are just some of the topics which will inspire and stimulate lively discussion and debate. The informal nature of the event means that participants are encouraged to register their interest at the website, and suggestions for topics to be discussed on the day can be listed here. The conversation will continue after the event over on Intersection: Publishing’s blog and on Twitter.

– Padmini Ray Murray

All hail the Apple Tablet…?

January 27th, 2010 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | 15 Comments
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It’s widely reported in the media that Apple will ”unveil’ the long-rumoured Apple Tablet today, which may or may not deliver the iPod moment for e-books, revolutionise digital publishing, and be the saviour of the newspaper industry. Hotly awaited, the Tablet will add to Apple’s desirability in the world of technology (or will it?).

All promises to be revealed  in San Francisco at 1800 GMT.

What do you think?