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.


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.


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.

Book Machine in Conversation with Sam Missingham – Sponsored by Inspired Selection

Tomorrow evening, July 22nd, we are making our way to Adam Street Private Members Club to hear Sam Missingham, Head of Events at HarperCollins, tell us all about the first ever virtual literary festival organised by a publisher. As sponsors of the event, Inspired Selection are very excited to attend and to be associated with such an interactive and innovative concept.


In June 2014, HarperCollins hosted the Romance Festival and it was a resounding success, allowing readers to follow and engage with world renowned authors through social media platforms.

Want to find out how they did it? Come and hear for yourselves! We will hear how authors were interviewed on Twitter, partook in Google Hangouts and had Facebook chats with fans. Social media engagement over the weekend reached impressive levels, including 4599 tweets using #Romance14 with a potential reach of 17.9 million users.

In a world where social media engagement is so important, this was a wonderful move by once known traditional book publishing to launch itself into the virtual realm. Instead of donning flower garlands and pitching a tent for the weekend, festival-goers could enjoy the event from the comfort of their own homes and take time to reflect on all that was going on and pick and choose what to “attend” without running through a muddy field!

We can’t wait to find out more and hope to see you there!

To book your ticket, follow this link:

There will be a competition on the night – be in with a chance of winning a Kindle by completing a short entry form on arrival!


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 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.

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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 2012 – Seminar 3: Interactive and Social Reading

Seminar 3: Interactive and Social Reading

Andrew Rhomberg – Founder & Managing Director of JellyBooks.

The interactivity gap between the author, publisher and reader is narrowing. The digital revolution has given readers the opportunity to decide how and when they wish to consume such content. JellyBooks & Inkle are two of many companies providing users with a vehicle for that consumption.

Andrew Rhomberg, founder and Managing Director of Jellybook opened the discussion by introducing his company JellyBooks. Andrew likes to think of his company like a sweet shop, a place where the consumer can sample 10% of a book for free and if they like them share their great finds with a wide audience.

 “JellyBooks encourages you to sample and not buy the book”

Andrew reminded me of a scientist, JellyBooks is very much a working project for him and he likes to think of each stage of development as a series of experiments to create a virtual bookshop experience where the consumer is in control.  The reader is free to browse and discover books, so much so that the more recommendations a title receives the bigger the discounts, something which is usually controlled by the retailer.

discounts for sharing books – get the reader to do the marketing”

Book Clubs and award ceremonies naturally play a part in bestseller lists but with added reviews and recommendations come the power for the consumer to play a part in a title becoming a big hitter which is something that everyone in the publishing process should consider.

Jon Ingold – Creative Director at Inkle

Jon joined the discussion by focusing on how we perceive ‘the book’ to be and then questioning that perception. Inkle’s latest project was the well reviewed and raved about the

Frankenstein App, in collaboration with Profile Books.

“In Frankenstein you take some of the author’s decisions

about language based on approach to a story”

Jon’s key point during the discussion was the need for innovation and how we should continue to ask ourselves – what comes next? We are taught to read a book from page 1 to the final page through to completion but is that really how best to enjoy content? He argued that this was a cultural approach to reading and what the app and other digital content did was to reinvent this.

“No moral concept when not listening to an album all the way through, #

why isn’t it the same with books?”

Text in Jon’s opinion is a boundary between the writer and reader. Jon declared ‘the book’ as we know it dead and that it was time to revive our reading experiences. If you didn’t enjoy a chapter in a book wouldn’t it be great to be able to tell the author and consumer an ‘abridged’ version of their work. Of course this sparked debate; one delegate argued that this would destroy structure, meaning and thus effect the way we interpreted books. Jon advised that this wouldn’t be destruction, merely an alternative and that user interface was important in how we digest content.

Both Jon & Andrew inspired the audience to question our reading experiences both currently and in the future, understanding our reading habits and how this can be enhances in the digital age.

