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.

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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.

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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

Did You Bag a Book for the Bank Holiday?

What better way to spend the long weekend than to settle down with a bestseller? Here at Inspired we spent some time leafing through the Bookseller Bestseller List on Friday to find our perfect Bank Holiday read. We then took ourselves down to our local bookshop to browse the shelves and found ourselves a few treats!

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Here are our top four weekend reads:

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt                     

A story of loss, obsession, survival and self-invention, the Goldfinch combines thrilling suspense with a beautiful addictive story.

The perfect read for the night-owl.

Mad About the Boy – Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones is back and how we have missed her! Mad About the Boy is timely, touching and very witty.

The perfect book to curl up under a blanket and escape the rain with.

The Song for the Dying – Stuart MacBride

MacBride’s new novel is a heart-stopping crime thriller following a detective with one shot at redemption, at earning his freedom, at revenge.

A gripping thriller that leaves you hanging until the last page.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler

An exploration of sibling love and conflict with an underlying mystery plot full of surprises from the very start. Long-listed for the Man Booker Prize this year.

A funny, clever and honest tale filled with ideas that will leave you thinking long after you’ve finished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Library at London Bridge

After work last Thursday, we made our way to Gibbon’s Rent, a “transformed, long forgotten cut through from Magdalen Street to Bermondsey Street” in our SE1 neighbourhood. This urban jungle was created collaboratively by Team London Bridge and Southwark Council with the purpose of providing a leafy escape from the surrounding cityscape. We have attended events there before, most notably our successful wreath-making class last December, and yesterday was the launch of Little Library, an incentive to encourage reading and socialising in the garden.

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As the below photos suggest, the library is a portable architectural creation which can be wheeled inside if needed, though the idea is for it to stay put all year around, open during the day and closed up at night but with a cubby hole through which night-time passers-by can drop off their literary offerings. It is an opportunity for those living and working in the area to donate books, swap one book for another or simply replace a book after reading. We think it will be particularly useful for sunny lunch breaks or after work on a winter’s eve when you fancy taking home a new book.

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Luke Jones of Mill and Jones won a tough competition to design the library and with the help of his partner and a blacksmith, he created this fantastic capsule of books with pull out shelves and blackboard noticeboards for notes and messages. When you drop off a book you could write a brief recommendation or leave a request for a particular title.

This is a great addition to our neighbourhood; tucked between The Shard and Borough Market, we are in the midst of a growing and exciting space, fast becoming the publishing hub of London! Next time you drop by the Inspired offices, make sure to check out the Little Library too.

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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

The SYP Annual Pub Quiz

Last night Inspired donned our thinking caps once again to attend the SYP Annual Pub Quiz held at Shillibeer’s Bar and Grill near the Caledonian Road. Our consultants arrived ready and raring for a fantastic evening of quizzing with rounds covering Literature, Film & TV and Geography to a Guess the Link and Pot Luck, all literary themed of course! Our personal highlight was the Dingbat picture round in which we scored a rather respectable 16/18 – a favourite pastime of Inspired and so we had had a lot of practice!

At the half way point, The Inspired Quizmeisters were going strong with a solid score of 36/50. We had the prize in our sights, a rather large pile of books, what more could a young budding publisher want?

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In the second half the competition really got underway and it was a close fight to the end with the top three teams scoring within one point of each other. The Inspired Quizmeisters came a not too shabby 8th, beating our previous best. We may have some ground to cover in preparation for next year and perhaps a couple of trips to our local to practice…but watch this space!

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and wish to thank the SYP for putting on a great evening, see you next year!

 

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

 

Romance isn’t Dead, it’s Digital!

At Inspired Selection, we were delighted to sponsor this week’s BookMachine Event where guest speaker Sam Missingham – Head of Events at HarperCollins – told us about the virtual romance festival which she created.

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For those of you who couldn’t make it, you may be asking yourself what a virtual romance festival is…. Should you be hiding your screen if you’re reading this at work?! Do you need to delete your browsing history after this?! The answer to both is absolutely not. Although don’t feel alone in asking, from welcoming people as they entered, we think that perhaps some of the attendees had similar questions before the talk began as well!

Let us explain. Sam Missingham’s innovation is an opportunity for fans and authors (both established and aspiring) of romantic books to engage with each other, brought together by their passion for passion which is the sole agenda. Over the course of two days, people with similar interests form a community and share thoughts, knowledge and experiences. Just like any other festival. That is of course, aside from the fairly crucial distinction that all parking, tents, yurts and glamping facilities are entirely cast aside and replaced by Google Hangouts and online forums.

This festival is much more about creating a strong ‘glampaign’ (if I may coin that term) than glamping. Sam had to attract the audience in order to create the community and in the essence of the event itself, this was done digitally. In keeping with festival season, the marketing had the look and feel of festival promotion and on first glance could be Glastonbury’s or Wilderness’ artwork but the way it reached the eager romance readers was all done online. To attend the festival was entirely free; you just had to register online. For Sam, the email addresses of delegates is priceless as this allows you to keep in touch and keep building and strengthening the virtual pillars of your new community.

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Blogs, tweets and likes were all crucial in generating interest for this event before, during and after it but the real winner that Sam keeps coming back to is the power of email. People read emails, they open and click through to links and above all with the right information you can target specific groups of people with specific content in them. Email addresses are the data that can truly develop business and a community that will become loyal to that business.

We jumped on board with the digital theme of the evening with no hesitation, offering a Kindle to the lucky winner of a Prize Draw which we ran as part of our involvement with the event. This seemed particularly fitting as there is a higher proportion of romance fiction read on e-readers than other genres as we sneak in a good love story on the train allowing fellow passengers to believe we’re deep in the tomes of War & Peace or similar.

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This talk came as refreshing respite in the current heatwave, hearing about such a highly successful business innovation that is purely built on the foundation of adding value to authors and readers. Beneath the digital and technical walls that surround this project, Sam has managed to take us back to what publishing is really all about and that is the love of books. How romantic!

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.