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FutureBook 2014 (Part 1)

Caroline AMurphy18 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!