My Placement with Jennie Renton

This trimester, I am working with Jennie Renton as an editorial intern. As most of us who now belong to Edinburgh’s book world will probably already know, Jennie can be found in Main Point Books, one of West Port’s eclectic and exciting second-hand bookshops. An admirable multi-tasker, one of Jennie’s many roles is freelance editing in the offices at the back of her quirky shop.

Working with Jennie has been an ideal opportunity for me for many reasons. At the beginning of the internship, we got together to speak about my interests and how they may align with editorial projects she is interesting in working on. Keeping my passions relevant has always been important to me, and it soon appeared my interest in social activism and community work linked up with a local history project that Jennie is working on. Without further ado we began our adventure in planning a new book together.

This is a project Jennie is obviously very passionate about, so I was quite daunted at first. After a few weeks, however, I began to feel at ease and more confident that this is a project I could be helpful with, and certainly one I could be passionate about.

The ever-changing window display at Main Point Books

My work so far has included researching and reading through archives relevant to central Edinburgh’s history, conducting interviews, and editing and transcribing voice recordings. As the weeks go on, I will hopefully play a role in planning the book layout itself.

It has been an extremely interesting project for me personally, as well as a productive learning experience. I’m not from Edinburgh, though I have fallen in love with this city, so it has also been a great way for me to become closer with the history and community of this fantastic place that has taken me into its arms.

The location of Jennie’s offices is my favourite thing about this placement. I have always loved nothing more than being lost in a bookshop and no better place for a book lover than Main Point Books. It’s a place I wandered into on the first week I moved to Scotland last August, and where I picked up a number of obscure Woolfian works that I had not been able to find elsewhere. Needless to say, it’s been a favourite ever since!

Seeing Jennie manage the shop along with many other tasks has been particularly interesting for me, as a person who would like to dabble in several different areas of publishing and book selling. There’s always a story to be told about the eccentric characters who come into Jennie’s shop, and the interesting books they buy and sell there. With her clever wit and impressive amount of experience, the greatest character is probably Jennie herself and she has a lot of wisdom and witticisms to impart on any budding young publisher. She’ll be sure to send you on your way with a smile on your face at the end of the day.

I would recommend an internship with Jennie Renton to anyone interested in gaining first hand experience of original and challenging publishing projects. This placement is especially relevant to anyone hoping to become more involved in the book world of central Edinburgh, and gather an insight into the Edinburgh publishing scene.


Let’s get researching: my time at Four Letter Word

TwoCoversAs a student new to the publishing industry at the beginning of the course, formerly a psychology graduate, the publishing placement was one I was avidly looking forward to. Desperately divided between my love of books and magazines, I chose new magazine Four Letter Word as the placement to be. Four Letter Word is a magazine that discusses what it is to be human in the 21st century, looking at gender, transhumanism and augmented living (e.g. technology’s impact on our conceptions of being human), food, fashion, arts and culture. It celebrates gender and sexual diversity, and nothing quite like it exists in the magazine market right now. As students on the course last year, the women behind theFLW are proof that the course works, so of course I wanted to learn from them. As a company dedicated to celebrating diversity, and magazine design that kills, this was the company for me. Continue reading “Let’s get researching: my time at Four Letter Word”

Connect Publications: An Insight into Contract Publishing

Connect Publications is a leading contract publisher in the UK, creating print and digital publications for businesses, membership organisations and charities. Their clients include BAE Systems, Rolls Royce Marine, FMC Technologies and the Weir Group.

Connect’s main office is in Paisley, but I was based at their smaller office in Leith, where I was working with Daniel Lambie, Head of Development and Client Services. Having told Daniel that I had some experience in marketing and an interest in design, he developed three projects for me to work on while I was with the company.

Firstly, I was tasked with developing a brand for a series of educational events that Connect is planning to run in the coming months. I researched similar events being run by other companies, and looked into how they were marketing them. Over a few weeks, I designed a logo for the events and chose the name ‘Connect Conversations’.

Secondly, I was asked to research ideas for an infographic about Connect and the world of contract publishing. Daniel was keen to have a simple, eye-catching graphic for Connect’s website that quickly explained to potential clients what services they could offer. Together we came up with an idea for the ‘anatomy’ of Connect, featuring the different services relating to various parts of the body.

