SYP Conference 2013

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.

SYP Conference pic

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

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FutureBook Conference 2013

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Last Thursday we headed over to the QEII Conference Centre, across the street from Westminster Abbey, for the annual FutureBook Conference where we had a full day ahead of us attending brilliant seminars and meeting some industry leaders.

After collecting our badges and a quick cup of coffee, we all headed into the Fleming Room for the opening remarks from Nigel Robey (CEO of The Bookseller Group) setting the context for the day as well as the three keynote speakers who all addressed Amazon (who is decidedly becoming less of an elephant in the room) and the future of book sales and publishing strategy. First up was Brad Stone, who has recently published a biography of Jeff Bezos, creator of Amazon, followed by Seni Glaister, CEO of the Book People, and then finally, Charlie Redmayne, until recently CEO of Pottermore and now the new CEO of HarperCollins.

We attended a wide breadth of seminars throughout the day but It became clear early on that a key topic of the day was going to be about ‘insight’ and understanding the consumer. Publishing for a long time has primarily had a B2B business model but now with technological advances, we have learned that there is a need to adapt our earlier models and focus more on connecting with the end customer and making sure we are developing consumer led innovation and products, rather than industry led. This was highlighted in the Partnerships That Scale seminar, with crowd funding a new way of publishing being pioneered by Unbound, where the audience and readers are responsible for the funding of books they wish to see publish. Patrick Brown from Goodreads highlighted how modern technology and consumer reviewing is playing an ever increasing role within the publishing world. Ashleigh Gardner, Head of Content at Wattpad explained how their platform represents another form of publishing with readers writing for readers and reviewing each other.

FutureBook Photo

The dangers of modern publishing were also demonstrated by Michael Tamblyn, C.E.O. of Kobo, who portrayed the events of their recent crisis in the form of a video game. Whilst humorous, Michael was able to cleverly describe how even with the promise of an increasingly digital future, there also come potential pitfalls, particularly with regards to overseeing self publishing platforms and communities.

The Big Ideas panel was particularly insightful. Rebecca Smart, the CEO of Osprey presented her idea of decreasing publishing’s absurdly long production time, allowing great flexibility and responding to market demands. Jamie Byng, CEO of Canongate, suggested that less is more, with producing fewer books of a higher quality being better than producing large commercial volume and Simon Trewin’s Hackathon for publishers idea was perhaps the highlight of this section.

All in all, it was a great day for learning about the cutting edge ideas and content currently being created by publishers. Perhaps most reassuringly, it felt like publishing and publishers are finally coming into their own in this digital age and becoming more proactive – rather than reactive. The atmosphere was hopeful and we can’t wait to be a part of and see what’s next!

For more information on opportunities within the publishing world or if you’d just like to chat about FutureBook, please don’t hesitate to check out our website or email us at admin@inspiredselection.com

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London Online Information 2013

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London Online Information 2013

The Collins Dictionary defines ‘Information’ as’ knowledge acquired through experience or study’ and after two days at the London Online Information Conference  – @OnlineInfo_13  – it became very apparent that what is important is not just the information itself but how we acquire it and what we are able to do with it. While this sounds daunting, it is actually very simple: all we need to do is ask questions.

Asking questions became a strong theme across the two days: we must interrogate our data, we must discover what our users do with our products, we must find out if our team has the necessary skills to use the data, we must query which information to focus on and which to filter out and we must ask what is possible and what is next?

From the initial keynote, we were encouraged to face up to the future and ask what we can do next. Mark Stevenson reminded us of the three types of technology: that which was invented before we were born, that which is invented between birth and the age of thirty-five and that which is invented after the age of thirty-five. While we are despondent to the first, we often get a job in or using the second and we are often terrified by the third. The Digital Revolution is not a new age to be scared of but rather a part of a continuing change in technology; a Digital Evolution. London Online exposed some fantastic responses to the possibilities that new technologies have posed by innovative businesses who are asking the right questions.

Something on everyone’s lips was: what is the role of the library in this Digital Evolution? Ellyssa Kroski, from the New York Law Institute, gave some great examples such as having a library card in the ‘mobile wallet’ and on demand services such as Hoopla, not to mention renting out the roofs as air space to generate extra revenue stream! Heini  Oikkoonen  from Helsinki City Library explained how asking questions of the users influenced their product development of the Pocket Library, an app which enables users to renew loans, loan from a friend and research the collection. Research showed that actually user to user lending was the least popular and people still enjoy the community atmosphere of the library. However new functions such as dating based on reading habits came out as something that users wanted to see! Innovative start ups such as Antigo seek to answer the question of the library’s new role through creating a platform for libraries to access publishers’ eBooks easily. Jonas Lennermo, CCO of Publit and founder of Antigo , explained how questioning why and how people consume digital content and the values they place on this as distinct from print, you can get closer to the answers and solutions you need.

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Asking the questions isn’t always simple and sometimes a lot of work needs to go on behind the scenes before we can do this. For example, if we type a question into Google, a huge amount of coding has happened so that we can have the answer. If we ask a user what they think of a product, a vast amount of tech work needs to take place for that product to be in prototype stage. Therefore, as a team we need to have technical understanding, market understanding and user understanding. With this blend of skills we can achieve real success and ride the wave of the Digital Evolution into the future. We’re not always going to get it right first time, after all information is knowledge gained through experience and some of the best learning experiences are from mistakes.

