SYP AGM 2014

The Society of Young Publishers’, or SYP, AGM took place this week at the beautiful Stationer’s Hall in the heart of the city. This venue is especially fitting for the SYP as the historical Stationer’s Company can be considered the ancestors to the modern publishing business. This beautiful building dates back to 1673, when after the site burned during the Great Fire of London, the company had the opportunity to build a new and grander Hall. Throughout the centuries, new generations of Stationer’s Company have adorned the building and we felt most fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to meet in such an impressive and historically rich setting.

The Hall

The evening kicked off with our 2013 SYP Chair, Lottie Chase, giving her farewell speech rounding up what a fantastic 2013 the SYP had with a successful series of events including career speed dating, a sell out of London Book Fair seminars, the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize and the launch of the Gilbert Collection honouring Matthew Gilbert who had on his bucket list to get published before he died. Lottie gave an emotional speech about her time as chair for 2013 along with vice-chair Andrew Turner and ended with her publishing take on the poem ‘if’ by Rudyard Kipling. Lottie also said farewell to the 2013 committee and welcomed in the 2014 team including our very own Esme Richardson and Chelsea Vernon!

SYP Networking

After a quick networking break we were back to the hall for the big debate on ‘Why do people buy books?’, on the panel were Annie Eaton – Publisher at Random House Children’s Publishers, Nicolette Jones – Children’s Book Editor at The Sunday Times, Anna James – Librarian and also book blogger at Go Book Yourself, Louise Corcoran – Supervisor at Foyles, Stratford & Gareth Howard – CEO at Authoright and chaired by our 2014 Chair, Helen Youngs. The panel started off by discussing blurbs and reviews, does this affect whether someone will buy a book or not? The panel were in agreement, people generally buy books because what they’re told; for example, it’s usually if something has been recommended to them by a friend or someone they trust. Onto the subject of book blurbs, this has to be quite a considered approach for publishers as they need to be able to sell the contents of the book but not give too much away as this can put people off. For the young adult market @caseforbooks says that it is important for teenagers to have confidence that they will enjoy the book which is why that blurb is so important.

Panel Pic

One of the most interesting questions of the evening was – ‘Can you manufacture a best seller?’ Gareth Howard pointed out that this is the role of a publisher; but as Nicolette Jones highlights, it used to be enough for a publisher to run a slick marketing campaign with guaranteed results but now publishers have to come up with more creative ways of doing this. To finish off, the panel discussed Amazon – why should people pay RRP for books? Anna pays RRP for books because in all the years she has been reading, she wants good books, rather than cheap, bad books; Nicolette Howard receives a lot of free books but will still buy a lot of books from book jobs as they add value to her experience with knowledge and events. Gareth Howard disagrees, Amazon is publishers’ biggest customer, yet they criticise. Perhaps the best point of the evening in defence of RRP, is that publishers need to be trying to portray that books have an intrinsic value and worth – by selling books at huge discounts, the public begins to no longer believe they have much value.

In summary, it was a fantastic evening of thinking about yet another facet of the publishing industry, consumer behaviour. This seems to be something that is becoming more and more prevalent with each event we attend and was a noticeable theme at FutureBook this year. With all the advancements in technology, consumer data is becoming more and more accessible which will allow publishers to tailor their business to the public’s tastes.

A huge farewell to the 2013 SYP committee and welcome 2014, we’re so excited for the year ahead!

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


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

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