Internships Anonymous @ Publishing 101

March 13th, 2017 by rachel_mccann | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Internships Anonymous @ Publishing 101
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Internships Anonymous panel at the recent SYP Scotland’s Publishing 101 conference (3rd March 2017) provided some valuable insight into ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ of publishing internships.

Unfortunately, paid internships are hard to find in publishing, which is problematic as it limits the number of people who can afford to undertake unpaid internships. However, it can’t be denied that internships are vital in gaining experience, and give you an edge in applying for publishing jobs so it is helpful to try and do as many as possible.

Luckily, the Internships Anonymous panel provided a number of tips to help you secure that all-important internship:

  • Get in touch! Some places such as the Scottish Book Trust don’t advertise their internships, so there is no harm in sending an email to enquire;
  • Attend as many events as possible: this way you can keep up to date with everything that is happening in the industry. Most importantly, use these events as networking opportunities and talk to as many people as you can. Who knows where a simple conversation could lead?
  • Volunteer where and when you can: book shops and book festivals are excellent opportunities to learn more about the industry. If you have any free time, then you have time to find some relevant experience;
  • Remember: all experience is relevant experience, so just keep volunteering and applying for everything.

The following are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your internship, once you’ve managed to pin one down:

  • Remember that you are not there to do someone else’s job for them: you are supposed to be learning, not replacing a paid position;
  • Stuffing envelopes, making tea and walking the manager’s dog are not publishing skills, and therefore are not acceptable for an internship (no matter how cute the dog is);
  • Show off your talent and passion. Make the most of your time with the company and they will remember you;
  • The Scottish publishing industry is small and it is important to remember that everyone knows each other and talks to each other about their interns. That means if you impress in an internship, it could lead to something else. Likewise, if you make a bad impression, it could impact further internship and employment opportunities;
  • Proper guidance and feedback is crucial because you won’t learn anything otherwise. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if you are being asked to do something you are unfamiliar with. It’s better to ask for help than to mess up completely.

In some instances, an internship can result in a paid job, but does that make a bad internship worth it? The final, and most important, piece of advice from the Internships Anonymous panel was that it is ok to say no, especially if you feel like you’re being exploited, or what you are being asked to do makes you uncomfortable.

– By Rachel McCann


Visiting Speaker: Dr Sam Rayner

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


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!




The First in Our Visiting Speakers Series, 2014-15

October 7th, 2014 by Kiley Pole | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The First in Our Visiting Speakers Series, 2014-15
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

On Thursday October 2, we had the first in our visiting speakers series. Chani McBain, Leah McDowell and Nadia Suchdev provided us with a plethora of information on not only their specified topics but also their experiences in the publishing industry.

To start the session off Leah McDowell and Nadia Suchdev introduced us to the Society of Young Publishers Scotland (SYP). We learned how the organization is run by volunteers with the aim to help and inform those who have been in the publishing business for less than 10 years, or those like us who are attempting to break into the business. SYP Scotland offers different events and workshops available to members (to become a member it costs £24 per annum) that help put their name out there and start the all dreaded networking. Included in the membership is free entry to all events, a newsletter, job bulletins, discounted tickets to the annual SYP Conference and participation in the mentoring programme.

Some of upcoming events include, “How to network for those who hate networking” on October 23rd and the Booksellers Panel Event on November 19th.

Leah and Nadia also encouraged us to not only join, but apply to become committee members. As a member of the committee you would have a hand in putting on the events throughout the year that really help people.

You can find them on Facebook SYP Scotland and on Twitter @SYPscotland.

Chani McBain spoke to us about Floris Books and more specifically the internship available from them. She gave us some useful advice about using our time in the course to make those connections and getting a lot of different experience in the different fields of publishing. Her main tagline about internships being that we might be wrong. In our heart of hearts we may think we are meant to be editors when in reality we are best suited for production or marketing, that really we could love a field that we never thought possible.

The internship at Floris Books is one day a week (which day that is they are flexible and willing to work with us) in a “marketing focused” capacity. That does not mean that the intern (one this semester and one next) will solely be stuffing envelops, although that is part of it, but that they will be working on press releases, marketing briefs, and flyers to name a few. Since Floris Books is a small company, composing of 11 employees, the interns will have the opportunity to witness and be part of many small projects and get to see the whole publishing process.

What Floris lacks in number of employees they make up for in their plethora of teas to chose from.

These three ladies gave us lots of useful advice, stemming from their experiences as newcomers to the industry and from when they were students as well. Namely, that internships are good, if not essential in getting to know the business as well as getting to know yourself. Are you really an editor? Or, are you a literary agent? This is our industry, it pays to become involved. Take advantage of every opportunity, not just internships but events, panels, book and literary festivals. And, when it comes dissertation time, choose a topic that is useful, something that not only will inform you about the industry but something that is geared to the type of job you want.

By the Book: thoughts on the conference

June 2nd, 2014 by | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on By the Book: thoughts on the conference
Tags: , , , ,

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.

Publishing Scotland Conference 2012

April 2nd, 2012 by Sara_Gardiner | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Scotland Conference 2012
Tags: , , ,

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.

