Partnership with Blackwell’s Bookshop!

To celebrate Academic Book Week 2017, we have partnered with Blackwell’s Bookshop to blog, tweet and generally make a noise about academic publishing from Edinburgh, Scotland!

Blackwell’s Bookshop on South Bridge is the oldest bookshop in Edinburgh and currently has over 250,000 titles in stock ranging from Scottish Fiction to Medical.

Blackwell’s is already an ally of ours. Jaki (Academic Manager) and Ann (Events & Connect Manager) are frequently on campus, not just selling course books, but actively working with the MSc Publishing programme team to enhance the skills of our Publishing postgrads, and show them what it really means to Publish. A. Book. That. Will. Sell!

So, all this week we will be shouting about the great academic books published and sold here in Scotland including, of course, our own recent publication: Innovations in Learning and Teaching, edited by Christine Penman and Dr Monika Foster, and now on sale in – you guessed it – Blackwell’s, Edinburgh!

Find out more about Innovations in Learning and Teaching

Find out more about Academic Book Week:

Discover Blackwell’s Bookshop, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1YS


Back to School at Blackwell’s

Founded in 1879 by Benjamin Henry Blackwell, famous academic retailer Blackwell’s is a fascinating business to spend time within. The Southbridge Blackwell’s in Edinburgh has its own history. They took over the location from James Thin in 2002 when the company went into administration.  The Edinburgh shop, while proud of its heritage, makes a marked effort to survive in difficult and challenging times for the industry.

I spent my time as a part of the Back to Schools team working to provide children with the books they need for the coming year. Part of the annual scheme is to buy back second hand books. These books are then used to fulfil orders that request second-hand over new.

Used with the kind permission of Blackwell's
Used with the kind permission of Blackwell’s

As part of the back to schools team I split my time between the back office and the academic floor. In the back office I booked the bought second-hand stock into the system and created orders that required this second-hand stock. Working on the academic floor gave me a chance to interact with the customers and work on the till. I also moved stock to create the schools display and put together orders that request new books.

Working at Blackwell’s is a great way to learn more about the final step in publishing – the selling. Arguably the most important part of the process, it is useful experience to learn what customers really want. In this case, this experience consists of secondary school pupils in Edinburgh and the textbooks used by the private schools.

This insight is invaluable as it is rarely that publishers can see directly which books are wanted by customers. Some titles are in high demand but have been declared out of print by the publisher. I wonder if that would be the case if they had seen the demand.

It’s great to have a chance to see publishing from all sides, and it’s important to see the industry as a whole to bring fresh ideas to future projects and working at Blackwell’s has given me a great insight into the final step of the academic publishing process.

Another visit from our author and exciting news!

Yesterday we received another visit from our author, Aileen Paterson!


She came in to see how we were getting on and to offer feedback on what we have been working on. We even got to see some of the new illustrations she has done for Maisie and the Night Visitor! All we can say for now is that they look great. Of course, we can’t show you any of them now, but watch this space for more updates from the Maisie team!


That isn’t our only news today… we are proud to announce that Blackwell’s Edinburgh will be exclusively stocking Maisie and the Night Visitor in a limited print run. Until you get your paws on Maisie’s latest book, you can pop into Blackwell’s Edinburgh and pick up some fantastic Maisie merchandise. They have jigsaws, mugs, prints, magnets and really cute Maisie tote bags. Blackwell’s have a long history of stocking the Maisie books and have been incredibly supportive of the project. We are very excited about the opportunity and can’t wait to see our book on the shelves in Blackwell’s.


Next week Maisie and the team are heading to the London Book Fair, so stay tuned for lots more Maisie related news coming soon!






Publishing Scotland Conference

publishing scotland comp.
Photograph By Lindsay Flannigan

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.