#Futurepub – New Developments in Scientific Publishing

On Tuesday evening, we made our way to the NESTA offices in Chancery Lane for a discussion on the new developments in scientific publishing, organised by John Hammersley (WriteLaTeX) . The event consisted of six “microslot talks” of five minutes each from a great panel, with time for a few questions for each speaker.


First up was Cheyne Tan from Blikbook who explained how his platform allows students who have questions and problems with research to ask each other and help each other out through an interactive platform. It started out in LBS and UCL and aims to improve content discovery and aids the universities in gleaning data from monitoring behaviour; how the data is shared between students and disseminated. The key point from Cheyne’s talk was the issue of “I don’t know what I don’t know” – this echoed through all five minute speaker slots and brought to the fore the issue of the lack of discovery avenues for those seeking information – how can they be led to unearth information that they never knew existed? In a society hungry for data, this is something that innovative science publishers are looking to address.

Joseph McArthur from Open Access Button took it from here and as well as filling us in on how Open Access Button works, he explained the importance they place on the stories that their users tell them of experiences, challenges and successes with their academic research. Everyone, from patients looking for information on their illnesses to academics probing for details and explanations, can use this platform and it is looking to grow and evolve even more.

Lou Woodley, Co-founder of MySciCareer, filled us in on what has been occupying her time during her current sabbatical – she is focussed on what preoccupies scientists; how can they keep up with all their papers and how can they secure grants? There is more of an interest now in talking about data. Career decisions is another big issue and MySciCareer records the personal narratives of what people have been through and the paths they have taken.

Richard Smith, Founder of Nowomics, stepped up to discuss how his platform helps life scientists to source research (a “twitter for genes”) and collates the information needed in one place through a twitter style feed. It searches for updates and publishes them and setting up an account is free. You can search by popularity and see what people are talking about and email alerts are also set up to further aid the discovery of more information.

Greg Tebbutt of Sparrho delivered an engaging microslot where he explained the purpose and work of Sparrho and how it came about for the same reasons mentioned above – you can search journals but this doesn’t help you find what you don’t know is out there! Again – the issue of “I don’t know what I don’t know”. On Sparrho, you can “love” posts that you like and get rid of what you don’t – Sparrho understands more about you by your activity and can consequently recommend better information and sources.

Cat Chimes, Head of Marketing for Altmetric, closed the evening’s event with an interesting overview of how they work. She opened with the line “Every researcher is a communicator” and went on to discuss the academic and societal impacts of research and how they are alternatives to metrics and do not replace the impact factor, they complement it. This is an article-centric approach, it searches blogs and articles to collate and deliver article-level metrics to journal publishers.

All six speakers gave excellent, informative and engaging accounts of their respective business models and it was refreshing to see how they are developing and improving user access to information in the scientific publishing arena. Even better was how they are keeping the stories and needs of the readers/researchers at the heart of it all – communication and interaction is key and with this in mind, there are so many more exciting developments and ideas to come! This linking of people’s stories to information is a nice way of connecting back to the roots of publishing; it is, after all, about story-telling.


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


EPC Conference – New Curriculum, New Challenges: How to deliver quality and innovation from 2014

On Monday 2nd December we attended the EPC Conference at the Institute of Physics focussed around the topic of: ‘New Curriculum, New Challenges: How to deliver quality and innovation from 2014.’ The conference was a fantastic opportunity to bring together publishers, policy makers, educators and interested parties to discuss how and why we will ensure that the new curriculum changes are successful and work in conjunction with all parties.

The day started with a keynote speech from Elizabeth Truss, MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education & Childcare where she highlighted some insightful statistics around the use of textbooks in UK schools – these show that textbooks are only used for teaching 10% of the time in UK schools compared to statistics in the high 80’s and 90’s for other high performing countries such as Singapore and Korea. For Liz, this is something we need to bring back in order to build and develop our ‘core knowledge’ across Maths, Science, English and Language teaching – an area where the new curriculum will aim to target. A key factor of changes in the UK curriculum is focussed around our international neighbours; what can we learn from them by broadening our horizons and embracing some of their cultures and ideas? As our core knowledge becomes more important, this will in turn grow the economy – if textbooks are a way of inspiring growth then we must do what we can to make these as inspiring as possible for children and learners.

