An important part of our publishing degree is securing and conducting a placement with a company in the industry in order to gain hands-on experience. I was lucky enough to arrange six weeks of work experience with the Edinburgh-based distribution service, Alban Books. Initially wary of how I would juggle the placement alongside my studies, it ended up serving as a perfect accompaniment to the theoretical and design based work I was being introduced to during my course. Continue reading “My work experience with Alban Books”
Justine Bottles packed her bags and moved from New York City to Edinburgh to pursue her MSc Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University. Through the program she has had the opportunity to attend the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair, serve as Marketing Manager on an exciting student project, and pursued placements at Alban Books and Floris Books. She hopes to achieve a career in children’s and young adult books in this city’s vibrant publishing industry.
Her interests outside the classroom include reading a variety of genres from Victorian literature to modern science fiction and fantasy, amateur photography, watching movies, and exploring the city of Edinburgh.
Follow her exciting adventures as a publishing student in the United Kingdom here.
At Alban Books, it’s all about the data.
High quality data, kept bang up to date and working hard to earn it’s living. This is what impressed me most during my work placement at the sales, marketing and distribution company based in Edinburgh and Bristol who distribute high quality Christian titles for eleven non-UK client publishers. Every member of staff value good data and communicate constantly with each other to keep all aspects of metadata up to date for each of the 7,000 active titles that they promote and distribute.
Marketing Manager Elaine Reid is no exception and keeps the marketing databases meticulously up to date whilst carrying out pre-agreed cyclical marketing campaigns for client- and owner-publishers. She does all this with a quiet air and this calm quality is something I very much appreciated when working on direct mail campaigns or updating the Content Management System (CMS) for the company’s website. I undertook my work placement during what is for us publishing students a very busy trimester, filled with live projects and a busy schedule of guest speakers and special events.
I looked forward to my day at Alban Books in the pretty Dean Village, Edinburgh; not only for the quiet, uncluttered open plan office but because I knew that I would get a warm and friendly welcome from the whole team:
Margaret Reid, administrator and marketing assistant, who often buzzed me into the beautiful sandstone basement office and greeted me with a smile; managing director Jonny Gallant, always friendly and full of interesting anecdotes (he knows everyone in the book trade!) in between growing the business and generally excelling at Excel; sales and marketing assistant, Nadia Suchdev (one of our MSc Publishing alumni) who, when she wasn’t out and about selling new titles to booksellers, was dazzling me with her impressive telephone manner and teaching me the esoteric arts of ‘seeding the trade’ and building rich product databases; and of course marketing manager Elaine Reid, who kept me busy designing direct mail shots as she quietly conquered the Christian book market while somehow always finding time to make sure that I had a cuppa.
Every morning I arrived to find a treat on my desk from someone different in the office and everyone always found the time in the middle of a busy workday to banter and tell stories. They were all genuinely interested in my MSc Publishing studies too.
On my last day the team surprised me with pizza, a game of Cluedo and a thoughtful gift, typical of their warmth and care. What can I say, I landed a ‘Plum’ internship at Alban Books that would make any publishing student ‘Green’ with envy!
I highly recommend this work placement if you’re interested in distribution, marketing and the optimisation of data to not only effectively reach your target audience but also to adapt working practices to offer clients the best service possible.
And of course, if you love high quality biscuits that magically appear when you need them most!
(Margaret won at Cluedo, by the way)
Just over two thirds of the way through their Publishing Masters and already our students are securing Publishing employment. The Publishing team are delighted to wish the following students every success in their new roles …
Anastasia Gorgan who has now started her new job with Bloomsbury!
Douglas Sloan who has been appointed Sales and Marketing Assistant at Edinburgh University Press.
Jade Regulski who has recently started at The List.
Harriet Leslie who has been offered full time employment at Palimpsest.
Camille Burns who has taken up the position of Editorial Assistant & Administration Executive in the Hodder Gibson department of Hachette UK.
Sophie Cachard, Jack Evans and Stewart Mciver have each been asked to continue with their placement companies, Handspring Publishing, Alban Books Ltd and Connect Communications respectively.
