An Inspired Guide to the Frankfurt Book Fair!

Excitement is building for this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair and here at Inspired Selection, our FBF team is busily scheduling in meetings with all our attending clients and brushing up on their German phrases!

Our Deputy Managing Director, Donald Smith, is a seasoned Book Fair attendee and has put together an engaging summary along with some top tips to all those who are jetting off next week. This is the first in a series of lead-up campaigns we are running so do keep an eye on our Twitter page too! #FBM14

AN INSPIRED GUIDE TO THE FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR (BUCHMESSE), by Donald Smith

So, it’s your first visit to one of publishing’s major events of the year! If you’re in Trade or Education publishing you’re likely to be making that long walk from the Book Fair entrance to Hall 8 or if your interest is in Academic or STM publishing you could be looking for Hall 4.2.

Once on site you will realise that there are quite a few different halls dealing with different publishing cultures from around the globe (that’s why the big publishers are called ‘global’).

There are a number of mini buses which travel between each of the halls, so if you get some free time, be sure to take a trip outside and you might find an open air market or two for some souvenir hunting!

The key point about the Frankfurt Book Fair is that it is a real centre of activity in the sale of rights between publishing companies worldwide and a terrific forum for publishing people to meet, formally and informally, and to attend a wide variety of seminars and talks about issues which are relevant to the industry today, e.g. Big Data, Open Access, Digital Publishing, Amazon ……..etc.

Most publishing companies will have a large presence of Rights sales staff, seated at tables on their stands and have walls displaying new products, existing products and increasingly screens to present their digital offerings.

Mostly the Rights team will have back to back meetings on half hourly pre-booked appointments with their customers.

If you are going as a Rights Assistant, then this is where you get the opportunity to meet and mingle with many of your international customers and learn the basics of your future career.

How can you find a potential customer to sell the rights in your new product in Brazil? How do you find someone to buy the overstocks of your English language titles in sub-Saharan Africa?

Come to Frankfurt Book Fair!

Each Hall has a plethora of coffee, snack and sandwich stations plus a few seated areas. Find the nearest one to your stand and this will help orientate you so that you can find your way back to the stand!

As a visitor to the Book Fair for the first time, you don’t have to be fluent in German (although it is an advantage) but worth having the following available:

Wo ist Halle acht                             Where is Hall 8

Ein kaffe bitte                                   A coffee, please

Zwie bier bitte                                  Two beers, please

Quittung                                            Receipt (for the above, dinner, taxi)

checklist

So, all set? Bags packed? Dummies ready? Sales material to hand? Got your Euros?

Enjoy your first Frankfurt Book Fair and remember, next year you’ll be an expert!

 

The Future of Science Publishing

On Tuesday night we made our way to the Glasshouse, Macmillan’s new offices at King’s Cross, where September’s Future of Science Publishing event was held. The event, run by WriteLatex, was sponsored by Scholarly Social and London Open Drinks and, as always, it was interactive, informative and show-cased innovation in scientific publishing. It consisted of six short presentations by entrepreneurs in the industry, all of whom have founded, co-founded or work for start-ups in the STM publishing and research industry.

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First up was Sumika Sakanishi, Product Manager at the Open Data Institute. Sumika spoke to us about the company’s promotion of “open movement” and their aim to “catalyse the evolution of open data culture”. It was an engaging summary, focusing on fostering collaboration, peer review, cost efficiency and innovation and new insights. Users of this resource gain an open access certificate and can avail of a self-guided questionnaire. They publish data, earn their certificate and then embed their badge; their data is now truly open. Questions from the audience challenged aspects of the business plan but overall, it seems successful with over 100 published certificates already recorded and this figure set to rise.

Natalie Jonk of Walacea took to the podium next to tell us about her brainchild, a crowd-funding platform for scientific research. The current problems she identified in the area of funding include age, politics, bureaucracy and the public lack of awareness. She aims to bridge these gaps with her start-up and encourage scientists with good research plans to work with them and gain funding for their projects. They help to create campaigns for these researchers, engaging with audiences to fund the research and taking a 5% commission on all projects they successfully aid. The goal is to engage the public with scientific research and, besides some natural early teething problems, this is an inspirational and commercially-savvy business model and we look forward to catching up with Walacea in the future to see their success grow.

