Author Archives: Karine Nicpon

About Karine Nicpon

After completing her MA in Publishing and an extensive intern experience in trade publishing, Karine spent a few years as an Editorial and Legal Assistant at Editions Points in Paris. She was also in charge of the editorial committee and of all the negotiations with foreign publishers and agents. Thanks to this previous experience, she has a solid knowledge of the publishing industry and understands the needs of both clients and candidates. Karine joined Atwood Tate in September 2013 and looks after Editorial (Business Information, STM and Societies), Production, Production Editorial, Design, Digital and Operations (from graduates to mid-management) in London, the Home Counties and East Anglia.

BIC Seminar: New Trends in Publishing (part 2)

As promised last week, we’ll focus this time on the impact that New Trends in Publishing (#bicnewtrends @BIC1UK)  can have on production departments and suppliers such as printers. Mike Levaggi is Group Production Director at HarperCollins and he came to the BIC Seminar to tell us a bit more about the digital print revolution.

Publishing is changing, I think we’re all aware of that. There is an increasing number of titles and a decreasing run length: publishers tend to print short runs to adapt to their business model.

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© Mike Levaggi & HarperCollins

E-books and e-readers create extensive back lists and encourage print on demand. In this context, digital print is growing rapidly and is replacing offset printing. Print on demand requires publishers to move fast: you don’t print a book unless there is an order for it (“book of one”, down to one copy). The same way short print runs have increased changeover time and put pressure on conventional printing. Print runs are getting shorter and smaller orders are driving administrative issues for both printer and publisher which changes the workflows in production departments.

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© Mike Levaggi & HarperCollins

To face these changes, printers and manufacturers are tooling up, investing in a range of digital technologies to be able to print faster and shorter at a better cost. Inkjet quality is improving, as well as costs. Equipment suppliers work on higher resolution.

Digital printing is a lot faster, it increases flexibility and minimises turnaround times. Digital accelerates cash-flows.

© Mike Levaggi & HarperCollins

© Mike Levaggi & HarperCollins

What’s next? Mike has been talking to a lot of publishing professionals, printers and suppliers and according to them, the industry is facing the biggest change since print moved from film to computer. The technology will continue to improve, driving cost and quality benefits. More titles will be kept available without increasing inventory. Workflows will develop rapidly in all parts of the supply chain. And the pace of change is going to be increased.

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BIC Seminar: New Trends in Publishing

I was very pleased to attend the BIC Seminar about New Trends in Publishing last Wednesday (#bicnewtrends @BIC1UK). We were invited in the very impressive Stationers’ Hall to hear all about the latest trends in publishing and what we can expect for the future.

Chris McCrudden (Head of Technology and New Media at Midas PR) and Jane Tappuni (Executive Vice President of Business Development at Publishing Technology) got the ball rolling, revealing the 5 top trends in trade publishing nowadays.

The first one is “Direct to Consumer Publishing”: to grow publishers’ need to understand and find out who their customers are. All publishers know how to cultivate their B2C relationships. A good example of this is what HarperCollins did with their virtual Romance festival last year. This was a clever way to develop their relationship marketing and to build their community activity. Publishers also focus on creating buying opportunities (D2C ecommerce) and leveraging their brand offer (memberships).

The second top trend is “Mobile reading”: 14 million Kindles and 2.5 billion mobile reading devices were sold in 2015. Are people reading on their mobile phone? Yes, they are!

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Phones are getting bigger and bigger and reading on a mobile is getting more and more comfortable.

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There are now publishers creating specific content for mobile reading.

The third top trend in Trade publishing is “The Power of Fandom”. If you haven’t heard of it yet (where were you?), fandom is basically people creating content on fan fiction websites. I can hear you say “Why should we take this seriously?” As Chris and Jane pointed out, millions of people create and consume fan fiction. Wattpad, a host for fan fiction content, counts 40 million users! And when fan fiction hits the mainstream it goes big! The best example of that is Fifty Shades of Grey. It started life as a piece of Twilight fan fiction and we know what happened next…

The fourth trend is “Growing pains for eBook subscription”. Chris and Jane revealed that if the book subscription services have grown they haven’t grown quickly enough. Most of the members consume a lot of books and this doesn’t generate a lot of money.

The last top trend fiction is “Content as Marketing”: authors have been creating content that brands would pay for: Jonathan Safran Foer and Toni Morrison wrote original content for coffee cups:

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These are the 5 top trends in trade publishing according to Chris and Jane. It is quite fascinating to see how the industry evolves and we’ll see in the part 2 of this blogs how this evolution impacts other parts of the business such as printers.

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BookMachine: Transferable Skills in Creative Industries

Alison and I went to the BookMachine event a couple of weeks ago which was sponsored by The Publishers Association. The talk was about Transferable skills in creative industries. We were particularly excited to listen to what our former colleague Stephanie Hall, who is now Resourcing Manager at HarperCollins, had to say! And what the audience heard that night is that you have to be adaptable if you want to work in publishing nowadays.

