Cúirt International Festival of Literature

By Britt S Van Klaveren, on 15 April 2014

Last weekend, four students from the MA Publishing class visited the Cúirt International Festival of Literature in Galway, Ireland. Not only because of the many great authors that would be present, but also because one of the MA Publishing students, Philip Connor, had won the New Writers Prize in the fiction category! To read his brilliant story follow this link. Again, congratulations Philip!!

In addition to celebrating Philip’s success, we also visited two events. On Friday night we went to an event featuring Hollie McNish and Patrick DeWitt. I was unfamiliar with both authors, and after this event I fell a little bit in love with both of them. Smart, lovely, and incredibly funny they both caused the audience to cry with laughter. Especially a poem by Hollie McNish, ‘Mathematics’, stuck with me for the next couple of days, an honest and heartfelt poem on immigration. See the video below to hear the poem being read by Hollie McNish and experience it for yourself.

The next evening we went to see Eleanor Catton and Rachel Kushner. They both did a reading of their latest novels and were interviewed for an hour afterwards. Again – loved them. Having already seen Eleanor Catton at an Apple Store event shortly after she had won the Man Booker Prize 2013, we were familiar with her almost intimidating intelligence and charm, something that hadn’t changed in this interview. Picture this and add the witty Rachel Kushner – a formula for a brilliant event. Rachel Kushner’s reading intrigued me so much that I hurried to buy her book, ‘The Flamethrowers’, after the event, and was lucky enough to get her to sign my copy.

After these events we went to an after party where all the authors, book sellers, event organisers, and us as baby publishers/fan base wandered around. My first visit to Galway and the Cúirt Festival was a brilliant experience and I will definitely go back again.

Written by Britt van Klaveren

The Perfect Typeface

By Britt S Van Klaveren, on 24 March 2014

As future publishers, we are not only looking for great content, we also want things to look pretty… Here is a fun and handy guide to choosing the perfect typeface for any type of project, including books! Which fonts are your favourites?

Seen on Adobe InDesign’s Twitter page @InDesign on 24/03/2014.

Books Are My Bag – part 5

By Britt S Van Klaveren, on 16 March 2014

Bookshops Are My Bag
Written by Anneliese O’Malley

It was a pretty cushy assignment for the first week of UCL’s Publishing MA – to spend several hours observing and interviewing customers in independent bookshops. We got to know some booksellers, we got to know some readers, and both groups had interesting and complex views of the health and wellbeing of bookshops and print books.

My group’s experiences were marked by the fact that we visited specialist bookshops with a developed customer base. We began our day at French’s Theatre Bookshop, which not only sells books but also publishes scripts and sells rights to those putting on productions. Situated between RADA and the University for the Creative Arts, they are well-placed to take advantage of the local student population, and many of the customers we ran into were either current students or alumni. The shop also hosts a range of readings and events.

In terms of Books Are My Bag, posters and flyers were displayed prominently, but the shop had run out of bags days before our visit. The bags themselves had prompted a great deal of curiosity from customers, though many hadn’t heard of the campaign before visiting the shop. Of those we interviewed, all agreed that any campaign that supported independent retailers could only be a good thing.

This is where our day took a turn for the serendipitous. Roaming through Bloomsbury during the lunch break we assigned ourselves, we stumbled across a small bookshop flying the Books Are My Bag bunting proudly in their front window. We had found yet another specialist bookshop called Gay’s The Word, which has been serving the needs of the LGBTQ community since 1979. What quickly became clear was that this shop does more than just provide products; it also provides a safe space and a community for those who might struggle to find one elsewhere.

The member of staff who spoke to us gave the impression that the shop has been a lifeline in the past, and that it continues to be an important source of information. He was optimistic about the positive changes in recent years, that more and more young people feel comfortable seeking the shop out, and that they can bring their parents with them. To me this shop felt relevant and alive, with a steady flow of customers and plenty of conversation and recommendations flowing between customers and booksellers. The shop also hosts readings and has a weekly Lesbian Discussion Group, as well as having an active online presence. I’ve included a link to a youtube documentary about the shop that explains why it is so important to its community of sellers, authors, and customers:

Finally, it seems to me that independent bookshops need to know who their customers are and make the experience for them something that can’t be repeated by chains or online giants. This is what each of the bookshops we visited, in different ways and with differing levels of success, have managed to achieve.

