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    Celebrities Use Pink Post-it Notes Too! – Russell Brand at The Reading Agency

    By Caroline A Murphy, on 26 November 2014

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    Photo courtesy of Amy Davies

    By Caitlin Mehta (@CaitlinMehta)

    Every now and then when reading a book I’ll struggle to find a book mark. While I used to use the (barbaric) method of folding down the corner when I was young and foolish, the older and more considerate me now opts for old train tickets, receipts (for food most likely) and occasionally the odd post-it note. This may seem completely unrelated to the fact that a few of my course mates and I went to hear Russell Brand give The Reading Agency’s annual lecture, but bear with me!

    I wasn’t sure what to expect from this evening: was it going to be a serious affair? How could it be with Russell Brand as the guest speaker? Would he focus on books? What’s his favourite book? Would he talk about political affairs? Would it just be about reading? I should have already been able to answer a lot of these questions based on my knowledge of him. It’s funny that feeling of familiarity we get when thinking of celebrities we’ve actually never met. Having grown up hearing about this man constantly in the news and seeing him prance around in an (admittedly) hypnotic manner on my television screen I should have known.

    It wasn’t all jokes but at the same time it wasn’t deadly serious or even the ‘b word’ (boring) either. There is something about Russell Brand when he gets going on a good rant that you just can’t ignore. Perhaps it’s the purposefully intricate vocabulary he utilises that you may not have previously understood, but do now however due to the context and manner in which he so eloquently weaves it into his speech (that was a pretty good attempt at his style of speaking, right?).

    The narrative theme of Russell’s lecture (a title I would use very loosely), was to explain what reading meant to him as he read extracts from books gifted to him by family, fans and other famous people. One particular highlight was his rendition of an early chapter of Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. Before mocking the crude seeming, old-fashioned names ‘Dick’ and ‘Fanny’ in typical Russell style (there I go pretending I know him personally again), he went on to explain to the audience that this book, bestowed upon him by Auntie Pat, showed him that books could open portals to other worlds. This is a notion that I feel some adults forget as life gets in the way of reading for pleasure.

    Whilst reading from these books I suddenly noticed that curiously, much like myself, Russell Brand also seemed not to be in possession of a real bookmark. Sure enough as the comedian worked his way through the hefty stack of books he brought on stage it appeared that in each one he had marked his place with a bright pink post-it note. One of these even got stuck to his trousers much to my amusement.

    I realise this was not the main message to take away from the evening. Books really are fantastic; libraries are too. That was the eventual point of the long-winded lecture. However to me, the makeshift post-it bookmarks were a sharp reminder that yes he is a “celebrity” but still  a human being not so far flung from myself. A human being with flairs and flaws who likes to read stories both factual and fictional as a means of escapism. It is stories, as Muriel Ruysker was quoted as saying, that make up the universe.

    That and funny men with long hair and pink post-its stuck to their legs!

     

    Check out Caitlin’s blog at www.caitlinlouisemehta.wordpress.com

    FutureBook 2014 (part 2)

    By Caroline A Murphy, on 19 November 2014

    Here’s some key information taken from the FutureBook conference 2014 by Rachel Mazza (@mazzie191)

    Sidebar #1 A few figures from the presentations…

    1. The biggest growth in ebooks, predicted by Nielsen global survey trends, is in nonfiction and children’s
    2. According to the same survey, fiction ebook sales are plateauing
    3. Between the US and UK, 30% of publishing is English language based
    4. A growing number of younger people (16-24 age group) are now purchasing ebooks
    5. However age 45+ is still reading the most ebooks
    6. More males are also starting to purchase ebooks
    7. 27% of UK consumers buy both ebook and print

    Sidebar #2 Unbound

    The company Unbound is doing something interesting. Co-founder and CEO Dan Kieran explained that Unbound puts the power into the hands of readers via crowdfunding an author. Once the goal is met, the author will write the book and once completed it will be published by Unbound in ebook or for print-on-demand. This idea is fascinating because it allows authors to know if there will be interest in a book before time is spent on it and they can see exactly how large their audience is. However, can Unbound provide the visibility for the author and longevity for their work that traditional publishing can? I regret not having the opportunity to ask if any publishing houses have contracted any of the authors whose works were funding through to publication. It’s definitely something to check out: http://unbound.co.uk

    Sidebar #3 Publishing subscription model

    There seemed to be some disagreement between the speakers as to whether or not subscription was something consumers were interested in.

    Senior Publicity and Digital Campaigns Manager of Headline Ben Willis believes subscriptions are a great business decision. Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin isn’t convinced subscription is what consumers are after since many do not re-read.

    For further info on the matter: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/tom-weldon-book-readers-don’t-want-subscription

    Sidebar #4 Hack Pitches and Big Ideas sessions

    Companies and creative individuals had the opportunity to share their plans for innovating the publishing world.

    -The winner of the Hack Pitch was “Voice” – an organization that developed an X Factor style contest with the winner receiving a contract to read for an audiobook. Contestants submit clips of themselves reading selected passages and people can vote on whose voice they enjoy listening to the most.

    Some people to follow on the good ‘ol Twitter:

    @marissa_hussey (Marissa Hussey—Digital Marketing Director at Orion)

    @booksandquills (Sanne Vliengenthart—Digial Coordinator Hot Key Books)

    @dan_kieran (Dan Kieran—CEO of Unbound)

    @BenWillisUK (Ben Willis—Senior Publicity and Digital Campaigns Manager of Headline)

     

    For more highlights check out #FutureBook14, if you haven’t already.