At HarperCollins, they have been looking for candidates outside of the industry and trying to bring in people from a diverse range of industries: finance, creative start-ups, academia, etc. The challenge is to make sure that these new recruits integrate smoothly into the industry and work well alongside publishing people. Soft skills are very important in this context: they need to make sure everybody is comfortable working with each other.

Stef also mentioned the notion of being a “digital native”, that is being able to integrate digital into your role. So they are looking to upskill publishing people already working for them, to develop their careers. As an employer, to keep people growing, they provide personality profile evaluation, training in their fields to be a trainer, so they can distribute their knowledge to the rest of the company through workshops.

But to future proof your career, you have to be flexible and adaptable. Learn to adapt to not be left behind. Try not to be too niche at what you do or you might end up in a corner. At HarperCollins, they encourage people to think outside the box and not only think of what their team does. You just have to be open to something else, to be adaptable.

Jon Ingold, Creative Director at inkle, couldn’t agree more. Inkle is a start-up created in 2011 by two game developers with a passion for storytelling and beautiful design. They are not a publisher but they borrowed the publishing model for the games market.

Jon insisted on the importance of communication: as an Editor, he takes other people’s writing, so has to be a very good communicator to manage deadlines and sensitivity of writers. He uses his transferrable skills from teaching (he was a teacher before) to bring people together and make them collaborate. As the Creative Director of a small company, Jon finds it difficult to hire because they can’t hire specialists, there wouldn’t be enough work. The candidates they are looking for have to have more than three skills. They get approached by “idea people” all the time but  what they need is people who can execute these ideas. Being able to multi-task is important. You can learn as you go but you have to be competent.

Someone in the audience asked how you can stand out when you’re a graduate?

Jon: “Make stuff. People who have an idea but are too lazy to make it their own project are not going to succeed. Finishing things is the key.”

Stef: “Learn from others about things you don’t know. Don’t be niche and become an expert about a lot of things.”

Jon: “Which doesn’t mean developing things you’re bad at. If you’re not good at it, don’t do it. But learn from others to broaden yours existing skills.”

These were the watchwords of that night: be curious, try, learn, adapt.

Bookmachine2

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The FutureBook Conference (part two)

The afternoon at the FutureBook conference was as busy and inspiring as the morning. After lunch, I decided to learn a bit more about “the long-term role of social media in publishing”. The amazing Rachel Fershleiser (Director of Publisher Outreach at Tumblr) told us everything we needed to know about Tumblr. Publishers often underestimate the potential of Tumblr where there is an incredible community of readers sharing their thoughts about their favourite books. Tumblr users react to art by creating their own content. Publishers have to be aware that their audience now have an audience too. And again, Rachel agreed with the idea that digital and social media gives you the opportunity to publish more specific content as you can get straight to your readers.

David Ripert (Head of YouTube spaces EMEA at Google/YouTube) gave another example of how book fans can turn into real promotion executives! Have you ever heard about BookTubers? (part of the audience had, I must say I hadn’t). It’s basically book fans like Sanne Vliengenthart who own their own YouTube channel and use it to talk about books. It is entertaining and educational and has become very popular in the last few years. BookTubers now have over 26 million views and 426k subscribers. Why so popular? Because it’s accessible and shareable.

Joe Cohen (CEO at Movellas) actually goes further with Movellas, a community site where you can publish your own stories – or movellas as they like to call them and your audience is actually a source of content. They think of themselves as the home of the fan girl!

I spent the rest of the afternoon finding out about what’s happening in the digital sphere today and hearing about predicted trends for tomorrow. FutureBook was provocative, informative and overall a great day.  I don’t think anybody that attended could deny the importance of digital and social media in the world today and its relevance to the publishing industry.

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The FutureBook Conference (part one)

Last Friday was my first time at the FutureBook Conference. I was promised a lot of fun and interesting talks and wasn’t disappointed. It was a dismal morning and we all arrived at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre under battling rain. In contrast, the atmosphere once we got inside was full of excitement and the audience was captivated by the three key note speakers. While George Berkovski (How to build a billion dollar app – see our blog) advised publishing professionals to learn from million dollar start-ups and start using Google Analytics a bit more, Carla Buzasi (Global Chief Content Officer at WGSN) urged companies to take digital risks. The digital community is forgiving as long as the content you publish is good. Tom Weldon (CEO Penguin Random House UK) confirmed PRH will not turn into a retailer: “If Google, Tesco & Sainsbury’s can’t do it, we can’t either”. But trade publishing is the only industry that has entered digital and not shrunk, according to him. Weldon presented PRH as having a strong digital strategy with a focus on children’s books and how to adapt children’s products (he then rewarded us with a little trailer which prompted some oohing and aahing from the audience).

