Fun at Ferment

The opportunity to complete a placement as part of my degree was one of the deciding factors in my decision to undertake an MSc in Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University. Having the chance to put theoretical skills into practice in a real professional environment is obviously valuable for any student. When the time came to choose a placement I knew that I wanted to learn more about magazine publishing, particularly drinks magazine publishing, so Ferment, the UK’s No.1 Craft Beer Magazine, seemed like the ideal candidate. 

I first came across Ferment at the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) Scottish Magazine Awards in 2017 where they won Best Customer Magazine. Having expressed an interest in magazine publishing after completing my case study on another drinks magazine, I was fortunate enough to be offered this opportunity through the MSc Publishing course. It was a really helpful insight into Scottish magazines, giving me an overview of what was out there and who were the ones to watch. Plus, it introduced me to Ferment and gave me the perfect opportunity to force myself into the dreaded territory of networking.

Fast-forward a month or so and my placement was all sorted. We worked out a mutually convenient day for me to come in, Friday, and discussed what I wanted to learn and how I could help the magazine. In the end we agreed that I would focus on organising a bottle-share type event across different cities, ultimately defining a template for these events that the magazine could use after I’d finished my placement. The events were designed to serve two purposes, the first was to supply content for a double-page spread in the new city guide feature, whilst the second was to strengthen the sense of community amongst the readers.

Organising the first of these in Glasgow was so much fun. I loved getting everything ready, choosing the venue, securing which beers would be featured and even making up goodie bags with branded freebies and old-fashioned sweeties. Having come from a bartending background with experience in cocktails and craft beer, I really relished being responsible for an event like this. When we arrived at the venue it was a friend I’d worked with previously who was leading the tasting, which really made it much easier to orchestrate it exactly as I’d planned.

The event went perfectly in the end and the template has now been set, making subsequent events much easier to organise. At the end of it all, magazine publishing, and publishing in general, is a people business where the connections you make become your most valued possessions. Above all else, that’s what I’ve taken from my time at Ferment. Well, that and a new found appreciation for Bluegrass covers and cups of herbal tea. Thanks guys! 


A Publishing Student’s Duty of Homage

I’ve always been fascinated by stories. Despite having been born to very scientifically minded parents I struggled to get excited over chemistry and physics. Novels were always my favourite and I spent many solitary summers sat under trees making friends with ink on paper.  I love the insight fiction gives me and I’ve never lost that sense of wonder you find when a book lets you into someone else’s world.

      But my life, indeed all of our lives, would be very different if not for the pioneering work of one German – Johannes Gutenberg. Gutenberg revolutionised the book industry during the mid 1450s. Before the introduction of his – the very first – printing press with moveable metal type, books were exclusively reserved for a privileged few and no ordinary child had the luxury of literary escapism. Indeed, Gutenberg’s press offered the first viable alternative to either hand copying or engraved wooden block-printing. This may well have been one of the most important inventions to redefine social and cultural norms in the West.

      There is great power in the printed word. The strict monitoring and fundamental censorship of printers which we see across Early Modern Britain reflects this power. Print, in effect, has the capacity to mobilise thought, at times dangerous and rebellious thought, across great distances. In 15th century Europe, it was to become inextricably tied up with the Renaissance and Luther’s Reformation. Certainly, prior to Gutenberg’s design, the incredible expense involved in producing printed texts had allowed them – and the knowledge they contained – to be largely monopolised by the Catholic Church and its supporters. This, in turn, helped to preserve the status quo and associated imbalance of wealth.

      With the development of Gutenberg’s comparatively quick and economical press came the increased distribution of knowledge. Alongside the religious and – at this time unavoidably connected – political implications, came the significant promise of cultural revolution. It was this man’s invention which ultimately led to the establishment of our nation’s long-term literary affair. Without Gutenberg I would never have found the bookish solace that fuelled my childhood dreams nor discovered my passion for publishing.

      To overstate the value of this man and his invention is difficult for a self-confessed book lover. It is perhaps not so surprising then that my discovery of the wonderful Edward Clark Collection at Edinburgh Napier was such a joy. To have access to over 5000 items documenting the history of Western printing is an invaluable tool for any invested publishing student. Here are examples of the most beautifully printed and illustrated texts ranging from the 15th century onwards and providing amazing insight into the historical development of the book. What is more, here lies a real, preserved page of an original, 15th century Gutenberg Bible – go and see it.

      Located in the heart of Napier’s Merchiston Campus, this academic source is easily accessible to students and offers practical demonstrations of printing and typographical techniques. It is a hidden treasure in a modern and vocationally-focused university and it is the most amazing of spaces. As Napier publishing students we not only owe a debt to Gutenberg for allowing the development of the commercial book trade, but also to Edward Clark and the custodians of his legacy – the Edward Clark Collection. It is important that we recognise these debts and utilise what is made available to us. For this reason, I highly recommend you visit the Edward Clark Collection and pay homage to Gutenberg’s great, and revolutionary gift.

The Edward Clark Collection is located at the Edinburgh Napier Merchiston Campus. Academics are welcomed to visit the Collection. Appointments can be made through the Merchiston Campus Library or via Marian Kirton, Information Services Advisor.