Prof advises Guardian Careers Blog

Photo of Prof McCleery smilingYesterday, Professor McCleery was invited to contribute to the Guardian Careers Blog on Publishing studies.

The live Blog offered anyone the chance to put questions about a career in publishing to a small panel of experts drawn from companies such as Penguin and agencies such as Skillset. Professor McCleery, from Edinburgh Napier University, was the only representative from Higher Education.

Publishing is the UK’s largest creative industry. It is a popular career choice for many graduates, and is incredibly hard to get into without appropriate work experience, or a relevant undergraduate or Postgraduate qualification.

The blog can be viewed on the Guardian website:


Long-distance commute pays off for Edinburgh Napier student

A dedicated Publishing student who travelled 120 miles each day to attend classes has won a major national award. Competing against students from across the UK, Laura Kincaid of Edinburgh Napier was awarded first prize for her indepth research into the publishing industry.

This prestigious annual award, run by the UK Association for Publishing Education (UK APE, and the Sue Thomson Foundation, selects the best Publishing dissertation in the whole of the UK. The distinguished dissertation award is judged by publishing industry experts, with representatives from well known publishers such as Penguin, Pearson and Hachette UK.

Submissions were received from UK APE universities teaching publishing, and the dissertations covered a range of research topics. Following a rigorous selection process, the judging panel nominated Laura Kincaid of Edinburgh Napier as the overall Undergraduate winner. Her exemplary dissertation is entitled: ‘Are publishers in control? An examination of the power dynamics of UK consumer trade publishers’ relationships with Amazon’.

Laura joined BA (Hons) Publishing in 2nd year and not only excelled in this piece of independent research, but also in the practical group work. Of notable success was the live project module which saw her class publish a brand new Aromatherapy textbook, regarded as the prominent book in its field, as well as a new edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles‘, the latter being distributed to schools and libraries across Scotland. Laura is currently employed at the Edinburgh-based publishing house Canongate, where she has been working since graduating with a First Class Honours degree. ‘Receiving this award was both a surprise and a delight. I’m thrilled to have my work recognized in this way,’ she said.

The judges – John Whitley (Chair) of the Publishing Training Centre, Hachette UK consultant Martin Neild, Pearson’s Lynette Owen and Simon Winder of Penguin – commented on the high standard of submission. ‘Laura’s work was a brave piece on a highly relevant and contentious area… to be commended for its comprehensive overview of a relevant and difficult subject,’ said Whitley.

Speaking on behalf of UK APE, Alison Baverstock congratulated Laura and emphasized the role now played by universities such as Edinburgh Napier in developing and maintaining research into the publishing industry. ‘Publishing today is a fast-moving industry… Universities teaching publishing studies now offer the opportunity to place the industry within a wider framework of thinking: bringing together best practice, a broad awareness of trends within the business environment, and a vital historical and international perspective.’

Professor Alistair McCleery, Subject Group Leader of Publishing studies at Edinburgh Napier, and Director of the Scottish Centre for the Book, highlighted Edinburgh Napier’s leading role in Publishing education: ‘This award, in competition against all the other UK universities, reflects the strength and depth with which Edinburgh Napier equips its publishing students.’

In praising Laura’s tremendous achievement he added: ‘The competition and the high standard of entries is a testament to the excellence of publishing research in the UK. Laura’s dissertation reflects the diversity and quality of the teaching at Edinburgh Napier and further supports our standing as an International Centre of Excellence in Publishing Education, supporting world-class research across a broad spectrum of publishing activities. Laura’s achievement, like those of our other young publishing professionals, confirms our commitment to practice-based, industry-recognised learning.’

Alexander McCall Smith Guest Lecture

students with Alexander McCall Smith
Students with Alexander McCall Smith

On 25 March, the Edinburgh based writer, Prof Alexander McCall Smith, the author of over sixty books (including the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series and the 44 Scotland Street series), stopped between his travels around the world to come and give a talk to students on the English and Publishing degrees at Edinburgh Napier University. Dr Bashabi Fraser (lecturer in Creative Writing), who organised the event, has had a stream of messages from students and staff since then, all saying how enthralled they were by the session.

The students were both inspired and mesmerised, and took away free signed copies of McCall Smith’s books which will probably be cherished keepsakes to be shown off in the future as a reminder of what was a truly riveting experience.

What happens when you mix publishing and fashion?

You get outofprintclothing, an independent fashion company that produces t-shirts based on iconic out of print book covers. They treat covers the way they should be, like pieces of art that should be appreciated every day. The best thing of all is that for every t-shirt bought they donate books to communities that need them. I just stumbled across the website and thought that everyone would appreciate this venture.

On The Road - Jack Kerouac

More after the jump.

Continue reading “What happens when you mix publishing and fashion?”

Imagined Corners Launch

Once again, third-year Publishing students and Merchiston Publishing have undertaken the task of re-releasing a classic novel – this time it’s Willa Muir’s Imagined Corners.
Information on the author, the novel, and the project itself can be found on the student-run blog, available here.

What we’d like is for those of you who are interested to vote on the cover image. Have a look at these covers… Continue reading “Imagined Corners Launch”

Reinvigorating old titles

Most budding publishers aren’t likely to be set loose on Dan Brown’s latest title or even a new outing into the proper usage ot Engerlish by Lynne Truss; more likely we’ll be looking at finding revenue and accolade elsewhere, helping out with the slush pile or checking potential in titles out of copyright.

Here at Edinburgh Napier we publishing students are happily engaged in breathing life into classics from the Scots canon. Recent years have seen us reinvigorating titles such as Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. Soon to be released is John Buchan’s The 39 Steps and The Private Memoirs and Confessions of  Justified Sinner by James Hogg.

Cover Illustration by Cate James
Cover Illustration by Cate James

In the wider world of publishing, the backlist and long tail are where revenue can be raised with less effort than bringing a new title to publication (an interesting analysis of the publishing long tail can be found here) .

Recently Puffin won marketing plaudits with a campaign to celebrate the 40th year in print of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, the world-wide sales of which exceed 29 million copies and must represent a significant income stream for the publishers. It must come as no surprise that many of the reported best selling titles are of significant age, their are many other titles whose long selling ability have meant their constant re-edition has provided income and reading pleasure without troubling the legendary best sellers.

It transpires that the title that brought the publishing industry into being (in Western tradition), the Bible, is now being released in a new format. The Glo Bible is evidence that even the oldest of titles can be brought up to date and made more  relevant for  a contemporary readership.

In other biblical publishing news the electronic delivery of content has fused with another internet meme to give the LOLcat bible to the world – who’d a thunk it?

The point is that authors write and create, publishers (obviously) publish and many of these titles see all this work disappear in a matter of years if not months. With careful thought to relevance, updating and repackaging some of these titles can go on to enjoy a second, third and more-th incarnation, bringing reading pleasure to a wider audience and creating income, brand and reputation to publishers old and new.