Your next must-see museum: The Plantin Moretus Museum

By Britt S Van Klaveren, on 12 March 2014

Written by Meg Tobin-O’Drowsky

Ok, so the museum itself might be a bit of a trek (it being located in Antwerp), but believe me, it’s worth the trip. I recently visited the museum on a holiday that spanned four cities and what seems like hundreds of museums, but the Plantin Moretus Museum stood out miles beyond the rest.

The museum is located at Officina Plantiniana, which was both the home and the workshop of Christophe Plantin, and later the Moretus family, who inherited Officina Plantiniana from Christophe Plantin. The museum touts Plantin as the most important printer-publisher of humanism and the sciences in the second half of the 16th century and the first industrial printer in history. It houses a variety of old printing presses, including the two oldest working ones left in the world. It is a UNESCO world-heritage site not only because of the printing house and family residences, but because it holds so many company and family archives, which UNESCO’s Memory of the World considers to be an “integral part of European history.” (http://www.museumplantinmoretus.be/Museum_PlantinMoretus_EN/PlantinMoretusEN/PlantinMoretusEN-UNESCO.html)

When I walked into the first room, I was a little confused. The museum starts off in the residence’s salon, and is followed by other rooms containing original furniture. It was interesting and beautiful, but it was missing anything related to printing.

After taking in the beauty of the living spaces and bedrooms, a quick trip through the garden leads to the part of the museum that sprawls with publishing and printing paraphernalia. The museum is seemingly a massive collection of everything Plantin and the Moretuses ever touched.

Plantin ran a bookshop out of the front of the publishing house:


The bookshop / Type / Seven printing presses and workshop tables

The two oldest working printing presses in the world today

First Dutch dictionary, commissioned by Plantin in 1573 / The Gutenberg Room with the 36-line Bible (before 1461) / The first atlas, 1570

Discussing Plantin’s presence at the Frankfurt Book Fair in the 16th and 17th centuries.

As you can see, the museum is filled with type (many of it unopened and unused), libraries, books going back as far as the 1400s, printing presses, workshops, and so much more. It’s a veritable time capsule. Of course, I’m biased: being a publishing student made the Plantin Moretus Museum all the more interesting to me. But if you have any interest in the development of humanity, the dissemination of information, or the evolution of reading, writing, and printing, you will fall in love with the Plantin Moretus Museum, just as I did.

Books Are My Bag – Part 4

By Britt S Van Klaveren, on 10 March 2014

Another piece from the Books Are My Bag adventure! This blog is written by Naomi Barton

To read a book is to partake of a universe unknown.
Of course, you might have heard of said universe. You might have a picture of it, based on a fancy blurb. An excited tweet. Your favourite critic’s latest jibe.

But to actually sit down with the printed word flowing in front of your eye, is to live somebody else’s mind. It is not mere verbiage on a hunk of paper, not the three hours your eyes might take to scan it. It is most certainly not the ten or so pounds (Ten whole pounds! Gasp!) that you have exchanged for it.

To read is a ritual. An act of change, no matter how inconsequential. And all rituals must have a before, an after, and an in-between.

This in-between-ness is where your local bookshop plods in happily and sets up shop.

Stop staring and just walk in already. We promise not to bite. Unless we’re on Hagrid’s curriculum.

Stop staring and just walk in already. We promise not to bite. Unless we’re on Hagrid’s curriculum.

A tiny buzzer sounds as you cross the threshold of Victoria Park Books, subtly alerting its owner to your presence. It is muted, unintrusive. The door shuts behind you, and you take in the spill of light from the backyard, battered little child-sized beanbags on the warm wood floor, and the books.

Jo Guia, owner, will peer over her computer and gently ask you if you need any help. She knows children better than most, their desire for an original familiarity. Your child might be reading Maisie, but Jo will deftly take out a volume by someone you haven’t heard of yet. You should know without a doubt that your child will love it.

“Good on you for bringing them up right,” she says, modestly. “Not enough children read anymore.” To be on the safe side, she organizes book readings for infants and toddlers too.

Mommy, you need to accept my subversive understanding of the cultural ramifications inherent in gastronomy. Of course I like Green Eggs and Ham.

The store is designed for children more than their parents, despite who’s holding the purse strings. The books are shelved in a chronological flow, with picture books low on the ground and teen fiction high above, out of the grasp of curious fingers with too-tender minds. One solitary wall in a corner houses Adult Fiction, keeping parents occupied. Harvey the dog whimpers plaintively at you if denied a pat on the head.

I cat, therefore I am.

Every single element of this place says it is about you and what you are going to read, paying silent tribute to the ritual path you have just begun to tread.

This, is the core difference between Amazon and your local bookshop.

