Placements, Book Fair and World Book Night

By Laura A Lacey, on 27 April 2013

It’s been a busy few weeks for us UCL publishers. We’ve been on work placements, essay-writing, job hunting, dissertation planning, World Book Night celebrating and London Book Fair-ing.

 

Most of us are in the middle of our 5 week industry placements. So we are in publishing houses across the capital, with a couple further afield: everywhere from Penguin to Bloomsbury, and literary agencies to digital publishers. A lot of us have also been given the chance to work in different departments, including editorial, marketing, publicity, sales and production. We’ve been getting a taste of what it’s like to work in a real life publishing house and putting into practise all the skills we’ve been learning in the past months, as well as learning some new ones.

 

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15th-17th April was The London Book Fair, which many of us were attending for the first time. It was certainly a unique experience! Some students were there as representatives of their work placement companies but we all got time to wander around in awe and soak up the atmosphere. Some of the seminars were particularly interesting, including SYPs ‘How to Get Into Publishing’ where our very own Samantha Rayner was a speaker and some of our class were involved in the organisation. I’d like to say a big thank you to all the publishers, agents, printers, authors, speakers and organisers who made us feel so welcome and put up with our questioning when they almost certainly had better things to do.

And lastly, a belated Happy World Book Night for Tuesday. A couple of our students were givers for the event this year, handing out 20 copies of one of their favourite books. Congratulations to Julia Kingsford for making the event run so smoothly and thanks again for the inspiring lecture she gave us a couple of months ago. Long may WBN continue!

Read all the books you wish you’d read…

By Laura A Lacey, on 29 March 2013

Oyster last year announced they had raised $3million to create a service for eBooks that works along similar lines to Spotify. They seek to oystercollectively license eBooks from publishers: including fiction and non-fiction, and everything from bestsellers to classics.

Oyster have partnered with media and technology companies, as well as publishers. This mirrors the growing trend across the creative industries as owners of intellectual property seek to exploit their copyright in all possible formats, and sellers try to provide services above and beyond simple content delivery.

The trendy-looking New York-based team (pictured) are focusing on Access, Discovery and Mobile:

ACCESS: By adopting a subscription model they believe readers will be able to enjoy books more freely, dipping in and out of new authors without investing money: ‘This leads to a more fulfilling experience built exclusively on taste and relaxed reading’.

DISCOVERY: They realise that discoverability comes down to many factors and a lot of chance. They believe by combining ‘discovery with consumption’ they are removing frustration that comes from receiving recommendations in many locations.Readers will enjoy the process of discovery by sharing the same library with their friends, with no need to hunt for links.

MOBILE: Their claims as far as mobile goes are perhaps less easy to agree with: they claim their market research has shown that all readers (from avid to casual) ‘love reading on smartphones’. This has certainly has not been my experience. Perhaps it will be in future – as mobile devices become larger and more comfortable to read on it is thought ‘phablets’ will be one of the most prolific devices for sale.

Only time will tell if their venture will be successful and how many publishers will be willing to give up their content for a limited fee. Currently it is in testing mode with just a few. Their aspirational aims certainly sound idyllic:

“We are building Oyster for an audience that aspires to read more. Read all the books you wish you’d read. We hope to bring books to the center of people’s lives through a beautiful product and the feeling that the world is your oyster.”

An Appreciation for Indexing

By Laura A Lacey, on 22 January 2013

By Stacey Riley, an Aspiring Agent

Did you assume that indexes were computer generated? Me too!

This week the UCL MA Publishing class was given a talk by guest speaker Ann Kingdom from the Society of Indexers. She delivered an interesting and detailed presentation on how an index and indexers work.

Indexing is one of the final stages of the production process and indexers are often squeezed for time, having to produce their work under pressure. Ann defines an index as being ‘a structured sequence – resulting from a thorough and complete analysis of text – of synthesised access points to all the information contained in the text.’ It is this ‘thorough and complete analysis of the text’ t
Ideally, an indexer should be familiar with the subject of the book he or she is working on. Indexers often have high academic qualifications or industry experience in the specialised area. They are required to read the text and, using their skills and knowledge, decide what to index and what terms to use. Unlike a full-text search, which retrieves too much information, an index tells you the most important references and indicates which aspect of the topic is dealt with. Indexers also bring together synonyms and metonyms used in the text.hat requires human intellect and decision making that a computer isn’t (yet?) capable of.

The decisions made by the indexer have to fulfil users’ needs. For example, they might have to consider which is more user friendly: ‘strings’ or subheadings.

Clegg, Nick 110–112, 115–116, 120–125, 126, 135–144, 150, 152, 159, 165–172, 187

or

Clegg, NickSociety of Indexers: Information from A to Z education 110–112, 115–116
family background 120–125, 152
language skills 126, 150
as MEP 135–139
as MP 140–144
as party leader 165–172, 187
television appearances 140, 159, 166, 171

They may also be required to edit their index, whether this is because of limited page allowance for the index specified by the publisher, or because the index is not as efficient as it could be. The above entry, for example, could be edited to combine subheadings as below:

Clegg, Nick
education 110–12, 115–16
family background 120–5, 152
language skills 126, 150
political career 135–44, 165–72, 187
TV appearances 140, 159, 166, 171

Ann also gave out some examples of ‘how not to do an index’. This included one that was simply an alphabetical list of every recipe that appeared in a soup cookbook – and, as a result, wasn’t very useful. If you had a particular ingredient you wanted to use, you would have to read through the entire list to see which soups contained that ingredient.

Additionally, Ann also mentioned the occurrence of circular referencing in some indexes. For example:

Geese, wild see wild geese
Wild geese see geese, wild

This too is of no use to the user, apart from creating a bit of humour!

For more information, see the Society of Indexers’ website and The Indexer: The international Journal of Indexing