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

research

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

Publishing Prizes 2014-15

November 13th, 2015 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Prizes 2014-15
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The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication at the University of Stirling is delighted to make the following awards to students who are graduating from the MLitt in Publishing Studies 2014-15.

  • The Freight Books Prize for Publishing Design – Kerry McShane
  • The Faber & Faber Prize for Digital Innovation – Sarah Boyd
  • The Publishing Scotland Prize for the Best Dissertation – Sarah Webster
  • The Routledge Prize for the most Distinguished Student on the MLitt in Publishing Studies – Heather McDaid

All the prizes are sponsored by our Industry Advisory Board.

Outlander

Kerry McShane is the recipient of the Freight Books Prize for Publishing Design. For this, she produced the design project The Outlander Kitchen, focusing on a set of recipes inspired by the books and TV series by Diana Gabaldon. For this, Kerry wins £100 of cash and £100 of books of her choice from Glasgow-based publisher Freight Books. Kerry is currently working as an associate editor at Gibbs Smith in Layton, Utah.

Sarah Webster’s prize-winning dissertation, for which she will receive £100 of books of her choice from Publishing Scotland, is titled ‘To what extent does book jacket and cover design influence sales?’. The dissertation, as its abstract explains, ‘concludes that cover design significantly influences book sales. It further supports the idea that the continued investment in quality, cutting-edge jacket design, coupled with a greater level of market research by publishers in what retailers and consumers want, will ensure that the print book continues to thrive, whilst forcing the design of the ebook as we currently know it to seek further improvement.’

VAMPSarah Boyd is the winner of the Faber & Faber Prize for Digital Innovation, for her work on an interactive poetry app, VAMP. Sarah’s award consists of a placement with Faber & Faber in London, during which she will have the opportunity to meet with staff from Faber Digital, Faber Factory, and the marketing team. A previous recipient of the award, Claire Jeffery, writes about her experience here.

Finally, the recipient of the Routledge Prize for the most Distinguished Student on the MLitt in Publishing Studies, thus winning £200 of books from Routledge, is Heather McDaid. Heather’s overall grade profile on the course was consistently high, as was her wider contribution to the life and environment of the MLitt in Publishing Studies. Heather is now publishing assistant at Bright Red, and social media officer for SYP Scotland, as well as freelancing.

Professor Claire Squires, Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, commented that ‘Every year, we’re impressed and delighted by the quality of work produced by our students on the MLitt in Publishing Studies, and the commitment they show to the development of their careers in the publishing industry. It’s wonderful to be able to award some of the very best of the work with prizes from our Industry Advisory Board partners. We congratulate the individual students on their creativity, knowledge, skills and understanding of the publishing industry, and are particularly delighted to be able to have prize-winning work which celebrates digital savvy and entrepreneurialism – key attributes for the publishers of the future.’

 

Helena Markou, PhD in Publishing Studies

October 8th, 2015 by Helena Markou | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Helena Markou, PhD in Publishing Studies
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biog_helena_markouWorking TitleThe Shelf-Life of Books: An Exploration of the Lifecycle and Longevity of Books in the UK in the 21st Century

Topic:  With 180,000 new titles now published each year, there is fierce competition for space on bookshop shelves.  This research aims to identify and investigate longselling titles within UK trade publishing (namely the books you find in high street bookshops).  It will first establish an overview of the typical lifecycle of books across genres, using quantitative data analysis.  Then seek to identify and explore the cultural significance of those titles that, against all odds, remain on bookshop shelves.

Through this research data analysis methods will be developed and the themes of longevity, obsolesce and the impact of online bookselling on the UK publishing industry explored.

Research interests: bookselling, publishing, product development, consumerism, book history, book culture, creative industries, digital publishing, digital book history, digital humanities.

 

Supervisors:

Scholarships: SGSAH AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship

Links:

Helena on Twitter: @helena_markou
Helena on LinkedIn
Helena on Academia.edu

Email: h.l.markou[at]stir.ac.uk

Publishing Prizes 2013-14

April 12th, 2015 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Prizes 2013-14
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The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication at the University of Stirling is delighted to have made the following awards to students who graduated from the MLitt in Publishing Studies 2013-14.

