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The Past, Present and Future of Book Publishing

A few days ago I was lucky enough to be invited to be a presenter at an ‘Authors Evening’ at the remarkable European School in Karlsruhe in Germany. The educational system abroad can be jarring in comparison to schools in the United States. Education in the States can be accused of having a more lax approach in standard and practice. Take for example the wide range of options available and even accredited college programs online, perhaps an oxymoron. So imagine my surprise when at the school I discover they teach children in five different languages

I’d been invited as two of the speakers are authors with us – Paul Spiring and Hugh Cooke who between them have published nine books with us. They are listed below. Introduced by the head of the school who in previous jobs had been both a printer and run a bookshop, the evening was a fascinating mix. Paul talked about his writings on Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes [there were several senior Sherlockians in the audience] and Hugh described himself as the ‘comic turn’, reading and performing several excerpts from his Panto For Beginners book. The other authors covered a German language novel and academic writings on ancient Italy. The combination of serious subjects with lighter elements throughout [accompanied by cheese and wine] went down very well with the 70+ attendees and has already got glowing reviews from the local press.

For the subject of the Past, Present and Future of Book Publishing I began by outlining how in the last few years the publishing world has changed beyond recognition. I then covered the product itself (books to eBooks), to the retail landscape (online, supermarkets), the publishers themselves and then through to some of the technology and exciting evolution in marketing with the arrival of social media. There are several author case studies featured as well.

The slides are available here through Slideshare.

Book Publishing Past, Present and Future

Book Publishing Past, Present and Future

Books featured on the authors evening from Paul and Hugh:

Bertram Fletcher Robinson (a biography)

Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle and Devon (biography and travel guide)

Pantomime for Beginners

Rugby Football During the Nineteenth Century

Aside Arthur Conan Doyle (twenty stories by Bertram Fletcher Robinson)

On The Trail of Arthur Conan Doyle (Spanish version)

Wheels of Anarchy (reprint of the original from 1900s by Max Pemberton)

Bobbles and Plum (the lost playlets of PG Wodehouse)

The World of Vanity Fair (colour caricatures from Victorian England)

Case Studies:

Bangers and Mash (battling throat cancer using NLP by Keith Hern)

Watson’s Afghan Adventure (Sherlock Holmes pastiche fiction by Kieran McMullen)

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2011 in Book Publishing

 

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Publishing In a Digital World

With our feature in the Sunday Times a few weeks ago we have been approached by several would-be publishers and have consequently put together a simple consultancy package in 4 hour sessions that goes through all you need to become a book publisher in the new digital world. It’s been a fascinating process as it has reminded me of the bumps along the road in setting up the publishing company. It’s also prompted me to start the long overdue process of the publishing blog.

It’s three years down the line and we now have over 50 titles with around 30 authors. I look back and I wish I had had access to a mentor to explain this new world and the landscape that stretches from self-publishing at the one end and the major publishing houses at the other end. We are working now with our second ‘new publisher’ Matthew (Murielle Maupoint was the first and her debut title came out a few weeks ago) and have one session a week covering everything from distribution to setup, marketing to dealing with authors. Matthew commented that he learnt more in the first hour than he had gleaned from a couple of months of web research.

A few of my friends have commented on the logic of tutoring new publishers that are essentially entering our market of ‘partnership publishing’ but let me share a few revelations. Firslty the process of re-examining ones own business and putting down in writing the steps you would have done, had you know them, if you were starting again from scratch is actually an excellent experience. I’m able to sit down with my fellow directors and show the end-to-end of the business which until then was largely inside my head.

Secondly, its a brilliant form of networking. I feel I have made an excellent contact in Murielle and intend to keep in touch and be at the end of the phone as her business grows and I am getting the same feeling from Matthew too. Murielle has already referred business my way and in consultancy session 1 Matthew gave me some great ideas that I will be following up on too. Finally, an probably most importantly I am thoroughly enjoying it.

It’s a big market out there and there is space for thousands of partnership publishers – a learning from the process for me has been the need to begin to specialise when you reach a certain size – we will focus on NLP and therapy, Victorian Literature and ’cause based’ books (like Environmental) as the book sales do start to feed off each other.

So if there are any more would be publishers out there that want to accelerate their start and avoid the pitfalls we identified then we’d be delighted to hear from you. It’s not quite ‘digital publishing company in a box’ but pretty close.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2009 in Publishing

 

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