SYP Conference 2012 – Seminar 2: Beyond the Textbook

Andrea Carr – Managing Director, Rising Stars

Andrea left university as a linguist, started off as a publishing assistant at Octopus and stayed there for 15 years working across editorial, sales, and rights and ended up in marketing. Ten years ago she took the opportunity to set up Rising Stars and moved from the *glamorous* trade publishing arena into the dynamic, challenging and creative area of educational publishing – she says she’s never looked back. Andrea’s sheer passion for educational publishing is infectious; she is involved in injecting technology into schools in the form of iPads, computers and Interactive Whiteboards and surrounds herself with forward thinking educators so she can market her products to deliver. Marketing to children is also a huge part of what Andrea does in order to achieve and be successful; she describes them as a demanding but hugely rewarding market.

By immersing herself in being at the forefront of educational publishing, Andrea has learnt how to create eBooks, interactive software and wider content; she has seen the textbook become increasingly irrelevant where digital content is the present. An inspiring talk showing us all how rewarding a role in educational publishing can be…

Pedro Moura, International Sales Manager for Macmillan

Next up was Pedro to give us an insight into the ELT publishing market, he explained the huge importance of the English Language for things like travel, study, jobs, business and international relations – in fact Pedro had to complete an IELTs qualification before coming to the UK.  He gave us some interesting stats on English speakers:

–          There are 1 billion people learning English worldwide

–          400 million people speak English as their first language

–          800 million people speak English as a foreign language

The ELT market is mainly dominated by CUP, OUP, Pearson and Macmillan and they are seeing a distinct shift into course books becoming much more interactive and they have to come up with unique ideas for marketing new online based platforms. Pedro’s approach to digital was positive; there is a great deal of investment in digital and it is a huge growing market:

–          By 2015 3 billion people will have internet access

–          Governments are encouraging digital – particularly with reforms for Italy and Spain

–          E-readers and tablets are becoming mainstream – and are being used increasingly for educational purposes

–          Distance learning is growing – using online resources

–          Teachers prefer interactive course books

Pedro is passionate about the ELT market and is already seeing a rise in print/digital sales – he thinks the textbook will continue to exist but it will take on a much more interactive and digital format.


SYP Conference 2012 – Beyond The Book, Opening Debate

Opening Debate: Game Changers

Julia Kingsford – Chief Executive, World Book Night

We kicked off the opening debate with a presentation from Julia Kingsford from World Book Night; they work to engage people who don’t regularly read in doing so and gave us some jaw dropping statistics on the literary state of the UK…

–          30-50% of people in the UK don’t read/are reluctant readers

–          16% of people in the UK are functionally illiterate

–          40% of the country are at level 1 in literacy (Grade D English GCSE or below)

–          This summer 43% of boys didn’t get a C or above in English GCSE

–          1 in 3 households in the UK don’t have a book in them

Julia is so passionate about getting paper books and stories into people’s lives, she has made it her mission to get people engaged with reading; she casually asked for feedback from this year’s WBN and got 75,000 words worth of replies – that’s enough to publish a book! She wanted to show how the print book has evolved as well as the digital advances in the industry.

Laura Austin – E-Book Manager, YUDU Media

Now we moved on to a presentation by Laura Austin at YUDU Media where she works with publishers to convert content onto digital platforms. She showed us iBooks Author, a fantastic app which allows anyone to create multi-touch, interactive books for the iPad. Laura explained that publishers have spent a lot of money trying to come up with something very interactive for iPad but iBooks Author is a cheaper and quicker way of developing apps which still allows interactivity. The great thing about iBooks is that it allows the Publisher to create their own digital content and make it tailor made to them so they can get the most out of the content. Laura mentioned she has been working with OUP on educational products and HarperCollins on the new Hobbit book – we can’t wait for that one! This really is an inspired idea for the future of books, inspiring a new generation with the iBook Author, thanks very much Laura for opening our eyes to this fantastic way of using content.