Amazon pays homage to the clean, jingling Cash Machine In The Sky, and good devout priests they are too. Books are their currency—as against Victoria Park Bookstore, saying loud and proud, that Books are My Bag. Books are you and me and the entire world bound by the genius of one mind reaching out to the fertile grounds of another, and books can be our everything.
But sometimes, everything isn’t enough.

The Wardrobe only took us to Narnia.

It’s not enough to close your eyes and clap your hands anymore.

Join the Books Are My Bag Campaign, and go buy something from your local bookstore. It’s worth the price.

Books Are My Bag – Part 3

By Britt S Van Klaveren, on 2 March 2014

After a busy week at UCL it is Sunday already, which means it is time for another Books Are My Bag blog! This week’s Books Are My Bag blog is written by Britt van Klaveren.

Last Friday all of the MA Publishing students at UCL participated in the Books Are My Bag campaign, a national campaign trying to raise awareness for the decline in bookshops and motivating people to support their local bookshops. We were sent to several bookshops, to have a look around and interview the customers present. Did they prefer physical books over digital books? Did they prefer to purchase books in a bookshop or online? How would they feel if bookshops would disappear? Three of us went to Newham Bookshop in East London and started interviewing customers after we had met the owner, a lady who was clearly very passionate about her trade. Initially, I found that a lot of the customers had the same problem I often have. They would answer my questions determinedly: “I prefer physical books, I hardly shop online in order to keep bookshops alive, and I would be very upset if bookshops were to disappear”, but if I asked why, they could not easily articulate an answer.

However, even though they could not articulate their feelings, it did show in other ways. For instance, all the customers that came in were local and had lots of stories to tell about the shop. They had been coming here for years and years. All customers liked to have a stroll around, not necessarily looking for a specific book, but just to see if there was anything in store that they liked. And almost all of the customers had a chat with the owner, whom they all seemed to know. Just being there for a few hours showed the strength of the local community bookshop and the emotional attachment these customers had with their bookshop. When I asked one of the bookshop employee’s about her customers, she replied that they were very loyal to them and would come here from generation to generation. She pointed at a little blue chair in the play material’s, and told me that one week earlier a woman had come in with her daughter and her granddaughter. The daughter used to visit the bookshop when she was little, until she moved away. When she walked into the shop, she saw the little blue chair and immediately started to cry. The bookshop had carried along so many good memories and now, coming in with her own daughter and seeing the chair she used to sit and read on, they all came back to her.

This anecdote genuinely touched me and I believe it really reached the core of the Books Are My Bag Campaign. As the campaign states, they are an awareness campaign, not a sales promotion: the aim is to bring across that people really do enjoy books more in a bookshop and engage with books more in bookshops than they do in online shops. In my opinion, anyone who tries to argue this point should simply be sent to Newham Bookshop – because that is exactly what they will experience there.

Written by Britt van Klaveren

Books Are My Bag – part 2

By Britt S Van Klaveren, on 23 February 2014

As promised, here is the second winning blog of the Books Are My Bag blog competition. This blog is written by Lillienne Zen.

Bookmark This

Socialist books, anti-Tory mugs and sherbet Lenin soap in the red-framed windows. Event posters next to the table of second-hand books for £1. The Bookmarks bookshop at 1 Bloomsbury Street calls itself a socialist bookshop—and lives up to it.

Two classmates and I were visiting Bookmarks as part of the Books Are My Bag campaign. Our MA Publishing programme at UCL had assigned a day for all of us to visit participating bookshops.

AKA: Best Field Trip Ever.

This visit was the first time I really considered about how bookshops shape themselves. Everything in Bookmarks is carefully placed, from the Malcolm X posters and the racks of political events and newspapers by the door to the metal signage with engraved red letters marking out available topics: Marxism, politics, economics, history, trade unions…

Even the children’s section had balloons and red star lights.

The bookshop was quiet—unsurprising, given that it was 11 am on Friday. The only two customers we talked to were regulars who’d taken time to be there… so when we asked them about their book-buying preferences, their answers were fairly predictable:

Yes, they support physical bookshops. Yes, they prefer to buy physical books over e-books (one elaborated that he can’t lend e-books but can p-books). They do, however, use Amazon on occasion—it’s really so convenient sometimes. But they try to buy from physical bookshops as much as possible.

I wondered why we had these questions on our assignment. Do we really expect anyone who doesn’t like physical books to be in a bookshop?

Not for the first time, I wondered how effective the Books Are My Bag campaign really is—and who it’s targeting.

Arguably, the people who go to bookshops are already the people who support bookshops. They don’t need to be convinced of the value of brick-and-mortar stores.