Cofactor’s Anna Sharman spoke to us about her journal selector tool. With competitors including JANE, Edanz and Springer and Elsevier run platforms, Anna has moulded her online offering to address all the issues she has found with similar tools and aims to offer an appealing alternative. She focuses on manual curation, the simple addition of journal data and a focus on a broad scope of open access journals.

Andrew Dorward stepped in at the last minute, replacing a colleague, to present his online model, Book Genie. This is a research engine for “books on the go” and aims to improve research in Higher Education. It matches candidate requirements with published content and uses social media to identify trends and preferences. It has a B2B and a B2C business model; the latter catering to students and universities and the former to individual publishers to help index their content. Book Genie takes a 40% cut on the published content they sell. Andrew followed on from this by mentioning the crisis in the area of academic textbooks across the US and UK.

Their aim to make relevant content more accessible and at a 40% cut is a positive response to publishers taking the Open Access movement into consideration; the cut Book Genie takes will not be as much as that which is triggered by OA. They have benchmarked themselves against several search engines and hope that their model addresses issues that exist across the market makes Book Genie the “iTunes of academic publishing”.

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Alan Hyndman of Figshare described how his venture started out as a platform for researchers to store, share, discover and research data. Their belief is that data should be available but that it also needs to look good. There is a DOI for everything uploaded to the platform and a range of tools for users to engage with, including “Figshare Viewer”, “Figshare Portal”, “Figshare Datastore” and “Figshare Innovations”. Figshare drives traffic to particular publishers’ sites and handles big data.

The final speaker of the night was Matias Piipari from Papers, “the citation tool of the future”. Through a series of demos, Matias showed us the workings of this model and how it allows users to communicate with other authors, retrieve references of interest and format citations. These “magic citations” can be used with practically any application and the goal is to establish it as a “quick launcher” for science.

It was a great evening, full of information and creativity. It is exciting to see the innovative ideas within the STM publishing industry and we cannot wait for the next event in the new year!

The Rise and Rise of Self-Publishing. How self-published authors are creating, publishing, marketing and selling their own titles successfully.

On Tuesday night we attended another successful and interesting Tech Tuesday – run by London Book Fair – event at the delightful Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch. The focus of the event was self-publishing and how it compares and contrasts with traditional publishing.  The panel consisted of Orna Ross, both self- and traditionally published author, and founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors, David Shelley, Publisher at Little, Brown, and Brenda Van Camp, CMO Blurb and Andrew Crofts, Author and Ghostwriter joined the Director of The London Book Fair, Jacks Thomas, for a debate on the Rise and Rise of Self-Publishing.

The evening saw the panel debate the positives and negatives of both self-publishing and traditional publishing. The discussion kicked off with Andrew Crofts explaining that in the first instance there were storytellers, then publishers who had the money to spread the stories and somewhere along the way it became more about the money being made and pleasing the publisher than about telling your story. Crofts explained that this advent of self-publishing is handing more power back to the storytellers and getting the stories out to the people who want to read them. This was one debate of many which divided opinions about traditional publishers and self publishers…. and one of many that led to the conclusion that however you publish, the reader must be your focus.

Tech T

This direct to consumer trend was one that flowed throughout the evening and as we’re into Social Media Week, the role that social media plays in publishing (self or otherwise) was a hot topic. Social Media allows authors to interact with the readers without the channel of the publisher or agent which is a fantastic recipe for self publishing. However we can’t forget that it also allows consumers to communicate back directly to the author or brand creating a true bond between reader and the source of the story. It’s not just a “Direct to Consumer” market, it’s also “Consumer Direct to Brand” one. This doesn’t need to stop with self publishers though and traditional publishers can take away from this a key message: that engaging with the readership will make a very powerful product proposition.