The rest of the day covered innovation in the classroom, teacher communities, and subject expert opinions on resources, sharing of resources, a case study on a computing MOOC and how we ensure and show pupil progress. William Edwards School was part of a demonstration that showed us how they have implemented ‘innovation’ into their school with writeable walls, double projectors and an app developed by teachers for teachers; the project was hugely successful in engaging students, getting teachers excited about pedagogy and ultimately giving the students the best possible environment and platform in which to thrive in.

Seeing the demonstration of the Computing MOOC by OCR and Cambridge University Press was also highly innovative; with an international shortage of computing specialist teachers the development of a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) was a fantastic way to build a peer-to-peer learning experience focussed around the teacher and the learner which allows a form of assessment and self certification.


What makes a KS4 MOOC? Thanks to @HodderHistory

Towards the end of the day there was more of a focus on assessment and looking at ways to ensure and show students progress with teaching. There were some excellent examples of ways  in which we can assess and lots of different methods relating back to assessment data, having ‘proper’ textbooks and excellent teachers but the heart of the debate remained around the child – where they are able to go and what is the best way to get them there.

The conference itself gave an excellent insight into how the new curriculum is going to change a number of areas within the Education sector; teachers, schools, policy makers and publishers are going to need to adapt and come together to champion innovation, broaden the horizons of learning and how we do that and ultimately to have a great curriculum, great teachers and great resources to give the learner the best possible experience.


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”.

author pic

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

What’s the future of poetry publishing? #BytetheBook

We spent Monday evening at The Ivy, attending the much anticipated Byte the Book event, “What’s the future of poetry publishing?” Chaired by former Poet Laureate, Sir Andrew Motion, the panel included poets Helen Ivory, Paul Lyalls and Claire Trevien, along with Faber and Faber’s Head of Digital Publishing, Henry Volans. What ensued was an engaging and enlightening insight into the changes created in the world of poetry by the digital revolution and the ways in which this has both aided and abetted this industry so seeped, as it is, in tradition.


There was a structured framework for the panel’s input, with each guest speaker answering a specific and pre-subscribed question. Sir Andrew Motion opened proceedings by giving his own opinion on the integration of the internet into his profession; “internet is a good friend to poetry”, he stated at the onset, though he does feel frustrated by the current situation as he believes that digital poetry publishing is just on the cusp of the next big thing, “it is stuck and waiting for someone to ‘unstick’ it”.

Henry Volans spoke next, answering back to the posed question, “Can digital formats add to publishing or make it worse?” He believes that it can do both and went on to agree with Sir Andrew Motion’s points and expand by discussing how it is strange that poets still have to wait until they have a complete collection before they can publish their work. Digital publishing is working toward making, and in some case has already made, it possible to publish a single poem. He equated the process to that of the short story.

While digital platforms such as T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland and Shakespeare’s Sonnets have led the way for creative publishing solutions using new technologies, so far these only work  for existent publications and there is still no set option for new work – how can we create new product or market types? On the other hand, is poetry better as a fixed style? The panel continued to explore this with Claire Trevien addressing the importance of the visual in poetry and how this can be digitised. Her issue with Kindles is that one can never see the full poem on the page and in this way, digital is not kind to poetry collections and can take from them visually.

Poetry Byte the Book

However, one interesting idea that was put forward was to consider that instead of focussing on how it might be possible to transfer work from beautiful book format to digital platforms without losing the integrity of the content, instead, perhaps now it is time to start writing specifically with a digital medium in mind.

Helen Ivory gave her thoughts on the importance of format, making the point, which the majority of nodding heads in the audience seemed to confirm, that books are beautiful as objects and that digital creations, like Kindles, are just a means of transferring information and won’t leave you with that same joy of leafing through a book, examining the cover and admiring the illustrations. But at the same time, how has technology and social media helped Helen as a poet, when editing? It allows her to work quickly and in a more cost efficient way, with access to lots of images.