  • The Freight Books Prize for Publishing Design – Laura Jones
  • The Faber & Faber Prize for Digital Innovation – Liam Crouse
  • The Publishing Scotland Prize for the Best Dissertation – Fanny Schmidt
  • The Routledge Prize for the most Distinguished Student on the MLitt in Publishing Studies – Laura Jones

All the prizes are sponsored by members of the Centre’s Industry Advisory Board.

Laura Jones's prize-winning Read. Write. Ink.

Laura Jones’s prize-winning Read. Write. Ink.

Laura Jones is the recipient of both the Freight Books Prize for Publishing Design. For this former, she produced the fascinating design project Read. Write. Ink., focusing on collectors of literary tattoos. It features writers close at home including Vicki Jarrett, but also examples she sourced via Twitter. For this, Laura wins £100 of cash and £100 of books of her choice from Glasgow-based publisher Freight Books. Fellow student Aija Oksman was Highly Commended in the Freight Books Prize for Publishing Design for her powerful project Pursuit: Empowering Post-Natal Depression.

Laura is also the winner of the Routledge Prize for the most Distinguished Student on the MLitt in Publishing Studies, thus winning £200 of books from Taylor & Francis. Laura’s overall grade profile on the course was consistently high, and alongside her Publishing Project she produced extremely strong work including the dissertation, ‘Amazon: Friend or Foe?’. Laura is now working at Glasgow publisher Saraband Books.

Fanny Schmidt’s prize-winning dissertation, for which she will receive £100 of books of her choice from Publishing Scotland’s BooksFromScotland.com, is titled ‘Copyright, Books and Social Media’. The dissertation, as tis abstract explains, ‘examines the interrelation between copyright and authorship on social media platforms, arguing that that it should be awarded with both a fair dealing exemption for the use of copyrighted material in those spaces and also a better protection of the copyright of original material produced for social media. It further examines whether or not social media content should be awarded authorship status in order to support the claim for copyright. However, the findings suggest that due to the high level of prosumption on social media, authorship in the traditional sense cannot be granted; calling into question the copyright legislation these websites should receive.’ A pdf of Fanny’s dissertation is available via this link. Fanny is now working at Bloomsbury Academic.

Liam Crouse is the winner of the Faber & Faber Prize for Digital Innovation, for his work developing the concept of and designs for a geospacial app mapping out the life of the celebrated Gaelic poet Duncan Bàn MacIntyre along the West Highland Way. Liam was the recipient of the inaugural Gaelic Books Council Scholarship at the Stirling Centre for International Publishing & Communication. His aware consists of a two-day placement with Faber & Faber in London, during which he will have the opportunity to meet with the heads of Faber Digital, Faber Factory, and the marketing team. A previous recipient of the award, Claire Jeffery, writes about her experience here.

Liam Crouse's prize-winning app The Duncan Ban Trail

Liam Crouse’s prize-winning app The Duncan Ban Trail

Professor Claire Squires, Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, commented that ‘It’s a great validation of our MLitt in Publishing Studies to have these industry-sponsored prizes, which showcase the work of the Centre and its students. We congratulate the individual students on their creativity, knowledge, skills and understanding of the publishing industry, and are particularly delighted to be able to have prize-winning work which celebrate digital savvy and entrepreneurialism – key attributes for the publishers of the future.’

Visiting Speaker: Dr Sam Rayner

January 7th, 2015 by Callum Mitchell Walker | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker: Dr Sam Rayner
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staffphotosam

On Thursday the 4th December we enjoyed the last visiting speaker of the semester, Dr Sam Rayner, the Director of the Centre for Publishing at the University College of London (UCL). Dr Rayner’s talk focused on her paper ‘Star Texts: The Next Generation’ in which she explores the dynamic modern world of publishing and its impact and potential impact on teaching and learning in society. Dr Rayner analyses the way in which publishers edit and package content for new readers and new markets, the shaping of the literary canon, and the emergence and significance of several types of ‘Star Texts’. Before beginning her talk, Dr Rayner pre-warned us of her use of Star Trek puns (which she admitted she had toned down), however the class was eager to hear about her research on ‘Star Texts’.

But what does Dr Rayner mean by Star Texts?