My brother, on the other hand, is as passionate about digital as I am about paper. He no longer sees the point of bookshops when Amazon provides the same product for cheaper and fully expects physical bookshops to disappear entirely.

My real question is: How do you get people like him who don’t care about bookshops to start going to and enjoying them again?

We asked Bookmarks’ bookseller some of our burning questions that accumulated through our observations: Who goes to Bookmarks? How much do they sell? How do they compete against Amazon?

Answers were heartening: demographics range from students to workers; only 2% of their sales are made of e-books with maybe 10-15% merchandise, while the rest of sales are books. They make huge efforts to liaise with relevant events, film screenings and trade meetings and to provide relevant books. Such efforts pay off: their mailing list is over 1000 subscribers, they have 4000-plus Twitter followers and almost 2000 on Facebook.

They are more than a specialist bookshop—they are a community. Perhaps that’s the clue to getting my brother back through the doors.

Written by Lillienne Zen

Places to go, things to see – more great events

By Britt S Van Klaveren, on 22 February 2014

Places to Go, Things to See
By Anami Kabir

Rock on Top of another Rock
Thursday, 7th March 2013 to Thursday, 6th March 2014

This is the first public sculpture by the Swiss artists Fischli/Weiss to be commissioned in the UK. Located near the entrance of the Serpentine Gallery, the two large rocks balance one on top of the other against the backdrop of Kensington Gardens.

The structure oscillates between stability and instability, construction and destruction. As the London weather is slightly improving, and before coursework deadlines loom to close in the horizon, an outdoor outing to see this magnificent work of art is definitely recommended.

For an online video of an interview of Peter Fischli by Hans Ulrich Obrist, check out: http://www.serpentinegalleries.org/exhibitions-events/fischli/weiss-rock-top-another-rock

Neil Gaiman: The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains
Illustrations by Eddie Campbell and music from FourPlay String Quartet
Synchronised Multimedia Storytelling
Friday, 4th – Saturday, 5th July 2014 / 19:30

There are so many Gaiman fans out there, but so little of Gaiman to go around (especially since he moved to the States—tragedy for us fans in the UK). However, there is always that special event that pops up and if you’re lucky enough to catch it — there is Gaiman!

In a revolutionary new concept of synchronised multimedia storytelling, Neil Gaiman will read aloud his story ‘The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains’ at the Barbican Hall this July. Illustrations are done by the renowned artist Eddie Campbell (From Hell) and FourPlay String Quartet has created an entirely new underscore to the story.

Headline Publishing Group shall publish a four-colour, enhanced edition of ‘The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains’ with Campbell’s illustrations on June 17th this year.

Don’t miss out on the exclusive reading by Gaiman at the Barbican Hall. Book your ticket for either Friday, 4th or Saturday, 5th July 2014 (19:30hrs). For booking and ticket price information: http://www.barbican.org.uk/music/event-detail.asp?ID=16044

Exclusive Festival Appearance – J.K. Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith, In Conversation with Val McDermid
Harrogate Crime-Writing Festival
Friday, 18th July 2014 (The Festival dates are 17-20 July 2014)

The moment we have all been waiting for… JK Rowling, under her famous (and much drama-ridden) pseudonym Robert Galbraith, has penned the sequel to Cuckoo’s Calling. The Silkworm is to be published by Little, Brown Book Group on June 24th this year. It stars Rowling/Galbraith’s private detective and war veteran Cormoran Strike, and his young assistant Robin Ellacott as they investigate the disappearance of the novelist Owen Quine.

Exciting news — Rowling will be on stage with the bestselling crime writer Val McDermid for a unique In Conversation event this July at the Harrogate Crime-Writing Festival! This special event will take place at 7.30pm on Friday, 18th of July 2014 at the Royal Hall in Harrogate.

The Festival dates are 17th-20th July and include the likes of Ann Cleeves, Sophie Hannah, Lynda LaPlante, Laura Lippman, Peter May, Denise Mina, Steve Mosby and SJ Watson. The festival invites you to “block out these dates and join us for one long criminally good weekend.”

Tickets go on sale Monday, 17th March 2014. For more information, visit: http://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/crime/ticketsaccomm/

Upcoming events in February and March!

By Britt S Van Klaveren, on 19 February 2014

Julianne Zhang selected some fabulous events that all of us book lovers will most definitely enjoy. Which event will you be visiting?

