IPG Autumn Conference 2015


This year’s IPG Autumn Conference took place on November 12th. Here are some of Kellie’s highlights.

Nielsen first Independent publisher industry report

The Conference unveiled some of the key findings from the first ever Independent Publishing Report.  As Nielsen’s Jo Henry pointed out, the report finds independents to be in buoyant mood amid all the challenges. Digital accounts for more than 20% of sales at one in five IPG members now, publishers’ average number of full-time staff is just over nine, and that only 3% want Britain to leave the European Union in next year’s ‘Brexit’ poll. HE Academic was a tough market. There was growth in Education and Children’s. Paperbacks had good sales 55% and so did hardback sales. Ebooks were 12% of sales. Publishers are using freelancers. Editorial, Design, Marketing, Sales and Production were the top teams where they were used. There are staffing gaps in specialist roles as well as knowledge gaps. Another good thing about IPGs is that they are able to look at new writers, and develop a great brand.

How to be a Productivity Ninja

Graham Allcott, author of How to be a Productivity Ninja shared lots of useful advice for sharpening up all our working days. Try to stay relaxed, switch off Facebook, keep your email inbox at zero, take inspiration from others, maintain checklists and resist the always-available culture.  He also suggests to have a “have done” list of what you have achieved. This helps to create positivity. Sending “Thank you” cards creates gratitude and continues the happy abundant flow, leading to Zen-like publishing calm.

India is a new growth market for Independents

Philippa Malicka of Ingram discussed the size of the Indian book market. Education, online retail and regional languages are among the big opportunities—though piracy, tricky pricing decisions and tortuous distribution remain big obstacles.

Partnership publishing is flourishing

A Conference session on partnerships in trade publishing showed the power of linking up the skills of independents with respected brands. Phil Turner of Meze showed how his company’s localised partnerships with restaurants and chefs had led to big cookbook sales.

James Spackman on Building an Independent Brand

”Publisher brands are important and there’s never been a better time to develop one,” said James Spackman of Profile’s new Pursuit imprint. He pointed to examples of great branding at Galley Beggar Press, Pushkin Press, Nosy Crow and Unbound. Unbound put letters of thanks in their books, When Nosy Crow recruit, they ask the question “are they of the crow?” Canongate gush with enthusiasm to their authors– had couch at Frankfurt book fair, “we want to meet you”, and emphasised the importance of thinking about branding in every aspect of operations—right down to the appearance of the office. Bloomsbury’s book filled reception also mentioned as not seen as an author friendly space.

Amazon Marketing Services have set up an ad auction so booksellers can advertise on Amazon to get prime ad space. They bid pence for prime space and can use an ad budget of £100. Can keep bidding on the space to keep prime slot.

Independent publishing careers can flourish

Tom Bonnick of Nosy Crow and Andrew Furlow of Icon, past and present winners of the IPG Young Independent Publisher of the Year Award spoke about their experiences of working in the independent publishing industry. Their companies had given them many opportunities across publishing. This can lead to unconventional career paths at independent publishers. Independent publishers also have a lack of fear to try new things. “It’s not a path you could have in a corporate publisher,” agreed Andrew Furlow of Icon Books. But both said publishing needed to give more attention to training and recruiting new skill sets—things that will feed into training work the IPG will be doing over the next few years.


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