MLitt Publishing Studies students visit BookSource distributors in Glasgow

October 9th, 2013 by Clemence Moulaert | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on MLitt Publishing Studies students visit BookSource distributors in Glasgow
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You walk into a bookshop (if you still do that sort of thing), you pick up a book that looks interesting; with a bounce in your step, you take it to the till, you buy it; you take it home and disappear into it for a few hours. A delightful experience — but do you ever wonder about the journey that book has taken to get to you?

Before it gets to the bookshop it goes through a distributor, a step most readers will not be familiar with. The postgraduate students on the current MLitt Publishing Studies programme recently visited BookSource in Glasgow to learn more about the distribution process, to visit the warehouse and find out how this book distributor is coping in our troubled industry.

BookSource, one of the UK’s foremost book distributors for independent publishers, has existed since 1995 and thrived since then — up until the digital revolution and Amazon, that is.  These last two factors mean that the distribution step is no longer as important as it used to be, and in the future might even be obsolete.

The staff at BookSource are well aware of the dangers facing their business. Managing information is key to their survival: they must be on top of the latest innovations at all times and re-imagine their business strategy in order to remain a fierce competitor on the market. Tapping into the digital book distribution market is a big part of their new business plan. Nevertheless, they are aware of the limitations: ‘I think it will be a sad, sad day when we start making children’s e-books,’ says Davinder Bedi, director, managing director at BookSource.


Davinder believes that Scottish Independence is another threat looming on the horizon. With borders possibly closing off a huge market for BookSource, their business may not survive at all. Publishers like being physically close their books—if Scotland becomes a country on its own, who is to say that British publishers will want to do business outside of their country? Davinder is pessimistic: he doesn’t think the Scottish market is big enough to survive on its own.

Where will BookSource stand in five years’ time — will it even stand at all? Will the warehouse close down or will it be unrecognisable, totally adapted to a wholly changed industry? One thing is for sure: BookSource is determined to try and re-invent themselves before throwing in the towel. The publishing industry must take example from BookSource: we must be perceptive, inventive, and most of all ruthless visionaries to thrive in the digital age.

Saltire Society Publisher of the Year Award Shortlist

August 13th, 2013 by | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Saltire Society Publisher of the Year Award Shortlist
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The Saltire Society Publisher of the Year Award has announced its inaugural shortlist, which features BackPage Press, Barrington Stoke, Edinburgh University Press, Floris Books, Freight Books, and Saraband Books.

The Saltire Society comments that the shortlist ‘exemplifies the dynamic and ground breaking work being done by Scottish publishers to engage new readers and take on new challenges, making sure Scottish publishing stand out both nationally and internationally. The mixture of SMEs and larger more established enterprises show how Scottish publishers are making bold and imaginative work in a changing world of publishing, irrespective of their size, age or the pressure to continue on with established working methods.’

Professor Claire Squires, Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication has been one of the judges for the inaugural award. The winner will be announced later this month at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The full press release is available from the Saltire Society website.

Recipient of first Gaelic publishing scholarship announced

July 10th, 2013 by | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Recipient of first Gaelic publishing scholarship announced
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The recipient of the first Gaelic publishing scholarship established by the Gaelic Books Council and the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication at the University of Stirling has been announced.

Liam Crouse, a recent graduate of the University of Edinburgh, is the first recipient of the fully-funded scholarship for the MLitt in Publishing Studies for session 2013-14.

Rosemary Ward, Director of the Gaelic Books Council said: “The Gaelic Books Council is very pleased with the level of interest that has been shown in the Gaelic publishing scholarship and we are delighted to be offering the first scholarship to Liam Crouse. Liam has illustrated that he is an exemplary student having gained a First Class Master of Arts with Honours degree from the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. The Gaelic Books Council is satisfied that he will apply the same commitment, creativity and diligence to his MLitt studies and we anticipate that he will make a valuable contribution to Gaelic publishing in the future.”

She added: “This scholarship was established in the first instance to attract new talent into the sector and to begin the process of increasing capacity. Liam is certainly a talented young man with a strong commitment to the Gaelic language and a secure knowledge of Gaelic literature and publishing and we wish him every success with his studies.”