Dr Rayner began by expressing that throughout her academic and professional life (whether it be teaching, research, working in libraries or bookselling), texts and their status and consumption have been fundamental. This made her interested in observing how we read, keep, study and rate books. As a literary and publishing researcher, Dr Rayner recognised that certain terms related to texts with cultural standing—‘The Canon’ and ‘The Classic’, have “become elusive and complicated by two other means of quality control”—‘The Prize Winners’ and ‘The Book Club Recommendations’. Dr Rayner collectively calls these four groups ‘Star Texts’, and argued, “these texts create clusters in the impossible constellation of the research environment that they belong to”. This term, ‘impossible constellation’ comes from Prof. Ruth Mateus-Berr from the University of Applied Art Vienna, during a conference on artistic research, and she used the term to attempt to describe the “several contradictory methods, understandings and histories” that could be applied to artistic research. Dr Rayner believes that this ‘constellation’ was a particularly useful way of understanding how texts exist in the 21st Century. Her research therefore focuses on the tension between a literary work, and the responses to the literary work in question. Dr Rayner suggested that whilst the text remains unchanged, there is a constant transformative process of the work, born out of the interaction and response from each specific reader.

‘The Classic’

Dr Rayner went on to discuss importance of the transformative star text group of ‘The Classic’. These texts, Dr Rayner argued, are those that most commonly stand the test of time. But what makes a text a ‘Classic’? Dr Rayner pointed out that scholars have very varied views on this question. The ‘Classic’, academics argue, should arguably be “timelessly appealing” and “elevate its author to the status of a god”. Dr Rayner also added that ‘Classics’ can be very subjective, and one individual’s list of ‘Classic’ texts won’t necessarily be the same as that of another individual. However, we do find a curated ‘Classics’ section in a bookshop, and publishers for centuries have created ‘Classic’ lists. This type of text is chosen, designed and marketed by publishers rather than academics (not suggesting they are purely commercial products, however). Dr Rayner asserted that the ‘Classic’ should appeal to every type of reader. She also pointed out that publishers such as Penguin attempt to modernise by means of packaging, engaging with digital, and marketing these timeless texts.

‘The Canon’ 

Dr Rayner next went on to explain another type of ‘Star Text’ known as ‘The Canon’. The establishment sets this group for primarily educational purposes and to define identities within culture. This type of text exists to represent the view of the individual and the preservation of tradition. Dr Rayner went on to discuss how texts have become ‘canonised’ in education through curriculum and have moved away from chronological presentation, towards a clear genre focused syllabi of texts. ‘The Canon’, Dr Rayner believes is undergoing a time of extreme change, and the impact of celebrity culture and national feeling are determining the way texts are canonised in education. Dr Rayner also addressed the issue of whether or not students should be given a prescribed reading list, as arguably this is a means of industrially restraining the individual’s imagination. Perhaps a more effective system would rather encourage young people to love reading and get into a habit of it, Dr Rayner shared to the argument.

‘Prize Winning Fiction’ 

The next type of ‘Star Text’ Dr Rayner explained was the ‘Prize Winning Fiction’ category. Dr Rayner argued that in the modern world of publishing, being nominated for literary prizes quite often means being read or not being read by the reading public. Dr Rayner also discussed how effective creative writing courses are in the emergence of this type of text and the development of a synergy between academics, creative writing and publishing bestsellers. The question was also raised over what should constitute as a ‘prize winner’. Should it be by measured by unit sales or by its literary quality? Furthermore, who should decide on these status elevated texts? Academics, publishers or readers?

‘The Book Club Recommendations’

Following on from Dr Rayner’s previous group of ‘Star Texts’ was the final group of ‘Book Club Recommendations’. This group can also be a prizewinner, but experiences the treatment of being associated with a well-known figure or celebrity. In these cases, the power of an individual’s brand is worth thousands in sales of a title if they have been selected as part of their ‘book club’. This phenomenon arguably gave the book back its ‘social history’ and within these book clubs, the well-known figure(s) (such as Oprah or Richard and Judy) play an active role in choosing, recommending and associating themselves with a title. Dr Rayner described how in a sense these individuals act as mediators between the author’s text and the audience. Book clubs show more than any other type of ‘Star Text’ the tension between the cultural and the commercial that exists in the book trade.

Merely ‘Solar Flares’ or Eternal ‘Burning Stars’?

Dr Rayner developed her argument by observing the conflict between cultural and academic responses of texts and the importance of reader interaction and marketing campaigns on the success of these titles. In the vast ‘constellation’ of texts in the current market, Dr Rayner believes that grouping these ‘Star Texts’ helps us to identify what drives us when we choose what we are reading. The development of technology also makes the text organic, with digital transforming the way in which we read, store and share text. Dr Rayner’s paper raised several interesting debates on the textual environment and what defines a text as a ‘Star’ and indeed what cultural, academic and commercial forces play a part. By the end of Dr Rayner’s talk, we were ready to “boldly go where no researchers have gone before” and explore the future of ‘Star Texts’ and textual constellations!

