visiting speaker

Eleanor Logan and Chapter Twenty

November 24th, 2011 by Almudena_Santalices | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Eleanor Logan and Chapter Twenty
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On Thursday 17th, November the visiting speaker Eleanor Logan gave us an interesting talk about her professional career and the changes that have taken place in bookshops over the years particularly in Scotland.

Eleanor began her career in 1999 at the bookshop chain Dillons and saw firsthand how the majority of these bookshops were taken over by Waterstone’s and some were sold to its competitor Ottakar’s. She went to work for Ottakar’s, which was a small family business and in ten years, was lucky enough to see it grow from three or four shops to more than a hundred. “It was great fun to work with them and see how they grew”. In 2008 Waterstones absorbed Ottakar’s, “my enemy became my employer”. While she worked for Waterstones she did marketing, and retailing. “It was a strange situation, but very interesting and satisfactory since I had the opportunity to discover firsthand what happened in bookstores across the country”.

Early this year she reassessed what she wanted to do with her life and her job and she decided to create her own business: Chapter Twenty is the result – a marketing and events agency delivering innovative services to the book industry, authors and the public. She works with publishers to organise author events in Scotland and the North of England.

With Internet and new technologies people’s way of buying is changing. It is true that customers want value but they also want convenience, which is why Amazon is having such success. Eleanor issued a stark warning that because of these changes 25% of high street bookstores have closed “and with Borders gone, and only Waterstones left, and if this goes too, then we will only have WHSmith!”.

Eleanor has a clear view of how bookshops should work. Bookstores need to improve their image and their brand. For example, window displays should be updated, and events need to change, “we need to make them more interesting and not just about listening to the author”.  The Scotsman Literary Dinners, Book Festivals and World Book Night, all are good ideas to help readers engage with authors.

In Scotland there are vast areas with no bookshops which is why the Ottakar’s store in Oban set up a travelling bookshop. Now it has been taken over by Waterstone’s On Wheels, where they are keen to reconnect with the community.

Image by Weegie Wednesday

By Almu Santalices and Emma Dunn


Pitch Publishing

November 18th, 2011 by Katherine_Marshall | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Pitch Publishing
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On Thursday 3rd November, our visiting speaker was Jane Camillin, who gave us a fascinating insight into her company, Pitch Publishing.  In 2009 Jane, together with her brother, decided to set up the company following her redundancy from dictionary publisher Chambers.

Pitch Publishing is a sports publisher but with a distinctly local feel.  The publisher is characterised by its Miscellany and On This Day series; products of the company’s close working relationship with football and cricket clubs across the UK. Jane explained, that while the company’s main source of income comes from the sale of local titles, this has allowed them to take bigger risks with titles such as: Sporting Chancer: One Man’s Journey to Take on the Worldthe amusing story of one man’s attempts to gamble on various sporting events around the world. Their bestselling book to date, The Worst of Cricket, has been reprinted ten times since its original publication in 2008.

During her talk, Jane described the various aspects of running a successful publishing business and stressed the importance of: good cover design; market research; author contracts and, of course, P&Ls!  Although Jane’s background is in marketing, she admitted that she no longer has the time or resources to conduct huge campaigns for her titles choosing instead to only do the marketing “she needs to”.  Despite this, Jane is keen to exploit social media and encourage her authors to blog, tweet and generally keep in touch with their readers.

Jane’s insights were certainly refreshing, proving that even the most experienced publisher is constantly learning in this ever-changing industry.

Katherine Marshall