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In general, self publishing can be seen as a liberating and wonderful process in its own right but it can also be viewed as a challenge to the traditional publishers, encouraging them to step up their game. Self publishing breaks down several boundaries: how to market a product, what is “publish-able” content and even what makes a “book”. Publishers can’t be complacent. We must all be better at what we do and whatever we do, make sure that we don’t lose sight of our raison d’etre – bringing stories to readers.

Byte the Book – New Print Models – How is print adapting to the shifting consumer market in the Digital Age?

On Monday evening we attended September’s Byte the Book event at the beautiful Ivy Club in Soho where the topic of the night was how print is adapting to the shifting consumer market in the digital age.  Chairing the panel this time was Lisa Edwards, Publisher at Carlton with the panel consisting of Andrew Davies, Publisher at Immediate Media, formerly BBC Magazines,  Laila Dickson, Key Accounts Manager at Scholastic, Martin Spear, Reprints Controller at Osprey Books  and Maggie Calmels, Creative Global Development Director at Eaglemoss Publishing Group. This was a lively and jovial night, with the audience engaging with the key ideas well in the follow up questions.

The topics of the night included Bookazines, Partworks, Print on Demand and Special Sales as different forms of successful Print in the digital age. Martin Spear of Osprey publishing kicked off by talking about how Osprey, specialist producer of Military History books, is currently in the process of converting 2000 books to print on demand. He explained that in the past some products wouldn’t have been print published due to little interest but now with Print on Demand, it is possible to print these products for the small numbers of interested consumers. This in turn is not only beneficial for sales but also for boosting Osprey’s brand identity and consumer loyalty, as their customers know that they can get hold of their more obscure products.

osprey

Andrew Davies of Immediate Media spoke of the problems facing magazines with the advent of digital magazine content and it’s cost effectiveness, and explained the print option of Bookazines. These tend to be special-edition enhanced magazines that are on sale for up to 8 weeks and act as a brand extensions of other magazines such as Country Life. These products target existing consumers so are inexpensive to launch but enhance the brand with their collectable quality.

Laila Dickinson explained how different outlets like supermarkets, The Works and newsagents has meant that print can now target different audiences and so the print has to adapt to target those audiences. Products such as specialised boxsets or bookazine-type products mean that print options are still bringing in new consumers.

Collectively, the panel discussed and agreed that although the digital era and the digitalisation of print is beneficial for the industry, it is not ‘dinosaur’ to still champion print as print is still popular as a consumer product, especially niche high quality collectable products. Design and understanding your consumer is key, and that does not necessarily mean going entirely digital. Laila offered the example of children’s books which has had a huge growth in the last year, especially with authors such as Julia Donaldson who currently refuses to digitalise her products on principle and yet is still a highly successful author, showing how print is definitely not going anywhere.
ipad-ibooksIt was fascinating to listen to the debate and to find out about all the different avenues that print is going down whilst adapting to this digital era, which just shows how the publishing industry is growing and expanding into new and exciting ventures. I think perhaps most interesting was to learn how digital has actually opened up and enabled these different avenues for print – particularly in the example of POD thus showing that maybe, just maybe, the future is print and digital co-existing side by side.

ALPSP 2014 – An Inspired Summary

Last week, Inspired Selection attended the annual ALPSP conference at the Park Inn, Middlesex. The event is dedicated to exploring the latest trends in STM, Academic and professional society publishing and Esme Richardson and I wanted to find out as much as we could.

ALPSP

The conference provided the opportunity for an open and honest conversation about this area of publishing and it was oddly refreshing to hear several of the speakers ask the question – why is it so hard?

The Plenary on Cross Fertilisation, chaired by Toby Green of OECD, opened the can of Open Access worms, asking why it was taking so long to take on. The liberated worms wriggled in the direction of the reader. While we are a highly educated country, are there enough people wanting to read academic material? Does is actually increase reach and impact of the content as researchers can usually get to the article whether it’s open access or not?