When the scholarship was offered to him, Liam said: “I am absolutely delighted to be offered this important Gaelic scholarship. It is a wonderful opportunity. In the last ten years, Gaelic literature and publishing has made remarkable progress through various initiatives to support new Gaelic writers. The focus must now be on strengthening the Gaelic publishing infrastructure. The revitalisation of the Gaelic language and the development of Gaelic publishing presents many challenges, and I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to become involved in this important work.”

Professor Claire Squires, Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication said: “We’re very pleased to be working with the Gaelic Books Council to provide this opportunity for a Gaelic-language student on the MLitt in Publishing Studies at Stirling. We are delighted to welcome an outstanding student who brings a passion for the Gaelic language and an international perspective both to the Publishing Studies course and to the Gaelic-speaking community.”

Liam will study at the University’s Stirling campus in session 2013-14 and the Gaelic Books Council will secure appropriate placements for him with Gaelic publisher(s).

More information about the Scholarship is available here.


Carnegie-Cameron Taught Postgraduate Bursaries

June 13th, 2013 by | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Carnegie-Cameron Taught Postgraduate Bursaries
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In addition to the Merit Scholarships for Taught Postgraduate students, the University is also advertising four Carnegie-Cameron Taught Bursaries for 2013-14.

Students of Scottish birth, of Scottish extraction (with at least one parent being born in Scotland), or having been resident in Scotland for a period of at least three years for the purposes of secondary or tertiary education, are eligible to apply for the Carnegie-Cameron Taught Postgraduate Bursary. The Bursary aims to support: ‘taught postgraduate Masters that will enhance students’ employability in their chosen field, develop their specialist skills, or supplement existing ones, thus bettering their career prospects. The Bursaries should not be considered as a stepping stone for further study at PhD level and preference will be given to candidates with a clear career plan outside academia.’ – and hence are very applicable to the MLitt in Publishing Studies. The criteria are based upon a combination of merit, promise and financial need. The bursaries cover tuition fees of up to £3750 per student.

Further details available here. The deadline is 28 June 2013.



Gaelic Publishing Scholarship

April 15th, 2013 by | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Gaelic Publishing Scholarship
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A new Gaelic publishing scholarship is launched by the Gaelic Books Council and the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication at the University of Stirling.

The fully-funded scholarship is open to candidates with fluent written and spoken Scottish Gaelic, on Stirling’s industry-leading MLitt in Publishing Studies programme for the session 2013-14.

Rosemary Ward, Director of the Gaelic Books Council said: “The Gaelic Books Council is delighted to be working in collaboration with Stirling to offer this exciting Gaelic scholarship opportunity.

“The demand for Gaelic publications continues to increase as a result of the growing number of pupils attending Gaelic Medium Education and the ever increasing number of adult learners. Investment in this sector is essential if existing Gaelic publishers are to cope with growing demand.”

She added: “This scholarship will attract new talent into the sector and begin the process of increasing capacity and knowledge transfer.”

Professor Claire Squires, Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication said: “We’re very pleased to be working with the Gaelic Books Council to provide this opportunity for a Gaelic-language student on the MLitt in Publishing Studies at Stirling.

“The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication has always been closely connected to the Scottish publishing industry, and many of our students have gone on to develop successful careers within it. On the programme, students develop hands-on skills and business acumen, and also an understanding for the wider cultural and social contexts of publishing.

She added, “We also strongly encourage our students to develop an entrepreneurial approach to publishing, and we envisage that this partnership with the Gaelic Books Council will have a positive impact on the development and sustainability of the Gaelic publishing scene.”

The successful student will study at the University’s Stirling campus and the Gaelic Books Council will secure appropriate placements with Gaelic publisher(s). Additionally, the Gaelic Books Council will act as adviser for the student’s Publishing Project and Dissertation which is required to have a Gaelic focus.

The deadline for applications for the Gaelic scholarship is Friday 31 May 2013. Further details are available here: Gaelic Books Council scholarship further details (pdf).

Student article in Publishing Research Quarterly

January 12th, 2013 by | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Student article in Publishing Research Quarterly
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Rachel Noorda (nee Chase) has recently published an article in leading international journal Publishing Research Quarterly.