Book Cultures, Book Events Conference

October 23rd, 2011 by | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Book Cultures, Book Events Conference
Tags: , , ,

Proposals for papers now being accepted. Deadline 6 January 2012.

The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, in collaboration with Queen Margaret University (Edinburgh), the University of Dundee, and Bookfestival Scotland announces the conference ‘Book Cultures, Book Events’, to be held at the University of Stirling from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 March 2012.

Plenary  speakers include: Dr Danielle Fuller of the University of Birmingham

Call for Papers:

A significant development in the environment of literature and the book at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries has been the growth of literary festivals and book towns. As part of the literary marketing mix, book festivals and towns offer publishers the opportunity to promote their authors and sell their products. Such locations also provide physical and sociological spaces in which readers encounter writers and literature, and become book consumers. Book festivals and towns have clear links to regional economies, and are heavily used in the promotion of tourist destinations, as testified by the strategic partnerships and sponsorship arrangements with a variety of agencies. As part of this process, concepts of cultural identity are forged and commodified, conjoining literature to cultural heritage, the creative industries and political ideology. In the era of new media and digital delivery, the opportunity to meet authors and fellow readers face-to-face, to buy books and other merchandise, and to align a liking for literature with travel and tourism, is being taken up by hundreds of thousands of readers every year. Literary festivals and towns, while heavily promoted by digital marketing activities, afford physical meeting spaces for authors, books, readers and ideas.

To explore these events and environments, the Book Cultures, Book Events conference will bring together academic and student researchers from different disciplines with practitioners and stakeholders, to their contemporary perspectives and historical precedents. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • literature as live event
  • analyses of contemporary or historical book events, festivals, conferences and environments (including bookshop spaces)
  • the role of live events in the digital age
  • author/reader interactions at live events
  • literary travel, tourism and heritage
  • literary commerce and merchandising
  • book events and other media/cultural forms
  • partnerships and sponsorship
  • constructions of cultural identity via literature events
  • literature in the context of cultural heritage, the creative industries, and political ideology

Proposals for papers of 20 minutes are invited. Please send as an email attachment abstracts of 300-400 words, plus a biography of 100-150 words, by 6 January 2012, to: .

The conference is supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and as such registration costs for the conference will be minimal.

The conference is part of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Workshop Book Events: The Transnational Culture, Commerce and Social Impact of Literary Festivals, organised in association with the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication at the University of Stirling, Queen Margaret University, the University of Dundee and Bookfestival Scotland.

For any enquiries, please contact:

Project Assistant for Book Cultures, Book Events research

October 2nd, 2011 by | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Project Assistant for Book Cultures, Book Events research
Tags: , , , , ,

With funding from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Professor Claire Squires (Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication) and Professor David Finkelstein (Queen Margaret University) will be running a series of events on the topic of literary festivals and live book events in 2011 and early 2012, including an academic conference and practitioner/stakeholder-focused events. Project assistance is sought for the following roles:

Research and Administrative Assistant for events from late October 2011-March 2012. 60 hours @ £15 an hour. Skills and experience needed for the position:

  • Aptitude for events organisation and administration
  • Knowledge of and interest in contemporary publishing, literature and creative industries
  • Experience and/or aptitude for research in areas relating to the project

Research Assistant for completion of report and other outputs March-April 2012.

  • 20 hours @ £15 an hour. Skills and experience needed for the position:
  • Knowledge of and interest in contemporary publishing, literature and creative industries
  • Experience and/or aptitude for research in areas relating to the project

The roles can be combined. The work pattern is part-time and flexible on negotiation with Professor Claire Squires and Professor David Finkelstein and some of the work can be completed remotely; however, the assistant will need to be within commuting distance of Stirling and Edinburgh for project meetings and events.

To apply, please email Professor Claire Squires claire.squires [at] with a cv detailing your relevant experience, and a covering email by 14 October 2012. If you require further information, please also contact Claire Squires.

Further Details

RSE Workshop Book Events: The Transnational Culture, Commerce and Social Impact of Literary Festivals

A significant development in the environment of literature and the book at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries has been the growth of literary festivals and book towns. As part of the literary marketing mix, book festivals and towns offer publishers the opportunity to promote their authors and sell their products. Such locations also provide physical and sociological spaces in which readers encounter writers and literature, and become book consumers. Book festivals and towns have clear links to regional economies, and are heavily used in the promotion of tourist destinations, as testified by the strategic partnerships and sponsorship arrangements with a variety of agencies. In the era of new media and digital delivery, the opportunity to meet authors and fellow readers face-to-face, to buy books and other merchandise, and to align a liking for literature with travel and tourism, is being taken up by hundreds of thousands of readers every year. Literary festivals and towns, while heavily promoted by digital marketing activities, afford physical meeting spaces for authors, books, readers and ideas.

The project is funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and is run in association with the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication at the University of Stirling, Queen Margaret University, and Bookfestival Scotland .

