The Publishing Scotland Conference was an event that attracted many different people from the industry. This year was special and particularly appealing because both publishers and booksellers attended on the same day. The change was meant to give publishers and booksellers a chance to discuss problems they are facing in this difficult economic climate, and perhaps come up with solutions, which resulted in many interesting conversations during the conference.
One person who joined the conference was the famous actor, and now new author John Gordon Sinclair. The session he held was both entertaining and informative. He had many interesting things to say about what he has achieved in his career, what drew him to writing, and how he felt about the whole process of writing a book. He was witty and funny and was a great start to the day.
Following John was a discussion of Retail Market Trends of 2012/13. This was presented by Steve Bohme. Hearing what he had to say made one feel better about the current problems facing publishers and booksellers. Yes, there were plenty of examples of drops in sales, but there was also evidence showing that things could be done to help improve the situation. Steve also managed to deliver this information in an entertaining way.
Then there was a panel of booksellers speaking of the future of the High Street. This panel included: Neil Best, Waterstones; Bob Kelly, Gardners Books; Patrick Neale, Jaffe & Neale; David Prescott, Blackwell’s; and Matthew Perren, Bookspeed. Much of what they had to say was about a need for a more personal store; a need for book shopping to become more of a positive experience for people. The discussion revolved around providing customers with more than just books, also a pleasant atmosphere, and a reason to support the bookstore. Suggestions included getting involved in the community. It was all very interesting, and seemed to suggest a need to go back to what bookstores once were.
From there, a presentation was held about Digital. At this point the publishers and booksellers split into separate groups. Having been in the publishers group, I can say that what was discussed was very interesting. One can see the benefits of digital when used properly, especially for the purposes of market research. The first speaker, Lindsay Mooney from Kobo, had very detailed and interesting statics gathered from market research; information that can be extremely useful to any publishing company with an online presence. Then there was Charlie Stephenson from YUDU, who provided a great deal of insight into establishing a presence among communities online.
Following this there was a presentation held by Jamie Keenan and Jon Gray, two very funny, rather self-deprecating, and unbelievably talented cover illustrators. Their presentation of The 20 Irrefutable Theories of Book Cover Designing was very enjoyable. While hearing joke after funny joke, one also got to see a slide show of all the beautiful covers that these men have created. It was a lot of fun and one of my favorite presentations.
Next was a presentation about consumer’s ebook purchasing behaviors by David Walter from Nielsen BookScan. It certainly established things that I had suspected, and also surprised me. According to the research, while ebook purchasing is rising, print books are still the largest part of the market and therefore should not be neglected; something that should be of some comfort to publishers and booksellers alike.
Overall the conference was informative, entertaining, and in my opinion, a great success. The bringing together of publishers and booksellers did seem to be a positive change, and the discussions held were interesting and very much relevant to today’s issues. It was an experience I greatly enjoyed.