Publishing needs to embrace change: preparing for heated debate at the FutureBook Conference

It’s clear from the #FutureBook14 activity on Twitter that members of the publishing industry are eagerly awaiting tomorrow’s FutureBook conference. Karine from Atwood Tate will be attending and tweeting on the day, but we’ve been doing some preparative reading and wanted to share a few thoughts in advance of tomorrows’ hot debates!

As recruiters for the publishing industry, we are particularly interested in how the changing landscape of publishing might affect skills required and the development of existing and new roles within the industry.

In a Q&A for FutureBook, George Berkowski, a keynote speaker at the conference, argues that publishing needs to embrace change through radical measures and accept that a business may need to “fundamentally reinvent” itself every few years in order to “flourish on the customer and business side”. One of the current obstacles that he sees publishers facing is not having existing staff or a track record of hiring people who are prepared to take risks and “cannabalise” their own business in order to progress. If the industry is going to adapt to the digital age, where content (the dreaded word…) is being published and accessed via so many different channels, the people working within publishing need to adopt a new attitude and approach.

Berkowski also addresses the issue of salaries and culture, something we’ve covered in previous blogs. He feels “publishing is not a culture that has incentives for innovation” and whilst I wouldn’t wholeheartedly agree with this, if publishers do want to attract technically minded people, who aren’t interested in going into publishing for the love of it and may have a lot of more lucrative options open to them, this would need to be addressed.

Perhaps publishing does need to be quicker to adapt and less risk averse, but there are people within the industry who do embrace innovation and change (maybe just not enough of them yet). In terms of marketing and publicity, which are areas Berkowski attacks, publishers are starting to use social media innovatively, for example successful virtual or multi-media festivals run by HarperCollins and Gollancz, and we are seeing some great new service providers like NetGalley, who provide digital proofs to reviewers and could hopefully help promote Berkowski’s next book!

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  1. Pingback: The FutureBook Conference (part one) - Atwood Tate

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