Her article, ‘International Success: Selling Niche Titles Beyond the Prime Home Market’, is based on her MLitt in Publishing Studies dissertation, which she completed last year. Within a specifically Scottish context, but with relevance to small and niche publishers around the world, Rachel’s article assesses how niche titles can find global success. She uses examples drawn from her research with Scottish publishers including Edinburgh University Press, Floris, and Freight Books.

Rachel’s article is available from Publishing Research Quarterly (2012) 28: 359–36.

Claire Jeffery, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2012-2013

December 2nd, 2012 by Claire Jeffery | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Claire Jeffery, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2012-2013
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I appear to have come to publishing in a very roundabout manner. I loved books as a child but, as I grew up, I switched to reading stories written online – even when electronic books were still just a fanciful concept. Because of this I have a certain love of eBooks and find digital publishing fascinating. Even then, I still considered publishing to be an unrealistic dream and decided to get a sensible degree in the “easy” subjects of Economics and Chinese.

And what I discovered was that these subjects only got me more interested in studying publishing. Who couldn’t look at an Economics presentation and worry mainly about the consistency of the slides? And in translation, who wouldn’t become more fascinated by the subtleties of their own language when attempting to translate from another? While studying abroad, I visited museums with old manuscripts and wandered through shops with the latest technology. I came back home determined to find a way in which my background in business and language could get me into publishing.

And so here I am. Entering the publishing market on the cusp of industry-defining changes. And I couldn’t be more excited for what the future holds.


“Punching above our weight in an international arena”: selling international rights with Canongate

April 2nd, 2012 by Nuria_Ruiz | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on “Punching above our weight in an international arena”: selling international rights with Canongate
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The Publishing Studies Visiting Speaker series got off to an excellent start this March as Andrea Joyce, Associate Rights Director at Canongate, paid a visit to demystify the mysterious world of selling international rights. Although a medium-sized house in the world of Scottish publishing, we soon discovered that Canongate has a real international presence through its titles; in Andrea’s own words, they punch above their weight in the global arena. Oh, and we learned just what working in rights encompassed too!

Andrea noted almost immediately that the rights department can easily be undervalued and overlooked in publishing, and she made a salient point. Of the 100 top selling UK titles in 2011, only 6 were in translation. Not the best advertisement for the absolute wealth of beautiful foreign writing out there. Our own rights experience as MLitt students came as a small part of a module on publishing dynamics, unlike our marketing and editorial modules which were self-contained. During an earlier visit from Skillset’s Suzanne Kavanagh, not one of us stood up and proclaimed an undying passion for selling translation rights and drafting co-edition licenses (but then again, not one of us wanted to be a bohemian editor of poetry either). So it was interesting to hear that this attitude is not only part of the student experience; part of the problem, argues Andrea, is that publishers might assume they don’t need the profit generated by rights sales, and that literary agents feel they are better placed to handle an author’s rights than their publisher. This is not always the case, certainly not for Canongate, and Andrea made a compelling and convincing case for the integral place of rights in their publishing strategy.

Publishing authors from all across the world, and conversely getting their own authors published in forty-five countries, is a “great source of strength” to Canongate. Certainly, the figures seem to back this up. In 2011, the rights team struck 202 deals across 45 countries, up from 175 in 2010 and 150 in 2009. Europe is their major market, with Germany claiming 20 per cent of deals, Italy 14 per cent and France 13 per cent (by value). Selling international rights has also allowed Canongate to venture into the competitive US publishing market, launching with established publisher Grove/Atlantic and already claiming 9 per cent of deals by value.

So what’s the secret to success in the international rights market? Timing, timing, timing was Andrea’s first piece of advice. We live in an increasingly interconnected world; people everywhere know when something new is launching and more importantly, they know where to get their hands on it if it’s not provided where they are – and thus bypassing territorial rights agreements and the publishing value chain altogether. With the gargantuan growth of Amazon, publishing simultaneously in the home language has proved crucial to ensuring Canongate’s rights success in countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. But more than this, it’s also about trusting your taste to timing. The Radleys, the international bestseller by Matt Haig, landed on Andrea’s desk as she was departing for the Frankfurt Book Fair. Timely, with its young adult crossover potential and paranormal setting, a short captivating read was enough to convince Canongate of its potential – and many other international partners too. In rights, you have to be flexible, speedy and creative in order to take advantage of an opportunity, which sounds pretty exciting in my book.