Paul Lyalls spoke about the importance of performance in poetry and how it is a huge part of a poet’s success allowing them access to their audience directly and a chance to create an identity and reputation as an artist. One never knows who is in the audience they read to and in the same way social media now helps writers to be published, the more traditional art of live poetry still does the same thing.

The landscape for poets is indeed changing and Sir Andrew Motion feels that he is on the verge of that revolution and he cannot wait for it to come in his lifetime. However, a premature nostalgia for the stifling of traditional platforms by digital was evident throughout the discussion as a whole, from Claire Trevien lamenting the potential loss of those arguments with her editor over a comma, to Henry Volans’ clever analogy at the end about a Google figurehead’s explanation for publishing his autobiography in paperback; “I wanted to be taken seriously.”

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

BookMachine Oxford – “Running a Digital Department”


We gathered last night, together with a large contingent of Oxford publishers, at the House Bar in central Oxford to network over a few drinks and to hear from Tim Oliver, Head of Macmillan Education’s Digital Publishing Unit.

Tim spoke enthusiastically about his interest in technology and his career in digital publishing over the last decade, and provided some interesting insights into changes in structuring digital departments during his time in the industry.

Tim runs a specialist digital publishing unit within Macmillan’s ELT business, which was set up to maximise efficiencies and cost saving with regard to producing digital products. The team started out with a similar structure to a print department, but has since evolved to focus heavily on project management, and the unit has developed set procedures which inform their everyday working practise. This is constantly updated as technology changes, and to accommodate new product formats, new workflows etc.

As with many other publishing companies, he has seen ‘digital’ initially separated from the rest of the company’s print publishing operation, but it is now clear that all departments must embrace the changes sweeping the industry. In effect, all departments must become digital departments. In the past, many skills were outsourced to specialist suppliers, but Tim highlighted a more recent trend towards ‘backsourcing’ – bringing certain job functions and skills back in-house – e.g. software development and website production.

Bringing skills in house may then lead on to additional training needs and anyone managing a digital department will need to bear these in mind. Fortunately there are many training opportunities online now, and staff can develop skills without time out of the office. Mentoring also plays a key role, especially in developing strong project management and Agile methodology understanding in digital teams.

One thing is clear – running a digital department is a challenging, busy and creative role. Tim described a typical day which could include anything from signing off new digital platform development, interviewing staff, discussing new product developments with senior management, reviewing project management procedure with the team, catching up with developers, problem solving technical glitches, etc!

Tim concluded with a reminder that we need to balance ‘evolution with revolution’. We need to be exploring new channels and business models, but need to balance this with revenue generation. While technological advancement offers huge potential for product development, most profit is still generated from print products.

Thanks to Book Machine for another great event!Logo_(cmyk)

New Business Models in a Digital World – Byte the Book

Last night we gathered once again at the gorgeous Ivy Club to hear from Rebecca Smart (Osprey Books), Richard Kilgarriff (Bookomi), John Bond (White Fox) and Michael Bhaskar (Profile Books) to hear their take on how Business Models have adapted with the onset of digital.


e-Publishing has changed everything; we have found that publishers can produce things quicker, cheaper and are made more widely available to larger markets. However, publishing at its core remains the same and solves the problem of getting content to readers. Throughout history the way this has been achieved has evolved; obstacles such as the price of paper, making and distributing books has disappeared in the wake of new obstacles such as free content online and consumers favouring digital technology to access content.

With this in mind, publishing is adapting to a consumer orientated world with publishers focussing on how the content is being read and by whom rather than how it’s being written and by whom. A fantastic example of this is at Osprey where everything they do is centred on the reader; even before the internet they were engaging with their readership in order to understand what content they want. This is being made easier by the amount of data that is readily available and accessible; we can see who is buying what and when and how they’re engaging with the content. Companies like Amazon champion this model; they are immersed in making money and using data to link readers with content. Behind every success story there will always be those who suffer and in this case it is the high street and independent book shops as they’re forced to lower their prices in competition with online sales.

Having established that publishing is now driven by the reader; the panel took this a step further and explained how content could become a reader experience and a service. For example, airlines could offer books on flights to substitute the complimentary film facility; in this case the literature is more than just a story – it is offering a service to the consumer. This is the model that the Professional and STM industry have been using for several years, pushing out content to people in order to offer a tailored service. Whilst this isn’t a new business model altogether we are now seeing how the impact of digital is making the trade sector operate in this way.

