SYP Conference 2012 – Beyond The Book, Opening Debate

Opening Debate: Game Changers

Julia Kingsford – Chief Executive, World Book Night

We kicked off the opening debate with a presentation from Julia Kingsford from World Book Night; they work to engage people who don’t regularly read in doing so and gave us some jaw dropping statistics on the literary state of the UK…

–          30-50% of people in the UK don’t read/are reluctant readers

–          16% of people in the UK are functionally illiterate

–          40% of the country are at level 1 in literacy (Grade D English GCSE or below)

–          This summer 43% of boys didn’t get a C or above in English GCSE

–          1 in 3 households in the UK don’t have a book in them

Julia is so passionate about getting paper books and stories into people’s lives, she has made it her mission to get people engaged with reading; she casually asked for feedback from this year’s WBN and got 75,000 words worth of replies – that’s enough to publish a book! She wanted to show how the print book has evolved as well as the digital advances in the industry.

Laura Austin – E-Book Manager, YUDU Media

Now we moved on to a presentation by Laura Austin at YUDU Media where she works with publishers to convert content onto digital platforms. She showed us iBooks Author, a fantastic app which allows anyone to create multi-touch, interactive books for the iPad. Laura explained that publishers have spent a lot of money trying to come up with something very interactive for iPad but iBooks Author is a cheaper and quicker way of developing apps which still allows interactivity. The great thing about iBooks is that it allows the Publisher to create their own digital content and make it tailor made to them so they can get the most out of the content. Laura mentioned she has been working with OUP on educational products and HarperCollins on the new Hobbit book – we can’t wait for that one! This really is an inspired idea for the future of books, inspiring a new generation with the iBook Author, thanks very much Laura for opening our eyes to this fantastic way of using content.

Sarah Taylor – Marketing Assistant, Matador

Sarah works for Matador, the UK’s leading self publishing imprint of Troubador Publishing and is particularly well placed to tell us about the growth of self-publishing (which is over 280% apparently). Due to this growth, self-publishing is becoming a saturated market where self-published authors are now attracting the attention of the traditional publishing industry. Matador focuses on high quality self publishing and works hard to create books that are indistinguishable from the rest – they also encourage authors to connect with their readers via the web and social media. Whilst Matador appreciate that technology helps what we do, eBooks are not free to produce and cheap options are usually badly edited and formatted; we don’t want to cut out print, it’s important to keep the market open so we’ll have books for years to come.

Trevor Klein – Head of Development, Somethin’ Else

Somethin’ Else is a content design/creation company; Trevor runs the digital development portfolio and works closely with record companies, games studios and publishers – including Faber, Transworld and Cannongate.  He explains and shows us examples of how publishing used to be single format – now we have new reading experiences on new hardware. Initially, new reading experiences were just translations of the old ones, now we have digital content to allow for a ‘hands on’ and interactive reading experience. The key point I think Trevor draws from his expert talk is that it is so important to understand your audience through data sourcing and learning how to compete for attention in the digital space.

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