The absolutely stunning Stationers’ Hall was the setting for the New Trends in Publishing Seminar 2016, hosted by BIC and sponsored by Nielsen Book and Ricoh. Being entirely new to the publishing industry, I felt slightly nervous as I walked into the opulent old rooms of the hall, which were filled with beautiful furniture, lavish paintings and exquisite antiques. However, I was immediately made to feel welcome as I registered with the lovely Alaina-Marie and met with other soon-to-be UCL Publishing students (and, of course, obtained the essential cup of tea and biscuit!).
I thought I might feel rather lost during the talks, having no previous publishing experience. However, as the first talk got underway, my concerns very quickly dissolved. It proved to be a hugely enlightening talk by Ruth Jones, Director of Publishing Business Development at Ingram Content Group, about the dynamic publishing supply chain and the changes (and challenges) it now faces due to the ever-growing variety of digital publishing formats. It grew particularly interesting as the discussion turned to how the video game industry and the book industry are increasingly collaborating to create brand new, stimulating reading experiences.
The second talk was highly thought-provoking, not to mention inspiring. It was given by Richard Orme, Chief Executive of the DAISY Consortium, a group of organisations dedicated to ensuring everyone can experience reading and all the benefits associated with it. This talk concerned accessibility in publishing, developing different formats for books to make them accessible to those with ‘print disabilities’, and taking the focus away from reading small, fixed text, to reading with larger fonts, colours, the ears (e.g. with digital ‘talking books’) or the fingers (e.g. with braille). Richard Orme emphasized that gadgets, devices and software prove vital to this; what particularly caught my attention was a braille gadget which can mould to reflect the writing on a screen. This eye-opening talk made me realise how the publishing industry has a valuable opportunity to bring reading, culture and education to everyone, regardless of ability.
The third talk given by Natalie Smith, Associate at Harbottle & Lewis, took a legal turn, as the discussion turned to data protection laws, again a highly interesting area. It focused on the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is due to come into force in 2018 for EU countries, strengthening the rights of data subjects, enforcing accountability for compliance to data protection obligations, and significantly increasing punitive fines, among other things. However, the unexpected Brexit result has made matters confusing for the UK; namely, to what extent will this new legislation affect the UK, whether we are in the EU when it comes into force, or out? Natalie Smith stressed that at present no certain answers can be given, but many questions are now being asked.
In the fourth talk of the day, André Breedt of Nielsen Book presented numerous statistics and graphs concerning key findings from Nielsen’s refreshed White Paper. It was interesting to see the new consumer trends in such a straightforward format, although – I must admit – slightly perplexing for someone brand new to the world of publishing! I’m sure, however, that as my publishing knowledge grows, these numbers will begin to make perfect sense!
Finally, we had a very informative talk about the importance of managing intellectual property and rights in publishing, given by Florin Craciun, Head of Sales at Ingenta. He emphasized the huge value of creating a rights portfolio audit, allowing a publisher to clarify assets, assess the rights they have for certain content, and thus exploit new ways of using that content to create revenue, among other benefits. In this way, publishers can adapt content to readers’ ever-evolving tastes, and use old content in new, innovative ways. Crucially, however, publishers must have the necessary rights to do so, or may risk lawsuits against them.
All in all, this was a hugely enjoyable event, and I was able to learn a lot about the publishing industry in just one fascinating morning. A huge thanks must go to BIC for the opportunity to attend this event, and to the speakers for such engaging presentations which have provided me with an exciting and in-depth start to publishing. I am now more excited than ever to study Publishing at UCL, and eagerly await the start of the course!