With this in mind, what is the new business model for publishing? There is no one right answer as it is a constantly evolving machine; the business model will always be about getting content from authors to readers but the way this content is delivered will always be evolving. The model will always be a beautiful streamlined process from the outside, but the inside might take some renovation. Alistair Horne summed it perfectly; The business model is not broken, just fragmented and will take time and innovation to adapt to the new technologies and new consumer demands of our age.

How is technology influencing the size and shape of what we read?


Last night we attended Byte the Book at the gorgeous Club at the Ivy where a superb panel of experts were there to discuss: ‘How is technology influencing the size and shape of what we read?’ We heard from Ravina Bajwa, Managing Editor of Penguin Audiobooks, Benedict Evans, Analyst at Enders Analysis, Richard Loncraine, Director at Heuristic Media and Maureen Evans, Director at Ether Books.

Benedict Evans was quick to point out that there are three key issues in technology influencing what and how we read:

1.)    Distribution of content – digital changes the cost structure, hence it is more economical to be interactive with content

2.)    Ubiquity – pop culture is more accessible

3.)    The changing role of intermediaries – the market is no longer driven by logistics and you don’t need to go through the typical agent-publisher-wholesaler-bookshop supply chain.

Publishers and App Developers are now having to think of more innovative ways to overcome digital challenges; Ether Books have been successful in producing short ‘snacking’ digital content under 6000 words. They are proving that with mobile devices, it is important to also have ‘mobile’ content – short form is much more accessible on people’s devices, however previously there has been a gap in the market for books produced solely for digital. Ravina at Penguin has found the opposite where consumers want longer, unabridged content when it comes to listening to audio books. This has proven to be a huge advantage of digital; they have found new distribution opportunities to get the content to consumers as well as innovative ideas in order to mix sound effects and narrative elements together.

Technology is becoming a huge influence on how and what we read, but how is this going to change in the future and what are Publishers and App Developers doing to drive this forwards?

Ravina from Penguin discussed the launch of the entire Roald Dhal backlist in new Audio Book format. This will feature an exciting cast of high profile celebrities and brand new compositions to highlight his work and really create a picture in listener’s imaginations through the many dimensions of sound. Loncraine touched upon the launch of haptic touchscreens; however, it seems these are still at least a decade away in innovation. Benedict Evans talked about the innovation within App Development but shared interesting facts about the obstacles that still exist to getting your app noticed. For example, across iOS there are about 4 apps downloaded per month per device and only a dollar spent; the real problem is discoverability.

In summary, the future of what we read and how we read is still up for grabs, there is so much innovation out there in terms of devices, apps, as well as inventive ways of using and delivering content. However, it would be wrong to assume that everything will be sucked up into the digital mass, in the same way that when colour printing came out not everything became colour. It was pointed out that the way we feel about our childhood computer is the way today’s children will feel about the iPad; there is a huge generation of developers and technological genius out there that we have no real idea what is going to be around in 20 years time and it’s going to be an exciting journey to find out…

Byte the Book, How can we use technology to understand readers?

On Tuesday evening  we attended our first ‘Byte the Book’ event, held at the beautiful Ivy Club. On the panel were Dan Franklin (Digital Publisher, Random House), Lindsey Mooney (Vendor Manager, Kobo), Andrew Rhomberg (Founder, Jellybooks) and Rufus Weston (Customer Insight Director, HarperCollins); all were there to give us an insight into how these publishers and organisations use technology to better understand their readers. Rufus at HC began by describing the two key methods to understand your readers; you can use conventional market research such as surveys, or you can use consumer data. Rhomberg pointed out how the use of social media technologies has made it easier for people to locate books they want to read. Mooney from Kobo talked about their extensive use of web marketing and web analytics; they can see exactly where a reader has bookmarked a page and this function works across multiple devices. Finally, Dan Franklin reports that Random House, as a large publishing house, has observed the biggest change in how they can monitor people and their experience using their products through data, analytics and apps.