And this was Andrea’s parting shot; it’s actually an exciting time to be working in rights. If you don’t believe me when I say that she has me totally convinced about the value, necessity and importance of selling international rights, just think where we would be if this little guy hadn’t purred his way across the world …

– Nuria Ruiz

Aye Write! Festival 2012

March 16th, 2012 by Sara_Gardiner | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Aye Write! Festival 2012
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Opening day, Friday 9th March, the Aye Write! Festival in Glasgow began with an opening discussion from Mark Buckland, Cargo Publishing, Adrian Searle, Freight Books and Sam Best, Octavius Magazine discussing how to be a small publisher in Scotland. The main points discussed were funding and the abundance of emerging new talent coming from Scotland.

Sam discussed how Octavius was set up on a shoestring, primarily creating the magazine in an electronic form with a view to expanding into a physical format when their funding becomes more established. Octavius consists of four volunteers managing submissions from around the world. Sam explained how he was surprised and happy at the amount of writing talent that came from Scotland for the submissions, which has now had to close due to the innumerable amounts of new material they have received. Their first online magazine will launch in spring this year.

Mark also discussed the beginnings of his business, as a University graduate with a keen interest in books. His interest in publishing stems from his love of literature and interest in making the complete form. Mark discussed how he was a gardener with £800 in his pocket when he began Cargo, and made it into what it is today. In the present day, Cargo are linked with the Dundee International Book Prize and have recently announced their judge’s panel – Stephen Fry, Alan Bissett, Jenny Brown and Philip Pullman, with the winner of the prize being announced in October.

Mark candidly spoke of the industry and the realistic ways in which publishing needs to change. Cargo have begun the process by updating POD systems, which have now been taken on by the big publishing houses and the introduction of the Margins Book and Music Festival, to showcase new talent both in the publishing world and the music industry.

The day became an opportunity to talk to other publishers and listen to the seminars provided by Aye Write! Many writers were also keen to see if they could get their manuscripts read by companies while also acquiring a few free sweets at the same time.

– Sara Gardiner

Publishing Scotland Annual Conference 2012

March 4th, 2012 by Victoria_Sugden | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Scotland Annual Conference 2012
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This year the Publishing Scotland Annual Conference took place at Edinburgh’s Royal College of Physicians on Monday 27 February. Following registration and a number of freebies, an assortment of publishing professionals and students congregated in the main auditorium (at a somewhat vertiginous height!) ready to catch the pearls of wisdom thrown their way.

After a warm welcome from the Chair and Chief Executive of Publishing Scotland, Bob McDevitt and Marion Sinclair, the conference was in motion. The most engaging speeches, for me, were delivered in the morning session. The key note speech came from Alan Clements, Director of Content at STV on ‘Future-Gazing-what’s in store for media and culture in the next few years.’ Clements pushed that in this day and age there is an issue of content, rather than the means of distribution in broadcasting and publishing. After all, “content is king” Clements later declared. Ultimately, Clements argued that publishing and TV should be more engaged than they already are. He also stated that Scotland has become the “other” in UK terms, thus publishers and TV should work together to create new Scottish-centric material.

Steve Bohme, Research Director of Book Marketing Ltd gave an insightful talk on key retail market trends. His decision to use a weddings metaphor in his slides was very effective but left some of us disheartened with the lack of real cake during refreshments…

Then came the presentation that was a firm favourite of mine, Social Media Consultant, Jon Reed speaking about ‘Publishing Direct-reaching readers online using social media.’ Social media is certainly proving to be one of the principle ways to reach consumers as Reed presented the staggering facts of there being two billion people online, 850 million on Facebook and approximately 500 million Twitter users worldwide! Reed was very insightful and revealed numerous ways to reap the benefits of social media marketing that many social media fiends would not even think of!

The afternoon sessions were less digitally focused but nonetheless enlightening with talks ranging from metadata (from Nielsen Bookscan) to Scottish library partnerships. At the end of proceedings Publishing Scotland kindly set up a Q&A session for us students, which gave us a valuable 45 minutes to grill those already in the industry.

My thanks go to Publishing Scotland for a fascinating and well-organised day.

– Vicky Sugden

Image by Sandy Young Photography