Quentin Blake, remembering “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

Sunday, 23rd February 2014

Quentin Blake is best known for illustrating Roald Dahl’s children’s books. 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, Roald Dahl’s story about Charlie Bucket, Willy Wonka and the devilish Oompa-Loompas. And who better than Sir Quentin Blake to lead the celebrations?

Sir Quentin will be drawing live on-stage, whilst recounting the characters and his recollections of working with Dahl.

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Southbank, London
Adults £12, Children £6, from southbankcentre.co.uk
+44 (0) 871 663 2500

For more information: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/sir-quentin-blake-79742

Comedy Café Theatre – Stand Up & Slam

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Stand Up & Slam!
Performance poetry: comedy’s boring cousin, right? Stand up: poetry’s idiot relation, yes? Let’s find out! Six phenomenal acts from the worlds of comedy and poetry go face-to-face for your approval in three killer rounds of Stand Up Comedy Vx Performance Poetry with unpredictable and hilarious results. The winners? Whoever the audience decide are really, truly the best art from of the night!

Tickets are £8

For more information and booking: http://bit.ly/standupandslam3

Byte the Book – Networking at the Club at the Ivy (March)

Monday, March 24, 2014
18:30 – 21:30

We’ll be at the lovely Club at the Ivy again. Ivy and Byte the Book members get in free, limited early bird tickets are available at £10 then rise to £15 (plus booking fee of aprox.£1.25) for everyone else. If you are keen to join Byte the Book please sign up here. Note cost of membership is currently £60.

Both Members and non-members, need to sign up for a ticket to reserve their place.

For more information & booking: http://www.bytethebook.com/events/byte-book-networking-club-ivy-march

Daunt Books Festival

Thursday, 27 March and Friday, 28 March 2014

An inaugural event will take place in 2014 organised by Daunt Books, one of London’s leading travel and literary bookshops. A delightfully potent line-up bodes well for this welcome initiative. This is a fine way to keep independent book shops front and centre.

Where? At Daunt Books, 83 Marylebone High St, London W1U 4QW

Full Programme: http://issuu.com/dauntbooks/docs/festival_programme_online__1_

Price: £5/event (inclusive of goodie bag/drink)

For more information and booking: http://www.dauntbooks.co.uk/daunt_book_festival.asp?TAG=&CID=

Bookshop on the River

Mon – Sat: 11:00 to 20:00
Sun: 12:00 to 18:00

Relax on comfortable sofas and enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine while you browse our carefully selected range of books, plays and gifts. We’ve limited edition prints from the best in contemporary design, gifts unique to the National Theatre and tables of books that we’re passionate about.

We serve wonderful Mozzo coffee, Hampstead teas and there’s an eclectic ‘bin-end’ wine list with great savings on wines from the National Theatre’s restaurants.

We’re easy to find – head for the National Theatre, look for the big red Shed, face the river and we’re on your right. We look forward to welcoming you.

Live Music on Thursdays!

Thursday 20 February: Andrew Page
A gifted guitarist and singer, Andrew has a large repertoire ranging from old school classics to more contemporary numbers.

Thursday 27 February: Django Unchained
A four piece jazz and blues band fronted by jazz vocalist Katherine-Ellen Kotz. Backed by guitar, trumpet and a range of percussion including spoons and a washboard, they bring a fresh approach to covers including ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ and ‘Hit the Road Jack’.

Thursday 6 March: Alfred Abel
Alfred Abel is the solo project of Northampton and London based singer-songwriter, musician and designer Sam Smith. His music is inspired by folk, blues and soul artists such as John Martyn, Bob Dylan and Harry Nilsson and covers include the likes of The Strokes and Oasis.

For more information: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/your-visit/food-and-drink/bookshop-on-the-river

The UCL Publishers’ Prize for Student Writing

By Britt S Van Klaveren, on 17 February 2014

Written by Gillian Fitzgerald-Kelly

The UCL Publishers’ Prize for Student Writing is a short story competition founded by ten members of the UCL MA in Publishing Studies. The Prize will be awarded to the best short story submission written by a student currently enrolled at UCL. Our Prize was launched on 3 February 2014, and the deadline for entry is 28 March 2014. The founders of this Prize are eager to uncover new and exciting writing talents within UCL. Our hope is to discover a talented young writer who we can go onto work with in the future. Our team members are wholly dedicated to this project and so excited to receive submissions. We are looking for excellent storytelling, and are thrilled to be a part of such an exciting Prize. The winning entries will be judged by a committee of future publishers, with input from guest judges currently working in the publishing industry and will be awarded a cash prize.

Follow us on Facebook, @uclpublishersprize and check out our website: www.uclpublishersprize.com