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    Tweet of the Week [returns...]

    By Lucy Broughton, on 19 November 2014

    Okay, so we may have a got a bit behind with our Tweet of the Week posts… but we’re back!

    This weeks tweet celebrates our successful bake sale for Children in Need! Not bad for one hour on a rainy day… Well done everyone!

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    FutureBook 2014 (Part 1)

    By Caroline A Murphy, on 18 November 2014

    By Rachel Mazza (@mazzie191)

    futurebookAbility to fervently Tweet and absorb information about the publishing industry at the same time during the FutureBook conference…Skill for the CV?

    Yes, actually! According to nearly every speaker at the 2014 FutureBook conference, skills like managing social media and carefully selecting what content is passed on to consumers are what “new voices” in publishing are doing…so its good to know my drained phone battery, from all the live Tweeting, served me well.

    What else are publishers looking for? Well Marissa Hussey, Digital Marketing Director at Orion, told a room full of them what publishers should be looking for. Since we all need jobs, I bet you are interested in the scoop on this as well…

    Got skills?

    – Tech savvy

    – Adaptable

    – Emerged in social media

    – Innovative

    – Creative

    – Willing

    – Analytical

    – Logical

    – Resourceful

    And above all else, Hussey said she looked for curiosity in applicants.

    Keynote speaker George Berkowski, author of “How to Build Billion Dollar Apps”, touched upon this subject as well when he said the “smart creative” type would be well suited to the publishing industry. This means that publishing would benefit from engaging with people from computer science and engineering fields.

    That led me to wonder if tech skills should be something we students are learning before we go into the workforce. Right now, we aren’t expected to know how to code or create an app, but wouldn’t it be great if we did? From the sounds of things, tech knowledge in publishing will be required in the near future.

    Digital content isn’t going anywhere, so the more we know about it, the better. Knowing what to do with digital was another hot topic. Apparently there is no one right answer. As Carla Buzasi, Global Chief Content Officer of WGSN, said “people consume media in different ways on different devices”. Its true, I think publishers needs to be all over as many devices and platforms as possible. However, it should be done in an organized and focused a way that creates cohesion among any digital media they produce in order to establish a meaningful online presence consumers and authors can depend on.

    Buzasi, among others, stressed the importance of discovering ways to make authors part of the key process of publication. She said it is not enough to simply tell them to Tweet or manage a blog. The publisher must provide support to authors on digital matters.

    But again, to offer that support, publishers must understand digital media themselves and how to effectively use it. This brings us to the next panel I attended, entitled: What is the long-term role of social media in publishing?

    Sanne Vliengenthart, Digital Coordinator at Hot Key Books and BookTuber, said it is important to find someone who knows the platform. The main idea amongst the three speakers was that having focused and consistent content that promoted community provided the best results. In her videos, Vliengenthart provides insight into the publishing process and talks about the thing that bring publishers and readers together: the love of books. At the end of the day, passion and dedication to books is what draws us all in, but we must be prepared for the rapidly changing, ever evolving business side of things as well.

    Overall FutureBook was exciting. The upfront, honest and often humorous approach most speakers brought to their topics kept things fresh and fascinating…a day well spent!

    P.S The biscuits served for tea were extra fabulous. I continue to be impressed by dedication to delicious sweets in this industry.

    PSS. Check out Thug Notes on YouTube: http://thug-notes.com

    Stay tuned for part two tomorrow evening, when Rachel relays some more key highlights from the FutureBook conference, including useful Twitter users to follow!

    Insight into Publishing Event at Hachette

    By Sam Bradbury, on 17 November 2014

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    On the 4 November, Veronica Morgan and I were lucky enough to be selected to attend the Insight into publishing event run by Hachette Careers. It was the second such event run by Hachette and both have been hugely successful. The events are designed, as the name suggests, to give people who are considering working the publishing industry more information and an idea about what working in the industry entails. Since the first event, 2 people who attended now have jobs at Hachette and more have undertaken work experience so attending the event is a huge opportunity for prospective publishers. From the point of view of an MA publishing student, it was great to see how much we have learned and to meet so many industry professionals.

     

    After arriving at the beautiful building Hachette calls home and admiring the views from the 14th floor, we sat down and opened our goody bags and our minds. The first panel was ‘The life of the Book’, chaired by Martin Neild. We heard from representatives from many different departments, including editorial, marketing, production, rights and sales which showed the attendees that publishing is not all about editorial. Every department deals with books and they are all exciting!

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    View from the 14th floor

    After the panel, we got a chance to network with the speakers at lunch. This is one thing that has been highlighted over and over again as I learn more about publishing – networking and personal relationships are very important in publishing. It is also an extremely friendly, open and passionate environment – so don’t be scared. After lunch, we heard from new and up and coming departments – digital and consumer insight. It was fascinating and exciting to hear how to the industry is evolving.

    Next, there was a panel of recent employees who got their positions through various means, including work experience and our course. It was great to see people, just a few years ahead of us who are working in the industry and obviously enthusiastic about their jobs!

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    Skills that are useful for publishers

     

    Lots of tweeting went on during the event and if you don’t have twitter already then it’s a great place to learn about the industry and keep up to date with publishing news. If you’re interested in reading more about the event, check out #InsightintoPublishing. The whole event was also live-tweeted by @jobsinbooks. If you still haven’t heard enough – keep your eye on Hachette careers, it would be a shame if they didn’t run the event again.