Last Saturday we attended the fantastic SYP Conference at Oxford Brookes University. The day was jam packed with some excellent speakers from each corner of the industry as well as opportunities to network and meet new people.
For us (and probably for many others), the real highlight of the day was the keynote speech from Mr Youngsuk ‘YS’ Chi, Chairman of Elsevier and Director of Corporate Affairs for Reed Elsevier. YS gave an inspiring speech on his thoughts on the publishing landscape today and what young professionals should be thinking about at this stage in their career. To discuss the current publishing landscape, YS employed 10 ‘E’s that he felt best portrayed the current state of affairs: Electronic, Excessive, Easy, Expansive, Enigmatic, Experimental, Experiential, Ephemeral, Empathy and Eternal. Following this very interesting insight into the industry, YS opened up to the floor for questions about his life, career and how he got there. Key take home messages for us were: ask great questions, show passion, don’t be afraid to learn and ultimately surround yourself with people you trust and believe in.
Next we headed to the seminars where we learned about everything from current trends in academic publishing to how technology is used to continue to engage audiences; interactive apps and gamification models are increasingly being used as tools for e-learning within children’s, academic and educational publishing. Gaming is hugely motivational – people will engage and actively strive to voluntarily overcome unnecessary obstacles, with this in mind we can use psychology to turn gaming into in educational resource. Eric Huang of Made in Me talked about working with partners in order to get the most from technology and used the example of their new app – ‘Sneak’, nominated for a BAFTA award to engage children. The use of technology within publishing is definitely an opportunity, not a threat; we can use this to create an all round reading or learning experience with the ability to step away from the real world into an augmented reality type situation.
Technology was also another key topic in other seminars, however, rather than talking about how it can be used for creating engaging content, other industry experts discussed how it can be used to improve communication channels within the workplace. The ideas they put forward were how you can use social media platforms such as ‘Yammer’ that can be utilised across platforms and ensure employees feel like they have open forum to communicate company wide. Also, with the world rapidly changing, the more ‘informal’ modes of communication can be better for actually making sure you reach your colleagues and they pay attention and can see missives from whatever type of device they are using.
It was now the end of the day and we headed to the main lecture hall for the final panel with the topic still to be revealed. When we arrived, it was announced that Matthew Cashmore, Digital Director at Blackwell’s, Alex Ingram, career bookseller, and Lindsey Mooney, of Kobo, would be on the panel discussing the future of publishing sales with Samantha Missingham, Head of Events at HarperCollins, moderating.
Following Matthew’s engaging presentation, the panel quickly devolved into a lively debate regarding the future of publishing sales and whether it’s possible to compete with Amazon. Matthew’s analogies ranged from huskies to music, radio to TV and on into film. Matthew became impassioned and insisted that “YOU CAN” beat them within your niche market.
What it all boiled down to was something that was also touched on in an academic seminar held earlier in the day: whilst we must adapt to the change, it’s no reason to panic. Publishing has been around for over 300 hundred years and knows how to change and survive – and we’ll do it again. This also relates back to YS’s ‘Eternal’ ‘E’ from the morning and is something that publishers have started to remind themselves and each other, leading to such a great feeling of excitement and hope for the future.
It is a fantastic time to be in the industry; as YS said – the publishing landscape is ‘eternal’, there is a lot that is changing but the book itself is not going to go anywhere. We should use digital transformation as an opportunity – there has never been a more exciting time to be in publishing.
Here at Inspired Selection, we are passionate about the publishing industry; we talk about publishing, read about publishing and attend all major publishing events like the one you’ve just read about. We would love to meet you at events so do feel free to come up and introduce yourselves! If you’re interested in opportunities within publishing do keep in touch and register for our Vacancy Update Service as well as keeping up to date with us on Twitter