New digital technologies are teaching us many things that we didn’t know before, we are seeing specific behaviours concerning how and when people read books and even at what time of day people buy books. We are also able to see books’ completion rates. An interesting fact from Kobo is that 100% of certain types of erotica are being completed 100% of the time whereas there is certain non-fiction or academic books that may only be finished 50-60% of the time. With this knowledge, retailers and publishers alike are able to recommend books to their users in different ways.

Franklin also spoke about how everyone walking around with devices connected to the Internet has changed things enormously; Twitter is one good example to analyze how people are feeling about the books that are being published. People are becoming more and more vocal online with their consumer opinions, particularly on forums and blogs.

The panel agreed that it is important to note in all of this that possessing data that tells us so much about reader behaviour should begin affecting creative and editorial decisions; it is quite important that decisions reflect consumer preferences.

Romberg discussed that we can now watch what readers are doing rather than what they are saying. This means that it is now possible to disregard how users rate a book, for example on a scale, and rather observe whether they are recommending or sharing their books. Important questions to answer are if people recommend a book, who listens to them? Are they influential?

Mooney from Kobo talks about how experimentation is good for publishers, for example, book covers are hugely important for Kobo in selling books, yet some eBooks still don’t have them.

The final topic was a discussion about how private reading is for the customer and to find out how sensitive publishers are with the use of personal data. Generally the responses from the panel were that of course, the use of personal data is restricted to whether that person has said that they allow the use of data. If people post things publicly then people should be allowed to use this data, and vice versa with personal data. Privacy is important but there is a value exchange that consumers are aware of, for example in return for retweeting a post on Twitter you may get entered into a competition or likewise for Facebook. Reading is very much still private, and possibly even more private now given the masses of e readers which hides any detail to the rest of the public of what you’re reading, but the data that publishers and companies like Kobo get from you reading on an electronic device allows them to enhance your overall reading experience and recommend other things that you may not have considered before.

The key thing to come from this event is that publishers need to use data in the right way in order to get the best result. At the moment, a huge amount of money is being spent to get data that doesn’t necessarily work. It is so important to keep thinking back to the reader and the customer, what does the customer want? Look at the stats, see what works and change what doesn’t.

Overall, technology is enhancing both the publishers knowledge of their readers but also the service that the reader is getting; the ability to hone in and deliver specialised content to millions of e reader users is amazing and will certainly improve our overall experience as customers and readers.

Bett 2013

It is an exciting time to be a student or someone otherwise involved with education right now. During our time at Bett 2013 we saw many new exciting innovations being developed for educational purposes. The main theme of the event and amongst the Educational Publishers present was how to best adapt current technology to the best benefit of students and teachers alike.

Walking around the different areas of the show we saw everything from traditional learning materials to the latest digital apps being displayed on both iPad and PC. Perhaps one of the most interesting product demonstrations we sat in on was for a supplemental program for students to complete work online – the achievement here being that this specific program now allowed for tailored and detailed feedback on each student’s assignment as well as giving them the opportunity to directly correspond with their teacher about particular assignments, even when not in the classroom. Teachers were also given the ability to specifically adapt assignments individually to each of their students, ensuring that each is given the personal help they need.

Many products, especially for younger children, were centred on creating a highly interactive learning environment. This was especially apparent with the way touch screen interfaces were utilised in order to capture and hold their attention. Everything from SMART boards to tablets was being employed in new capacities, to help students with everything from learning to read or practicing maths.

It is clear that the main aim of these products, and in fact of the publishers, is to use new technologies to make content as engaging as well as constructive as possible in order to enhance their education. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the different technologies on display was their ability not to overtake traditional learning methods, but to supplement current curriculum and texts as well as offer customized support in order to fit the individual student and teacher needs.

It is a very exciting time to be involved with Educational Publishing. Let Inspired Selection help you begin your career with the leading publishers of the 21st century.

Future Book Conference, 3rd December 2012

FB conf imageNigel Roby, Managing Director of the Bookseller started the conference by announcing this to be the biggest Futurebook conference to date. There were 38 speakers at the event and they honed in on the all important factor – ‘integration with digital’. With only 5% of print-only publishers in existence it’s all about how publishers can bring entertainment and content to their audience.

