Summer Reading #1

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So this is a very short Q&A I did for our Wednesday Reads blog post series at work. Bonjour Tristesse is a short read, perfect for summer.

What is your job?

Marketing Executive

What do you do day to day?

My main responsibility (or at least one which takes up the most time) is putting together design briefs for a wide variety of promotional material from seasonal catalogues to flyers for book launches to goody bag contents. I oversee print advertising so this involves submitting titles to The Bookseller category spotlights, liaison with academic conference organisers to insert adverts in the programmes and working with a range of publications for advert space. One of the great things about working in a small publishers is you are able to shape your role to a certain extent. Aside from these fixed priorities I have commissioned guest blog posts from authors and topical experts to tie in with campaigns, book releases and national events. I love going to conferences and exhibition fairs – I have immensely enjoyed meeting such interesting characters who have spent years researching a niche area of theology.

What are you reading?

Bonjour Tristesse by Francois Sagan – a beautifully evocative portrayal of the south of France and  summer romance

Where are you reading it?

When I read I don’t want any distractions so I don’t tend to read whilst commuting. I much prefer to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon absorbed in a good book and it’s the perfect way to relax in the evenings too.

How are you reading it?

I will never be a digital convert. I have a beautiful Penguin Modern Classic edition

What percentage have you read?

I’m sadly nearing the end

Would you recommend it?

Definitely – read it if only because when it was released it caused outrage. But seriously, you know it’s good when you read another page at any given opportunity. It’s a coming of age story (with a twist) that is as relevant today as when it was written. It has the sense of revelling in carefree pleasure which really only comes with living a life of privilege without responsibility.

Why does it matter?

It matters because it brilliantly captures a pivotal moment in most people’s lives. Sagan’s style is so atmospheric, that it’s impossible to not be transported and moved by her words. The characterisation is realistic and the storyline poignant.

What else are you reading?

I do love a good psychological thriller and I find they are the perfect holiday read so I’m also reading Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent and Disclaimer by Renee Knight. Thoroughly recommended!

A View of Publishing in 2014

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With between 15 % to 25% of book sales shifting to digital format by 2015, the book industry is having to adapt to a whole new digital environment. The digital transition has forced authors, publishers, distributors and retailers to re-evaluate business models and relationships with one another. Several significant challenges will have to continue to be addressed such as pricing policies that secure the changing sources of profit and the redefined networks of distribution that maintain format diversity. More readers demand material which will provide an interactive experience. The Times and Sunday Times pioneered digital subscriptions and since February 2012 the number of people who receive a digital version of the newspaper has risen by 20%. Scholastic recently published findings of a study carried out which found that since 2010 the percentage of children aged 9 to 17 who have read an e-book almost doubled while the number who say they’ll continue to read books in print instead of electronically declined from 66% to 58%.

So, I thought that I would share some thoughts on what the current publishing picture looks like, what changes have been demanded from the industry and the trends that were highlighted in 2013.

  • Printed content love affair

There were many of us who thought that the start of the digital age heralded the end of the printed copy. In the same way that valedictories for the radio were proved to be somewhat premature with radio now continuing to thrive in the age of new media, publishers have responded with more and more experimenting with innovative cover designs and layouts in a bid to encourage readers to buy print over digital. Penguin have reproduced classic texts in a range of collectible books which feature designs from Jessica Hische and which include the work of authors whose surnames begin with a beautifully illustrated letter.

In addition, the fact that an e-book cannot be given away or sold once it has been read may also reduce the perceived value of the product. I think that what has become increasingly evident however is that for a publication to be viable, printed content needs to also be available online.

  • Metadata and consumer data

It has become very important for publishers to make effective use of data detailing readership and consumption as unless they can identify who is reading the content, it is difficult to tailor specific marketing campaigns. Data analysis serves as a tool for gaining insight into consumer behaviour and preference. Without data, publishers will be uninformed as to the wants and requirements of the market as we shift towards a digital retail environment.

The book­shop has traditionally been the primary means of book discovery but in view of the fact that sales are increasingly being made online, bookshops will come to have a much reduced role in the way in which books are sold and marketed with search optimisation and social media taking precedence.  In the online scenario, a reader is confronted with an limitless selection of books. Results are based on rec­om­men­da­tion and search algo­rithms dri­ven by key­words and the metadata of a book which consists of author biography, sample chapters and reviews.

  • Reader Interaction and Social Media

Amazon has forced publishers to raise their game in their relentless engagement with readers. Publishers do not have access to the same levels of data and consumer information as Amazon and are now having to fully utilize social media for content marketing, search visibility (e.g. on Twitter) and development of relationships between the deliverers of content and the readers themselves.

  • Crowdfunding

Arguably the most significant trend in 2013, it will be interesting to see how this new platform for publishing work is factored into the landscape of 2014. At once a funding platform and a publishers, Unbound has placed books “in the hands of” the readers. The founders of Unbound say that it “democratises the book commissioning process by enabling authors and readers to make the decisions about what gets published”.