Independent Publishing Events

May 30th, 2011 by | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Independent Publishing Events
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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 [@] and we will send you a registration link. More details are available from the Programme website.

London Book Fair trip 2011

April 14th, 2011 by | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on London Book Fair trip 2011
Tags: , , , ,

Staff and students from the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication have just returned from the London Book Fair 2011, held in Earls Court. We were based on the Publishing Scotland stand with publishers including Black and White PublishingLuath Press and Strident Publishing. Students helped out on the stand, fielding queries from other publishers, publishing service providers and would-be authors.

Students met with graduates from the course now working in the publishing industry, to hear about their career pathways and to get some invaluable careers advice, and also to share some memories of life at Stirling.

In comparison to 2010’s LBF, which was hit by the volcanic ash cloud, 2011 was buzzing, with record numbers of UK and international participants. One of the liveliest panel sessions during the three days of the fair debated whether there is a ‘talent time bomb’ in the publishing industry. Hosted by Skillset, the event was captured by live social media, including photos taken by Lauren Nicoll, a current student on the MLitt in Publishing Studies in Stirling.

We are Open for Business

February 23rd, 2011 by Karen_Margaret_Raith | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on We are Open for Business
Tags: ,

You can find our livetweets from the event @stirpublishing

On February 21st 2011, Publishing Scotland’s annual conference enticed many industry aficionados.  The event’s tagline was to ‘publish locally, and sell globally,’ and consequently discussions were geared towards international outlook and expansion.  Publishing Scotland chief executive Marion Sinclair urged us to locate our inner cowboy and head to the ‘Wild West.’  The opportunity is there to explore undiscovered territories and unearth potential markets; as such Scottish publishers should reflect, prioritise and cash in on prospective consumers.

The day was jam-packed with mixed metaphors as even key note speaker, Anne MacColl, advised us to be more like Mel Gibson than Rabbie Burns, or rather embrace ‘brave-heartedness’ versus being ‘wee sleekit, cowerin’, timorous beasties.’  She encouraged publishers to ‘embrace innovation’, which is daunting due to our fragile economy, fears over exchange rates and cultural barriers.  Yet, 99.7% of the world’s market is outside of Scotland, and this is too big a piece of pie, to be too polite and cautious to ask:  ‘Pleez Sur, canna hae sum mare?’

To journey overseas, it is crucial to have detailed knowledge of copyright and watertight contracts.  Lynette Owen was one of the resident celebs, to whom I am eternally grateful as her definitive work Selling Rights was my saviour in Padmini’s class.  But alas! Another tycoon stole the show.  Personal favourite was publishing veteran Zander Wedderburn of Fledgling Press whose audacious opinions enticed gasps and giggles.  Sharp as a razor, he maintained that lengthy contracts are time-consuming and convoluted, and criticised Waterstone’s distribution services.  While Wedderburn expertly runs his business on page long contracts for submissions compiled with pencil and paper,  the rest of us must regrettably move on from the ‘Halycon days’ of ‘beer, brandy, books and cigarettes’ and build up an appetite for risk.

However, Wedderburn was not the only one to bully the bookseller.  A certain gent wished to remain nameless as he highlighted the risk of Waterstone’s selling ‘stuff’.  After all, until 1998, John Menzies sold some books, some stationery, some…what were they? Eight tracks?  Whatever it was, they sold some stuff, and ultimately dissolved.  With Waterstone’s growing interest in selling ‘quality-book-related-product,’ perhaps history is repeating itself. As Waterstone’s sell items other than books, in contrast to how supermarkets branched into book retail, perhaps the next point of sale item at the register next to bookmarks and playing cards will be Coco-Pops and caviar…

Steve Bohme from Book Marketing Ltd was surprisingly the most beloved speaker.  Talentedly transforming statistics into a compelling speech, he used tennis analogies to divulge top-secret intelligence:  buoyantly breaking down complex facts into ‘drop shots, net falls and double faults.’  The ‘Dragon’s Den’ approach was presented by Bill Hamilton, who claimed that he will work as a mentor for publishing companies guiding them to growth, greatness and, dare I say, greediness.  CPIs Martin McCall broached the subject of e-books, and while his whole discussion was dense and informative, the proverbial penny dropped when he ascertained that digital shouldn’t merely be an ‘add on.’  Soon publishers will have to factor e-books into their initial strategies.

To sum up: the point is to keep calm – and get on with it.  Shake things up, after all, book and journal publishing in Scotland generates an estimated £343 million.  It isn’t a stagnant industry but a growing one, and the speakers at the conference, while celebrating Scottishness urged us to strategise, and lose a bit of that Scottish modesty.   Remember clichés, but don’t necessarily wear a ‘see you Jimmy hat’ to a meeting with a foreign agent.  You can’t cover a book in haggis, neaps and tatty stains -unless you’re at Waverley Books reaping the financial windfall that is Maw Broon’s Cookbook.  Therefore, take David Pirnie’s recommendation and ’aspire, innovate, invest and grow.’ Scottish publishers are ‘open for business,’ and if you forget all else, remember this – it’s time to ‘raise the bar.’

Karen Raith