Faber Digital

Gaelic Books Council Scholarship report – Liam Crouse

February 9th, 2015 by cs48@stir.ac.uk | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Gaelic Books Council Scholarship report – Liam Crouse
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Liam Crouse, the first recipient of the Gaelic Books Council Scholarship, reports on his award:

Profile-Publishing1My initial interest in Scottish Gaelic literature was fostered during my undergraduate degree in Celtic and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. Two forms of prose, the short story and the novel, were instrumental by both fostering my linguistic ability and cementing my interest in Gaelic-language literature. Following graduation, during my return home, my once fluent conversational skills began to ebb. However, by engaging with the modern literature, I was able to keep some semblance of fluency. It was during this period that I recognised the importance of literature to minority languages – not only in terms of cultural value, but also to foster usage and regeneration.

Unlike the English-language publishing industry, in the Gaelic world we need more – more books, more authors, more publishers, more support. That was one of the reasons for creating the Gaelic Books Council scholarship. Initiatives within the past decade have focused on populating the literary corpus with quality works of prose. All the while continuing with those initiatives, new efforts are being exerted towards developing publishing capacity.

Through the course at the University of Stirling, I have gained an industry-oriented knowledge-base of the publishing industry, both in Britain and abroad. Courses in marketing strategies, business acumen, digital skills and publishing dynamics complemented each other in insightful and appealing ways. These skills were brought together in my publishing project – a geospacial app mapping out the life of the celebrated Gaelic poet Duncan Bàn MacIntyre along the West Highland Way, for which I was awarded the Faber & Faber prize for digital innovation. Towards the conclusion of the course, my thesis concerning the market for Gaelic books allowed me to investigate the multifaceted industry in a way which combined my zeal for the language with my interest in business and marketing practice.

Throughout the course, I gained first-hand experience working with publishers both big and small. The Gaelic Books Council arranged two internships at Gaelic-language publishers, one in Stornoway (Acair)and the other in Highland Perthshire (Grace Note Publications). While working with Grace Note, I helped in the translating of a children’s book which just recently was published in late November. I also secured an internship at the multinational publisher, HarperCollins, working on bilingual dictionaries. The contrast between large and small, multinational and local, and English and Gaelic made for interesting comparison.

I further became involved in Gaelic publishing in a more entrepreneurial spirit in December 2013, when news broke about the termination of Gaeldom’s sole magazine. A small group of enthusiasts and I rose to the challenge and established the first e-zine in the language called Dàna. The past year has been immensely enjoyable and enlightening, allowing me to directly apply many points from the degree. The e-zine is a tangible project with which I feel like I am helping to progress the language’s literature and we intend to continue developing the site’s outreach and influence in the coming years. It will certainly keep me busy!

The scholarship and degree have been both interesting and engaging. To those prospective publishing students: not only will it provide the keen librophile with a good balance of business sense, it will also equip you with the knowledge and connections that will allow you to thrive within the industry.

Note: Liam will shortly be taking up a post as Gaelic Development Office at Ceòlas Uibhist Ltd.

The Electric Bookshop, the October edition

November 18th, 2012 by Verena Bauer | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Electric Bookshop, the October edition
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After hearing in class about the Electric Bookshop, the 10th of October saw me heading to Edinburgh, excited about the new digital developments I was going to be introduced to.

The first guest of the night was writer Gavin Inglis, who is known for his work with Writers’ Bloc and who now presented to us his new interactive game which is called Eerie Estate Agent. We were first introduced to his childhood memories that had inspired him for his latest work – adventure books like Sugarcane Island and The Black Dragon that gave the reader the possibility to make their own choices, leading to different endings instead of a linear story. This idea was later followed by role-playing games such as “Dungeons & Dragons”. Adventure books and games were usually branded as being made exclusively for children, while there were only parodies available for adults – a situation that displeased Inglis. In the 1980s, video games like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy appeared as the forerunner of today’s games and apps – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has recently been published as an interactive app that includes the original text but also introduces reader’s choices. This led Inglis to write his own interactive fiction, focusing on the reader’s decisions that “have to be meaningful” and have to matter as an integral part of his Eerie Estate Agent game. The app is very trendy as several adventure series have recently been reissued. Customers can play a trial chapter before buying the app on www.choiceofgames.com.

The next guests of the night were Henry Volans, Head of Digital Publishing at Faber and Faber, and Max Whitby from Touch Press (via Skype). They introduced T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, which they published as an app, allowing the reader not only to access the text but also the original manuscript, often with notes by Ezra Pound, as well as notes on references and historical allusions. The highlight, however, is the option to watch a video performance of the poem or listen to six different audio readings. The speakers’ next collaboration (together with Illuminations and The Arden Shakespeare) was on Shakespeare’s Sonnets, which is for them a new and “better way to present literature than the e-book market.” It is thus not just an enhanced e-book, but an app that contains all the 154 sonnets, in the modern edition as well as in a facsimile of the 1609 Quarto edition; a commentary by Don Paterson; and the Arden notes on language, historical facts, and vocabulary, synchronized with the lines you are reading. In addition to that, you can take your own notes or watch the sonnets being performed by one of 42 people, such as Sir Patrick Stewart, David Tennant, or Fiona Shaw. It even has a sharing function for social media such as Facebook or Twitter.

As several of the guests remarked, the app is quite expensive at the price of £9.99; a further drawback is that it can only be used on iPads. However, as a graduate of English Literature, I would love to get the app (if only I was one of the proud owners of an iPad) and I am sure it is very useful to students and academics.

The 8th Electric Bookshop introduced me to exciting new developments and interesting people, so I can only recommend to everyone to go to their next session in January 2013 – I definitely will!