Kobo’s Mike Serbinis kick started the discussion with an introduction to Kobo, a company which has only been delivering reading resources for the last 3 years yet has managed to secure a 20% global market share. Their vision is to ensure that there is an e-reader for everyone and they firmly believe that within the next 25 years we will have made the print to digital transformation.

Dominic Rowell, MD of Lonely Planet, demonstrated how to stay on top in a dwindling travel guide market as they continue to maintain their place as No. 1 guide book publisher. Focusing their business across digital platforms and providing the consumer with travel solutions.

Charlie Redmayne, CEO of Pottermore, explained how they have built successful platforms for JK Rowling fans to explore content. Charlie described how publishers need to build brands and harness a fan base to ensure success in the digital age.

A highlight of the morning was an announcement from Foyles, they plan to open a new flagship store adopting a collaborative approach; opening up to the audience and the consumer to help plan and contribute ideas to how they can make the best bookshop.  Interesting themes and ideas arose from the days discussions which ranged from pricing structure and how to create an effective strategy for digital products, to how best to reach your digital consumer and understand them as well as sparking debate on the role of the literary agent and where this exists in the digital age.

The Future Publisher session presented some interesting viewpoints with Stephen Page CEO of Faber & Faber emphasising ‘writing for readers’, their search for ‘future book formats’ and the growth of Faber Social. Rebecca Smart, CEO of Osprey Group discussed partnering with other companies to add value for consumers and asked that key question: “are we meeting the needs of our consumers?”  Dominique Raccah, CEO of Sourcebooks focussed on the need to make books more personal and how they have developed this in their children’s books.

Anna Rafferty, Nick Sidwell and Michael Tamblyn chaired the panel: Harnessing data to shape your products, marketing and strategy. In using their brand, whether it’s Penguin, Guardian Books or Kobo, they are able to adopt different methods: a focussed email marketing strategy, data mining for specific information and also through blogging and asking their consumers what they want. The ability to harness data for any brand is a unique way of making your content and your product specialised to your specific market and we saw several fantastic examples of this.

In Transformation of the Academic market we heard about the Open Access model from Ziyad Marar, Global Publishing Director at Sage and the disruption in the market as well as the changes within Higher Education. He described 2012 as the “rise of the institutions”.  Neil Broomfield, Business Development Director, HE at Wiley talked about the year on year decline in print sales, and the strong need to address the fact that the majority of students have a preference for using mobile devices to study. Ruth Jones, Business Development Director for Ingram gave an excellent talk on Ingram’s e-text book platform, Vital Source and informed us of their delivery of 5 million eBooks during 2011.

We were certainly given food for thought when considering The Future of the Editorial Product; Katharine Reeve, head of MA Publishing at Bath Spa University advised publishers not just to think about the product but also about the role of the commissioning editors,” we need to re-think their traditional roles and start to think of how they can bring value to the changing industry as product developers. The speed in which digital is influencing the industry has tended to put publishers constantly on the back foot, the reality is that digital is giving us some amazing new opportunities to do things that are difficult to do with a book – we must utilise this opportunity”, she said.

A talk on the International Perspective saw Barnes and Noble, Txtr and RCS Libri talking about expansion into markets outside of the UK and the US, key areas being South Africa, Portugal, Brazil and the Netherlands. The Nook defined its unique selling point as providing entertainment for the whole family, on shared devices. Txtr talked about developing into the Malaysian market where the primary device is the smartphone; they have created the innovative Txtr Beagle where content is downloaded via the phone and then Bluetooth to the device. Marcello Vena talked about unlimited book browsing on high speed trains in Europe, highlighting that digital is not just about the product it is also about the service.

The conference ended with a final panel of experts to talk about the future of publishing, they discussed whether other publishers can follow the Pottermore example, but Redmayne agreed that this probably was an exception. This sparked a debate on whether making content available reduces piracy, in the case of Pottermore and Pan Macmillan there has been no increase in piracy and the value of the author has been maintained. They concluded by saying how if publishers can drive consumers to a liberating retail experience with innovation and creativity then they can be successful in the digital age. It appears that the biggest lesson publishers have learned is that of the value of understanding the consumer and what they want.