In the session on Competing with the Corporates, David Maclean from Packt Publishing unashamedly acknowledged what hard work it was making a living out of the publishing business! Luckily he works very hard and is very good at it, reminding us, as the other speakers did, that size doesn’t matter in publishing. The internet is a real leveller in the publishing landscape; you are only as good as your discoverability and with the right metadata a small or medium sized publisher can be found just as well as the larger players giving us all the chance to be Kings of the Google Jungle. Of course, the content must be high quality and meeting the needs of the readers to keep business going. David talked about his alternative, data driven commissioning system which informed decisions on the type of content to be commissioned by monitoring what users are searching for online.

Google’s ears must have been burning hot red last week as the threats and opportunities that it poses publishers were mentioned several times. Martha Sedgwick from SAGE asked why it is that making academic content discoverable on library search tools is so hard when Google is so good! On one hand Google Scholar might take our researchers away from the library tools or even from the content as their attention is lost clicking around the various pages to land them in the right place. However on the other hand it can serve to bring researchers to the tools themselves, driving web traffic into our hands. Moreover, it drives us to improve our products which can only be a good thing.

What was evident throughout the conference was that despite this area of publishing actually being quite a tough gig, it is a fantastic and dynamic area to be in and it’s filled with people who are up for the challenge. This was particularly clear at the Awards Dinner sponsored by Semantico where the winners – Frontier – and runners up – IOP and JournalGuide – reminded us of the success that can come from innovation in this area. The speakers and panellists throughout the programme were inspiring as are the technology and business models that they are involved with. People often find things hard when they’re being stretched to do them really well and they care immensely about doing them well and we are very lucky to be surrounded by such people.

Improvement is Trending in Publishing

Coming out of the Book Industry Communications seminar on Monday, I felt even more excited about the future of publishing than before. After a few years of uncertainty about its direction and the big Digital Mystery was not yet solved. The seminar, held in the majestic RIBA offices, threw the spotlight on some of the fantastic clues that lead us to the conclusion that technology and innovative thinking really are enablers to our industry and not things to be frightened of.

The clues took the form of industry trends and first we must decipher what a trend actually is. Karina Luke from the BIC took us through the difference between a trend and a fad and what we are looking out for here are new developments with longevity. It can be hard in the early days to know if we are in a trend or a fad but we can make an educated guess: is it likely to catch on? Does it answer a business or consumer need? Is there a cost benefit?trnading

For example, Paul Porter from the RNIB demonstrated how Apple’s VoiceOver and Braille Display technology has enabled a huge number of visually impaired people to access books that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. Accessibility to books does not just mean reading them, it means being able to search for them, choose and buy them. For the 1 in 8 adults that have severe sight problems this technology has allowed them that choice as without it they have a very limited range of books in Braille. Technology has vastly improved the access that was already there, meeting a demand that wanted to read.

Similarly, a panel discussion told us about the efficiency gains made by Auto Stock Replenishment; cheaper than print on demand, this technology keeps stock up to date and ready to go. However, this does not negate the need for good people – Inventory and Stock Controllers – it is not replacing their cognisance. Rather, it allows them to spend their time on making more strategic decisions, interfering with the ASR if their knowledge supersedes the predicted sales figures when, for example, an author event happens that a machine wouldn’t know about. Again, technology is improving an existing system; the trend towards printing improvements is a lasting one meeting a need and allows people to do what people do best – make decisions about publishing.

People are at the core of this industry as it is driven by people’s passion for publishing great content and it’s important to remember that these new trends are not threatening that. Stuart Evers from the Bookseller Award Winning NetGalley explained how their platform improves the process of getting content to influencing readers: reviewers, librarians, booksellers etc. Inter-departmental liaison and postage delays are eliminated, giving people more time with the content. With this in mind, it’s important that we have the right people on board and a further panel discussion reminded us that with these new trends in our industry, new skills will be needed and we’ll need to market ourselves as an attractive industry to work in to people with the right technical skills.

Monday uncovered several new trends in our industry, many of which are emerging through new technologies and we do seem to be solving the Digital Mystery. However, listening to them all seemed to bring one overarching trend to light; as an industry we are looking for ways in which to improve. We are looking forward to the future and asking more of ourselves. Technology can be the answer to this but it can also give us to time to do this more. We’re on an upward trend!

Abigail Barclay  By Abigail Barclay, Managing Consultant