I was grateful to be able to spend two weeks on a placement with Alban Books. Alban, based in Edinburgh, specialise in the sales, marketing and distribution of spiritual and religious books from around six American publishers.

Upon arrival to their offices in the picturesque Dean Village, I was shown to my own desk, computer and email address. With preparation under way for the Fall 2014 releases, was immediately launched into testing my proof-reading skills by going through a large batch of AI sheets – I was grateful for the chance to improve my editorial skills.

My Desk at Alban Books
My Desk at Alban Books

Being very interested in the marketing side of the industry, I was lucky enough to be able to sit in on the marketing strategy meeting for the Fall 2014 releases, an invaluable experience, which has given me a wonderful insight into marketing strategy and planning. I was impressed at how everyone was able to identify the books that they thought would be big sellers and the approach that would be taken over promoting them.

My design skills, too, were put to the test, with flyers and order forms for various conferences and scholarly meetings tasked to me. Having not been 100% assured by my own skills, I was happy to improve them, and am optimistic they are of a high enough standard to represent Alban at their relevant conferences.

One of the key things I learned at Alban Books is how important it is to maintain and up-to-date and accurate website. Alban has such a website. Having been made an administrator of the site, I went through a database of titles with minor issues to fix them. Tracking down information about books from other publisher’s websites which were not so well maintained could be frustrating; it was easy to imagine putting myself in a customer’s shoes and feeling equally, if not more frustrated.

I enjoyed the wide variety of titles I was able to work on during my time at Alban: everything from autobiographical accounts from American Civil War leaders to delightful children’s picture books explaining the origination of the Thesaurus.

Before my placement began, I was very keen, not only to improve my existing skills in a professional environment, but to learn new skills as well. Programmes such as Mail Chimp, Amazon advantage as well as aspects of Microsoft Excel gave me the chance to do this. I am still amazed by and cannot fathom how Alban’s AI Sheet generator works, safe in the knowledge that had sliced bread not come around, this would be the benchmark for comparison.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Alban Books, and learned a great deal too. I am extremely grateful to everyone for their guidance and for making me feel so welcome. I was even included in the World Cup sweepstakes (at the time of writing I am a loyal Belgium and Brazil fan – my other teams let me down) and the occasional Friday afternoon bar of chocolate! I look forward to continuing on at Alban one day a week in the future.