A selection of Connect's publications, across print, web and digital platforms
A selection of Connect’s publications, across print, web and digital platforms

Finally, I was asked to help with the making of a new video for Connect’s website. The current one features magazines that have since been rebranded, so Daniel wanted to create something up-to-date and different. I drafted a script and storyboard for a new video, which will be filmed by other members of the Connect team soon.

The Leith team were friendly and welcoming, and I learnt a lot from them while chatting over lunch as well as in the office. Unfortunately, I finished my placement before these projects came to a close. However, the input I made was both interesting and informative for me, and I really enjoyed my time with Connect. I look forward to seeing the finished products!

Magfest 2014

magfest2014As part of the MSc Magazine Publishing and MSc Publishing programme, our students are given the opportunity to help at Magfest, the premier event for anyone interested in the innovative world of magazine publishing.

This year we are proud to be Strategic Partners of Magfest, and here you get a flavour of what a fantastic event it was.

Central to this year’s event was the concept of “innovation” in the magazine industry and how magazine publishers are responding to changing content consumption patterns.

“Innovation is about taking what you’ve got and doing something sexy with it…”


Magfest Issue #03 was a sell-out event with over 200 magazine publishers, designers, writers and advertisers all attending, and we were delighted to have played such a key part in such an important event in the magazine publishing calendar.

PPA_Scotland logo.ashxMagfest is organised by PPA Scotland and the steering group includes Nick Creed, Carnyx Group Ltd and Eric Campbell, MD at White Light Media – both of which companies also offer placements to our students.

Find out more and register for magfest 2015:


My Placement at Scottish Wedding Directory

IMG_5338I love all things fashion and beauty, so when the opportunity to spend my placement at Scottish Wedding Directory cropped up, I jumped at the opportunity. While my placement may have involved quite a bit of travel, it was definitely worth it. I spent the first week in the main DC Thomson office in Dundee before heading to Glasgow for my second week to work with the Editor and Online Features Editor.

If you’ve ever been inside the DC Thomson Kingsway office then you know that place is a complete maze, and I definitely got lost on more than one occasion. However, if you look out for the giant Dennis the Menace costume you’ll find the main office for most of the company’s publications. The office has a great atmosphere with so many different types of magazines and newspapers in the one place, from Shout magazine to The People’s Friend. And in one corner you’ll find the Scottish Wedding Directory team.

During my time in Dundee I got to develop my design skills working on fashion spreads and Continue reading “My Placement at Scottish Wedding Directory”

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.

Placement at Luath Press

One of three desks where I would work.
Battling my way through the masses of early bird festival-goers towards Edinburgh Castle, I completely missed the entrance to Luath Press on what was to be my first day there. Indeed, it is easy to miss the little offshoot from the main street where, upon being promptly buzzed in, you climb up several flights of stairs to be met by a vibrant, well-oiled machine of an office. I was greeted by Danielle, who was also completing a work placement, and who would, along with the staff at Luath, help me along my way over the course of the next week.
After being introduced to director Gavin MacDougall, who brought me up to speed with what Luath Press is all about, I was handed a long list of tasks I would hopefully be able to complete during my time there. Unfortunately, given the short duration of my placement, it would be impossible to complete them all; however, I feel that, upon leaving on my last afternoon, I had been able to tackle quite a few. Given that Luath Press is a relatively small publisher, I knew that I would probably get to dabble in different departments over the course of the week. Having focused on editorial during my time at Napier, I was quite nervous to jump into tasks relating to marketing and production such as creating AI sheets, press releases, press lists, posters, and marketing plans.
However, after a few hiccups I was thoroughly enjoying it; I noticed how learning by doing allowed for a speedy increase in my confidence and capabilities when using certain programs and constructing certain documents. It was especially great to realise you were immediately accepted as part of a team and entrusted with real, significant tasks instead of ‘practice’ tasks. It was obvious throughout the placement that the team were expert multi-taskers and communicated with one another effectively and efficiently.
I completely enjoyed the fact that you didn’t know what to expect every morning upon arriving in the attic (more than a little out of breath) – in one week alone I saw a journalist, three authors, countless delivery men, and many books pass through the door.
All in all, I am delighted to have completed my work placement at Luath Press and am especially grateful for the support and patience of its staff; I hope to cross paths with them again soon.