 

 

 

Visiting Speaker: Dr Simon Frost, Bournemouth University

November 14th, 2014 by Sarah Boyd | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker: Dr Simon Frost, Bournemouth University
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Simon FrostAs an extra addition to the Visiting Speaker series, Dr Simon Frost, Senior Lecturer in English at Bournemouth University, came to talk to us about his current research project. Entitled ‘Private Gains and Retailed Literature: Pathways to a Sustainable-Economic Account of Reading‘ (though Frost pointed out that his subtitle keeps changing!), this ambitious project is being undertaken in association with John Smith’s, the higher-education bookseller familiar to most students for their on-campus shops.
It’s probably worth mentioning at this point that Dr Frost’s project is quite a complex and, in some ways, esoteric one and that it is very much ongoing and developing, so at times it became a little difficult to take on all of the information he was conveying. The seven-and-a-half pages of notes I took during his presentation are testament to this! However, I’ll do my best to cover what he had to say.
First, Dr Frost outlined the aim of his project, to produce a defence of literature (the project is focused on fiction) in economic terms, rather than the cultural terms in which arguments for literature’s value are usually expressed. This was one of the trickier ideas to get our heads around but Frost put it in layman’s terms, saying that he’s trying to find out why a customer would choose to buy books, rather than booze! Essentially, his belief is that pointing to literature’s cultural importance does not mount a strong enough defence for the funding and resources allocated to it and that we require a discussion that engages with the economics of literature in sustainable terms or, in other words, attempts to discover what readers gain from the books they buy in more practical terms.
We then looked at the structure of Frost’s project, which is organised into three ‘threads’:
  • ‘theorisation’ – produce a model of how readers gain from books, bridging the literary and economic by investigating the idea that books meet intangible needs for readers.
  • ‘tuition’ – a number of students will be involved in the research for this project, particularly in compiling the results of an extensive survey, aiming for 750 completed surveys.
  • ‘professional practice’ – working in conjunction with John Smith’s, examine the shift from ‘bookseller’ to ‘book-based supplier of solutions’, in particular the move to provide new services based on outcomes/gains.

John Smith's BooksIn order to explain how he became involved with John Smith’s, Dr Frost gave us a potted pre-history of the current bookselling situation in Britain. John Smith’s has been around since 1751, so it has survived and responded to the major changes that have happened in the bookselling industry over the last several centuries, from the 1899 establishment of the Net Book Agreement (NBA) and its encouragement of dedicated bookstores, to the collapse of the Agreement in the 1990s which led to the downfall of almost all chain booksellers on the British High Street. More recently, the rise of online bookstores (themselves largely a result of the NBA’s collapse) has forced John Smith’s to rethink its business, as Amazon and its ilk have disrupted the traditional tutor-student-campus bookstore relationship. Their response has been to stop thinking of themselves as ‘booksellers’ at all and instead re-brand as a provider of solutions for students and Higher Education (HE) institutions. Indeed, their website is tagged as ‘John Smith’s Student Store’, with no reference to bookshops at all.

In effect, this has resulted in John Smith’s working with HE institutions to provide students with all the resources they need to successfully enter, negotiate and exit higher education. Their Stirling store, for instance, lists 15 departments, providing products from art supplies to bikes, mobile phones to university-branded clothing. They are no longer thinking about how they can sell the most books to students but about how they can meet all the needs that students might have, how they can become the main provider of solutions to students’ demands and problems (as well as aiding HE institutions to meet their outcomes). In this way, their rethinking of their business model fits neatly with Dr Frost’s project, as it relocates books as one part of a service that anticipates and provides everything that students will gain from appropriating. So, a copy of ‘Mrs Dalloway’ is no longer just a tool for education and cultural influence but also a product that can be analysed and quantified in economic terms.