Sarah Taylor – Marketing Assistant, Matador

Sarah works for Matador, the UK’s leading self publishing imprint of Troubador Publishing and is particularly well placed to tell us about the growth of self-publishing (which is over 280% apparently). Due to this growth, self-publishing is becoming a saturated market where self-published authors are now attracting the attention of the traditional publishing industry. Matador focuses on high quality self publishing and works hard to create books that are indistinguishable from the rest – they also encourage authors to connect with their readers via the web and social media. Whilst Matador appreciate that technology helps what we do, eBooks are not free to produce and cheap options are usually badly edited and formatted; we don’t want to cut out print, it’s important to keep the market open so we’ll have books for years to come.

Trevor Klein – Head of Development, Somethin’ Else

Somethin’ Else is a content design/creation company; Trevor runs the digital development portfolio and works closely with record companies, games studios and publishers – including Faber, Transworld and Cannongate.  He explains and shows us examples of how publishing used to be single format – now we have new reading experiences on new hardware. Initially, new reading experiences were just translations of the old ones, now we have digital content to allow for a ‘hands on’ and interactive reading experience. The key point I think Trevor draws from his expert talk is that it is so important to understand your audience through data sourcing and learning how to compete for attention in the digital space.

SYP Conference 2012 – Seminar 1: Beautiful Books

In her seminar, ‘Beautiful Books’, Johanna Greary explored the discussion which underlined much of the SYP 2012 Conference : will ‘digital’ lead to the demise of the traditionally printed book? As Senior Editor of the Folio Society, publisher of fine, illustrated books, she is well placed to comment on the position of physical books in our modern lives.

Some of us are scared of it and some of us are excited by it, but it’s something that we’re all talking about and, working within the publishing industry, it’s something that’s got to be on our minds. As technology continues to develop, is there going to be a need, or demand, for the traditionally printed book going forwards? Johanna Greary argues, ‘yes, absolutely, more than ever’ and while that might seem nostalgic, optimistic or naive, she has an incredibly good point…. How many of you have been into a grocery store in the last month? A high street shop?  The bank? Listened to the radio? Posted some mail? Probably most of you. But if you think about it, you might have done these things for a slightly different purpose than you would have done five, ten or fifteen years ago. You might do most of your grocery shopping online, but pop into Waitrose for that beautiful bottle of bubbly. You might order the outfit online but go into the store to try on beautiful clothes , for the beautiful experience of the shop. And while you might download a new bestseller onto your Kindle, you’d buy a beautiful coffee table hardback , you would spend money on beautiful books. The shift towards digital has created an opportunity for fine, beautiful books to come into their own – books as gifts, as art and as items of luxury.

But what makes a book beautiful? In the seminar, Greary took us through the factors which contribute to the book’s aesthetics and how the factors must work in conjunction with each other. She started, and finished, with the text. The text must be close to the author’s intentions, pure to the original story. The text will then dictate how the other factors are addressed. The typography must be clear and easy to read, with the font being in line with the content. You wouldn’t want to read The Handmaid’s Tale in Comic Sans! The illustrations must reflect and enhance the style and the tone of the text. She explained how a fictitious book which was based on a true story benefited from photographic illustrations as the photo form adds an element of reality to the content. The binding design must then be consistent with these illustrations, giving the reader a good first impression of the beautiful experience inside. Finally, the printing and binding must allow the content stay true to its form. She gave the example of the long-lined poetry of Gerard Manley-Hopkins which the Folio Society chose to print in a square shaped book so that the lines were printed unbroken. And here we end back at the text, were we started.

So there seem to be two ways of defining Beautiful Books. First, and most obviously, a finely, illustrated book that would sit well on display in our homes.  And secondly, a book which is pure and true to its text in every aspect of its production. Having heard speakers in the opening and closing debates, I don’t see any reason why that can’t be a digital book. Digital content can surely capture the sentiment of the words, giving authors the options of music and interaction? This, however, will not lead to the demise of the printed book. It will just increase the pressure on the printing industry to produce beautiful items that motivate us to purchase. By judging the products I saw from the Folio Society, bound in silk and glitter and containing stunning images reflecting the content of the text, I am confident that there are publishers out there who will excel under this pressure, continuing to provide truly beautiful books to the public.