The tone was set! The whole day was packed with talks from innovative, provocative and visionary speakers. I had a difficult decision choosing which sessions to attend next, but I decided to start with “How does digital impact the editorial process?”

For Kimberley Young, Head of Women’s fiction at HarperCollins, publishing has always been challenged and the biggest change that digital has brought is transparency. Social media is an incredible tool to facilitate our understanding of what consumers want and to find new talent. Digital media allows publishers to be more reactive and dynamic and to jump into the market within a day instead of waiting months for a book to be printed.

Kimberley’s point was very well illustrated by Darren Nash, Digital Publisher at Gollancz, who convinced us that digital has colonised the editorial process. You can now publish a digital edition of a book in less than 45 hours to beat a TV show (e.g. The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers was published by Gollancz to coincide with the airing of the True Detective’s pilot, the series inspired by the book). Darren also introduced another very important idea: people will pay for digital if you can add value.

Ruth Madder Head of Dictionaries Publishing at OUP also agreed with Kimberley Young. Digital allows publishers to be closer to users and to see how content is used and to learn from that.

In the end, all the speakers agreed that digital narrowed the gap between publishers and readers and increased the reactivity of the former to match their consumers’ expectations. As Nathan Hull (Digital product Development Director at Penguin Random House) said, “we just need to get better at being brave and bold and imaginative”.

The second morning session I attended, “Who should you hire and how will they change your company”, was crucial for me as a publishing recruitment consultant. As Ben Willis from Headline rightly noted, it is a very difficult question in an industry of constant change! It’s all about being agile and adaptable. Sanne Vliengenthart, Digital Coordinator at Hot Key Books, is a perfect example of how social media allows you to reach people (potential readers or a potential employee) as she was an active BookTuber (read our second FutureBook blog post to find out what a BookTuber is!) before becoming a publishing professional.

Marissa Hussey from Orion had a very good point when she asserted that digital is not an advanced form of traditional publishing roles. Publishers need to hire people who are creative, willing, analytical, logical, resourceful and most of all curious. People who can understand digital technology and extend their personality online. But it is also very important that publishers understand how to keep their staff, starting with a decent salary, said Crystal Mahey Morgan, Freelance Digital Marketer who got a round of applause for that!

It was a busy morning! Watch this space for the second part of our FutureBook blog.

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Consultant in the Hot Seat – Karine Nicpon

Karine photo

Which literary figure would you be?
George (Georgina) from ‘The Famous Five’ series by Enid Blyton. She was my favourite character when I was a little girl because I was just like her, a bit of a tomboy and delighted every time someone mistook me for a boy! She is clever, brave and loyal with quite a hot temper. And she gets to live so many adventures and solve mysteries all the time. What a perfect childhood!

If you were given the chance to have one superpower from any book/comic character, what would you have?
Telekinesis, definitely! First because I’m terribly lazy. Then isn’t it the coolest superpower ever? Add telepathy to that, and I would make a much funnier Jean Grey! I wouldn’t die so many times to start with and I would probably dump Scott/Cyclops and his eye problem for Logan/Wolverine!

What book are you reading at the moment and what do you think of it?
I just finished Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. I saw the movie a few years ago and was already impressed by the desire for freedom expressed by the main character Holly Golightly. The book is so much more complex though. It is not only about freedom, it’s more about finding who she is and where she belongs. Holly Golightly is an incredibly modern character. Of course we can always find a way to identify ourselves with a character. But it is not surprising I guess if I was touched by this story when a year and a half ago I moved to England, looking for the same freedom and adventure as Holly (except that my idea of freedom is not a rich husband!). Capote’s writing is stunning too. I’ve never set a foot in New York and yet I could smell the heavy rainy afternoons of a late summer and the choking heat of the city. Completely fascinating!

What have been the highlights of the past year?
Moving to London! And getting this position at Atwood Tate. That was two massive changes in my life and I’m so glad I made the move.

Who would you invite to your fantasy literary dinner party?
Oscar Wilde, because apart from being the great author we all know, I imagine him as being the perfect guest: clever, funny, elegant, irreverent and decadent.

Miss Marple. I love old people, they always have a lot of interesting stories to tell. And she could find out all about the little secrets of the other guests. AND she could be extremely useful if someone gets killed (in the library with the candlestick).

Simone de Beauvoir, one of the greatest French thinkers, writers and philosophers of the 20th century. She did a lot for contemporary feminism and had quite an extraordinary life. Such an inspiration!

F. S. Fitzgerald, for the music of his writing, this fascinating, obsessive, haunting rhythm. When I finish reading one of his books, I’m always stuck in it for a ages. It’s like waking up very slowly from a delicate dream, like his words got tattooed on your skin… I’m a big fan.

Alex Turner! I know, he’s a musician. But also one of the best lyricists of his/my generation. To me his songs are so close to poems. And we do need a bit of rock’n’roll in this dinner!

True fact: I’m French. What else?

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