aspireFor the final part of his presentation, Dr Frost went into more detail about how the relationship between students, their HE institutions and this new incarnation of John Smith’s works. An essential part of this is the distribution of bursaries to students in England (introduced as a mitigating response to the raising of tuition fees). Universities receive a sum of money from the government and parcel this out to selected students in bursaries, often around £300, which are intended to widen opportunities for students from low-income backgrounds (and, ideally, to be spent on university-related goods and services, rather than down the pub, though we did have a discussion of whether or not the social environment provided by pubs – and cafes, equally expensive though perhaps less stigmatised – is a valuable part of the university experience!). John Smith’s have become involved in this process via their ‘Aspire‘ smartcard, which can be pre-loaded with the bursary money and limits what it can be spent on. This allows for a number of interesting features, from each card being tailored to its recipient’s needs, to facilitating data gathering and feedback to the institution. Of course, as several members of the class pointed out, this has some moral and legal implications, particularly with regards to privacy (the idea of tutors being able to keep tabs on whether you’ve purchased their reading list or not is more than a little Big Brother!) and this is an area that Dr Frost will be looking into as his study develops. At the moment, though, his main questions in this area are:

  1. Is the diversity of purchasing agency (i.e. those involved in the process of purchasing) now so great that it produces a break from the linear rational-choice model of purchasing?
  2. Do the limits imposed by the ‘Aspire’ model constitute an interruption of free will or free exchange? They limit the convertibility of one resource to another (the bursary can be turned into books or bikes but not beers) but do they also limit free choice? Such limits are common in the public world but how do they function in the semi-commercial and commercial spheres?
It was fascinating to hear about a project still in progress, with Dr Frost acknowledging that he is still in the process of gathering information and developing the theories and concepts that will form his ultimate conclusions. His observation that his ‘inner critic’ was working even as he spoke was one that I – and I’m sure most of us – identified with, but it’s reassuring to know that the pros suffer too. It was also great to feel that he was genuinely interested in our responses and in engaging in conversation with his audience – it’s always encouraging to feel that we’re being taken seriously by people already working! I’ll be interested to see the results of his project and how it shifts and develops as it progresses.

Miriam V Owen, MRes in Publishing Studies 2014-15

October 23rd, 2014 by Miriam Owen | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Miriam V Owen, MRes in Publishing Studies 2014-15
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profile pic 2The Masters in Research for me is a way to further explore and consolidate some work that I have been doing for the past couple of years on a project based around Nordic Noir fiction. You can read an article I have had published here.  I am currently undertaking a piece of research into crime writing festivals and fan behaviour and I am off to a brand new crime writing festival in Reykjavik called Iceland Noir soon.

I chose the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication because they have respected academics who are active in their specialist areas and who demonstrate a use of all the tools available to them such as social media, digital publishing and the network around them.  I also found that the choice of modules on the programme provide a solid framework for my learning outcomes.

I grew up in Scotland  but come from a Scottish/Dutch background and have always travelled extensively and have lived in a few different countries, the longest being Japan for 5 years.  I have to admit that I have felt pretty much at home in all of the countries I have lived in, but have a particular fondness for landscapes with volcanoes,  long coastlines and an interesting traditional culture.  After my first degree, a Masters in History of Art, I worked in an art gallery and museum, before moving into teaching. Latterly I have worked in administration in higher education.  I love the arts and communication. I am interested in the transformative power of the arts and in the creative process.

As for a love of books, which everyone in the class has, I must admit to being a book sniffer! I love libraries, museums, bookstores, paper, words pictures, galleries and when combined in the right way the journeys that they take us on and the doors that they can open.  Without language, art and writing the human race would not have evolved and become what it is today.  I like to explore,  bring people together and make things happen! If you need me you can find me on Linked In or social media or better yet get in touch and we can meet face to face…

 

 

Marit Mathisen MLitt in Publishing Studies 2014-2015

October 10th, 2014 by Marit Mathisen | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Marit Mathisen MLitt in Publishing Studies 2014-2015
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I did my undergraduate dissertation on reader interaction with the author in the 21st century, with Claire Squires as my supervisor, and was very happy with how talented the people on this course are. I also found that I have a passion for this business, and the changes that are happening in publishing really interest me, and I am excited to see where the business is going.

So far I have some experience with proofreading translations from English as well as pure Norwegian texts (did I mention I’m from Norway?) with Krog Linguistic Solutions (website is in Norwegian).

In the future I hope to be able to work for a Norwegian or a British publisher, but I am hoping to figure out more specifically what I am good at so as to know what I can do for a publisher. As I have a love of languages I would not mind something in ELT, especially for the Japanese market, and seeing where that is headed with all the tools available now will be very interesting.

This is an interesting course to be a part of, and an exiting time to be part of it.