Congratulations once again! Please do continue to keep in touch and let us know how you are getting on!
Postgraduate Publishing team
Edinburgh Napier University
I feel that as students we all begin our placements with at least a slight hint of fear that the upcoming weeks will be bleak, tea-filled days upon days of photocopying and standing at the franking machine longing for something to sink our teeth in to. However, I can now say that being an intern at Alban Books is the polar opposite of these horror stories you might hear, in fact I was offered more cups of tea than days spent interning.
Alban Books, provider of sales, marketing, distribution and customer service in the UK and Europe for 6 US religious publishers, were my first choice for my placement option as I was really hoping to gain an insight in to the marketing side of the industry. I started my time with Alban Books on 18 March 2014 and after being shown to my very own desk with my own personalised email address I knew that I had made the right choice.
My first task really settled any worries I may have had. At my interview meeting I had expressed an interest in design and Jonny Gallant, the Marketing Director, really listens and plays towards your strengths and what you enjoy doing. With the design interest in mind I was set the task of putting together an email bulletin advertising their upcoming offers. My lack of HTML knowledge did make me wonder if I was up to this challenge but fortunately I was introduced to Mail Chimp. This online tool is amazing and allows you to create well-designed emails. I had a lot of fun putting together the email bulletin and found Mail Chimp extremely easy to use quite quickly. Design and marketing! This was exactly what I wanted to be doing. Continue reading “Alban Books Publishing Placement”
I’d heard stories from students who had interned before; bleak, tea-filled narratives about being chained to photocopiers and blinded by endless Excel spreadsheet grids. Despite this, I was rather looking forward to my placement, although I hoped the horror stories, rather than being a sign of what was to come, were in fact just anecdotes exaggerated to make them good for sharing down at the pub.
I secured my spot at Alban Books Ltd; a sales, marketing and distribution company who provide services in the UK and Europe for seven big US publishers. I started on the 15th March 20
12 and came into the office to be introduced to my desk (I had my own desk!) and my computer (with a personalised email account!!). So far, so good.
My first task was wholly unrelated to hot beverages; in fact it was to write copy for Advanced Information sheets for a list of new autumn titles, the details of which had just been released. In at the deep end, but it was interesting and it got me familiar with the titles I would be working with over the next month or so.
My office duties over the next few weeks varied from A.I. creation to direct mail material/e-Newsletter compilation and design to data entry for Alban Books’ new website that is launching over the summer. It took a while but now my eyes, rather than melting at the sight of an overwhelmingly packed Excel spreadsheet, are now finely attuned to picking out the details I want – this must be what it’s like to be a real grown-up with a marketing job!
The office itself is a great place to work: there are only four others in the office and the banter is great. Topics of conversation range from “Which are better, robots or dinosaurs?” to “Will dressing your baby up like an idiot make them hate you in later life?” while at Easter we had a ‘design your own egg’ competition with lots of felt tips(the raw state the eggs were in made for a couple of smelly casualties!).
The whole placement wasn’t spent in the office though; at my initial interview with the Managing Director, Jonny Gallant, I was given a task that I could really get my teeth into. I had mentioned my love of children’s books and the M.D. suggested I look at the children’s list that they manage, the sales of which weren’t as high as they should be. I was given dummy copies of some new titles and sent on my merry way…into a void with no leads or answers. It was intimidating at first but it got me jamming my thinking cap on my head and straining the ol’ grey cells to think back to those heady days of trimester one and the marketing lessons we’d had at Craighouse campus. I worked my way through the various factors that have an effect on product sales and with a big help from a focus group of Waterstones Children’s Book Buyers I got lots of help with my quandary and was able to bring a lot of good information back to Alban Books. It’s an ongoing project, but one that I hope will have a positive impact on sales.
I’ve had a great time at Alban Books: I’ve learnt a lot about marketing which was the area I was weakest in, in regards to of publishing, and also I’ve had the opportunity to really help the company – a chance that many interns don’t seem to get. I was asked to stay on at the office and I happily accepted – I’ve got a lot of unfinished business to attend to!