Be bold, face the future and ask!

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

What’s the future for publishing in the digital age?

On Monday night, the Ivy filled up once more for the last Byte the Book event of 2013. Entitled “What’s the future for publishing in the digital age?”, the theme of the night echoed that of so many events before it while it also wandered down a new avenue, that of the self-publisher’s status. With a two member panel, the event unfolded into a conversational discussion based on that one big question – do we need publishers anymore?

The panel consisted of Richard Charkin, Executive Director at Bloomsbury and recently appointed Vice President of the International Publishers Association, and novelist, Polly Courtney. The topic of the conversation revolved mainly around self-publishing and the way in which it has impacted on the industry. Polly spoke about how she feels that the publishing model that existed has changed a lot. It is her belief that publishers are more adverse to risk now and have been stung by a history of failed big print runs. It is only when they know they have a guaranteed hit novel that they will do the bigger print volumes now.

Richard disagreed with this point based on his own attendance at trade editorial meetings. Publishers are always seeking the next big thing and if they feel they have found it, they will invest. The term “nichefied” came up a few times, a term seemingly coined by Polly but which served to represent what many in publishing are now trying to say. Business has always been “nichefied” and those niches change all the time. Richard spoke about how in his experience, medical textbook sales have exceeded trade sales, making medical books desirable from a publisher point of view. He mentioned how publishers have to balance big authors out with smaller risks but they do still take risks. Polly spoke about the flexibility that self-publishing brings and how one can analyse data and act accordingly. Richard agreed that “the smaller the publisher, the more nimble they are”.

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While she is pro-independent publishing, people can cut corners and do it badly and this can give self-publishers a bad name. The literary world is now awash with content but not all of it is good and digital platforms, such as Amazon, can provide a way of navigating and filtering it all. Readers no longer rely on Editors and recommended reading lists, they can now filter online and filter out books they would like to read in that way. Much like self-publishing, this seems to be a method of self-filtering. However, a call for a raise of hands in the audience saw 50% of those who attended the event confirm that they still pay heed to recommended reading lists. A good review and a book award nomination can still be the deciding factor for a sale.

Online platforms provide authors with the best means to reach their audience; this has been discussed in so many events we have attended this year. Easy access to data and the opportunity to follow a mouse-click trail is so much quicker and allows authors to tap into their readers interest and, more importantly, identify those readers in the first place.

When asked what makes a good publisher, Richard Charkin recalled a mission statement he spotted at a German publishing house many years ago that, directly translated, read “Bertelsmann will continue”. He thought it was nonsense back then but now believes that what is vital to being a great publisher is the ability to stay in the business and be able to continually pay royalties. It boils down to having excellent authors who want to stay with you and who you make the effort to understand. That is what will make sure that publishers never fade away.

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

Women in Publishing – Production Speaker’s Event

On Wednesday evening, we braved the cold to attend the well known Women in Publishing monthly speaker event. This time the meeting was focussed around Production; its past, present and future and accordingly, Women in Publishing lined up two fantastic guest speakers: Fiona Mcintosh, Group Production Director at Orion Publishing Group and Louise Morrin Boyle, the former Vice President of Production at Haymarket Media in New York.

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Fiona kicked off the discussions and with a career that began in the late seventies, she was able to give a great overview of production through the decades and how the major advancements in technology have affected production processes and continue to do so today. According to Fiona, the biggest change has been in the physicality of the job; processes are now far more focussed on digital as well as increasing the overall efficiency and speed of completing projects. Whilst the processes and the end products have changed and diversified, the emphasis is still on the content. With the onset of digital, the initial feeling was that one day eBooks and other platforms might be the end of print; it is clear that consumers still enjoy the physical book and the mix of print and digital seem to be beginning to balance each other out as the market matures and becomes accustomed to both mediums. Louise discussed how exciting production can be as it gives you the opportunity to get involved in so many different aspects of the publishing process. It offers the chance not only to work on the preparation of content for print and digital publication, but to also be at the forefront of driving innovation with regards to the type of media platforms engaged and to influence the platforms that will be developed for content publication in the future.

Fiona went on to discuss skills required for candidates getting into a production role; it is an area that is less publicised than other sectors of publishing but one that is hugely rewarding. Production departments are crying out for organised, innovative and personable problem solvers who want to help others and support the fantastic content being produced. Louise entered into the industry with an enthusiastic and willing to work hard attitude; she would highly encourage anyone looking to build a career in production to share this attitude. She extolled her experience with production departments describing how if you show this willingness to learn, you will be given the opportunity to grow with the department and continually develop your skills. She also added that the production department is often described as the ‘glue’ that pulls together all the different departments and individuals involved within the organisation to create the final product.

We are in such an exciting time within the industry at the moment, as Fiona pointed out, we are in the middle of that point that people will look back upon and say, ‘this is where everything changed’. This is our opportunity to make our mark and to influence the exciting future ahead in how people consume content for years to come.

For more information on production roles and to discuss the type of skills publishers are looking for, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via our website or at admin@inspiredselection.com.

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