Alec Spencer, MRes 2014-16 (part-time)

September 25th, 2014 by Alec Spencer | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Alec Spencer, MRes 2014-16 (part-time)
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Alec SpencerWhen I told my daughter I was about to embark on the MRes course, I commented that perhaps I was getting a bit too old to take on further study. She replied, as she always has done, in a supportive way reminding me of the quotation by Mahatma Gandhi “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever”.  So here I am – at the start of a 27 month programme.

For those who know me they might think it a little strange to choose Publishing Studies as an interest. A life-time’s involvement with Prisons, Criminal Justice and Criminology has set me on a different path and I continue to be involved in a number of criminal justice areas – The Scottish Consortium for Crime and Criminal Justice (SCCCJ) and its thriving new e-publication under the management of Mary Munro ‘Scottish Justice Matters’; my commitment as an Honorary Professor at the School of Applied Social Science here at Stirling, and my work as a trustee of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation. Incidentally, through my work as a Public Appointments Adviser for the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland, I have a fascinating insight into the demands and complexities of running Public Bodies in Scotland.

So where does my interest in publishing come from?  Apart from indexing a law book in my post-grad student days (first time round!), and authoring a book on sex offenders published by Jessica Kingsley, I have had little truck with the publishing industry … or so I supposed.

One hobby I did have, perhaps some would call it an obsession, was to collect Penguin books. I have done so since the late 1970’s and by the 1990’s had about 2,500 first editions (or Penguin first impressions) on shelves, but on moving house found their way into boxes. What to do with them? A conundrum. Keep or sell?  In the end, and somewhat reluctantly, I decided to sell. Selling on eBay involves photographing the books, and eventually I had swapped about half my books for a virtual collection – of images. It took a little imagination on my part, and some techy help from my son, to set up a web-site www.penguinfirsteditions.com which now boasts over 6,200 entries and over 5,600 images. This ‘story’ can be found at the tab ‘About us’. Penguins have used wonderful designers to enhance their book covers – and the covers themselves are a separate area of interest and research.

Of course, ‘Penguin Books’, and Allen Lane its founder, is a marvellous exemplar of innovation and a revolution in publishing, which also was reflected in the process of social and educational change. These little paperback books are iconic and collectable. My interest has become a little less physical – I don’t need to own the books – and more reflective about why it is that individuals collect Penguin books, and not just specific genre or series – but sometimes the whole publishing house!  I started with this exploration in May 2014, when I visited Angus Mitchell, (interview) who donated his collection to Stirling University Library and I am looking forward to continuing on the journey of discovery about publishing and Penguin book collecting.

twitter2   LinkedIn2-jw

 

By the Book: thoughts on the conference

June 2nd, 2014 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | 1 Comment
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Rachel Noorda, PhD researcher in the Stirling Centre for International Publishing & Communication, reports on attending the By the Book conference in Florence:

Rachel Noorda presenting her paper

Rachel Noorda presenting her paper

I had the great pleasure of attending and presenting at the “By the Book” publishing studies conference which was jointly organised by Benoît Berthou (Sorbonne Paris Cité University), Miha Kovač (University of Ljubljana) and Angus Phillips (Oxford Brookes University) and held on May 23 and 24. The conference location was beautiful—and it was my first time to Italy—but the best part was listening to the exciting research that is taking place internationally in the publishing studies field. The conference brought researchers from the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Croatia, Lithuania and even South Africa. The focus of the conference was “the book and the study of its digital transformation” but the presenters approached this wide topic from various angles relating to their own experiences in publishing and academic areas of expertise.

This was my first experience presenting a paper at an academic conference. It was a perfect conference to be my first because it was small and intimate, with researchers who were all interested in publishing. I spoke about books as souvenirs, using data I collected from observing the bookselling practices of gift shops at heritage sites in Scotland, particularly those sites run by Historic Scotland.

Stevie Mardsen, fellow PhD Publishing Studies student from the University of Stirling, also presentedFlorence at the “By the Book” conference. Not only was her presentation stellar, but it was comforting to have a friend at the conference right from the beginning. Stevie’s PhD research is focused on the Saltire Society’s literary book awards and so her presentation addressed the importance to some judges to have a physical copy of the book for judging and how this affects the judging process.

All in all, a wonderful experience! There was talk at the end of the conference about holding a similar conference next year, and if so, I will certainly be in attendance.