Tag Archives: Futurebook 2012

From a Recruitment Perspective

Often it depends entirely on who you talk to. Some say that publishing is on the brink of collapse. Many say the printed word will be dead within five years. A brave few say that the main contenders will stand firm and remain unchanged. The fearful many will just have to wait and see. In all respects the passion remains untouched. It’s almost like a multi layered game of poker. The only differences being that you can see your opponent’s cards, there aren’t any rules and no one can possibly estimate how long the game will last for.

From a recruitment perspective it’s been, and is going to be, a fascinating yet challenging time. As an agency we are constantly adapting to the changing face of the industry as and when it happens. We have to. Everything is evolving. Sadly with evolution comes destruction and we’ve had to bear witness to the downfall of some established and illustrious names who just don’t know where to turn anymore.

So we turn to those who can point us in the right direction. We dig deep into the minds of our new pioneers of the industry. We analyse trends and seek new language. We take time to ask people working in the industry what their opinions are, what they’ve learned and how they perceive the industry as it stands. We want to know what they think. We want to know what you think. There’s no right or wrong answer but that’s the entire point. If we don’t learn from those that have already learned their lessons then we would be as lost as those who currently feel they are.

Evolution also brings birth and subsequent rebirth. As we explore digital dominions there are new skills required, new lessons to learn, new ideas, new technology, new candidates and new companies. The entire span of the industry, from assistant editor to managing director, is bearing witness to the birth of a new age. Where once we were afraid we now embrace the multi-faceted collage that we now claim to be our new conceptual business model. As complicated as this may be there’s a sense of freedom to it. The industry’s lack of direction can only inspire the path seekers to keep searching for their final destination. The rules have been changed, broken and rewritten. We now seek the brave, the entrepreneurial, the opportunists and the steady pair of hands.

The advantage we have as an agency is that all of our consultants have worked in the publishing industry. We understand the late nights in the office meeting an impossible schedule. We have pored through the slush piles. We have felt the fizzing office atmosphere of a new publication creeping through a last minute embargo.  We have clutched advance copies to our breathless chests. We have clinched sales deals only to charge onto the next one. We are fascinated by the changes our industry is experiencing and are as passionate as you are.

We can help you find the right people to help drive you in whatever direction you are choosing to go. Equally we take much needed time with both clients and candidates. It’s not just about the skills sets or the salary or the people they know. It’s about the passion, the office culture, the personality fit and the feeling you get when you meet a candidate and your heart beats a little faster when you know that they have a great and grand future ahead of them.

These are challenging times. These are opportunistic times. The future of the book is in our hands. We can help you shape it.

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Futurebook 2012 Roundup

On Monday the 3rd December we attended and were proud to sponsor the Futurebook 2012 round up. There were many fascinating speakers, many eye opening debates and certainly lots of concept based conversations based on the new ways in which publishing companies exist in this new marketplace. A lot of familiar ground was covered but there were some refreshing and ground breaking ideas and opinions from individuals keen to know more. If you were lucky enough to attend you may have noticed a prevailing sense of adventure and new life being breathed into business practices that had previously been thought of as impassable. It’s a brave new world and we’re proud to be a part of it.

We’ve gathered our opinions here but feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment box below.

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International Perspective (Claire Law)

It was an excellent day for discussing all things digital and I really enjoyed the International Perspective session.  We’re doing more and more work with international publishers and it’s helpful to know what’s happening globally.  Of particular interest was Marcello Vena’s introduction of RCS Libri’s new free ebooks on trains project.  As a regular train traveller this would be amazing but can’t see it happening any time soon here!  As so many people have said, it’s all about discoverability – the issue for sales of the 99% of titles that aren’t bestsellers.  It’s not just about book discovery, it’s also about the discovery of readers!  Patrick Rouvillois, MD International, Barnes & Noble outlined the creation of the Nook ecosystem and Nook channels for better discoverability. And Hannah Russell, Publisher Relationships Manager at Txtr gave us a fascinating case study of their move into the Malaysian market and the obstacles they’ve overcome working with a local partner, Maxis.  The Txtr beagle product is the first to be charged via battery with content added via Bluetooth – great for emerging markets.

Branding (Claire Louise)

Last Monday I was at FutureBook with others from the AtwoodTate team. I got to spend the day with my favourite people (publishing people ROCK!), listening to some really clever chaps and chapesses talking about what is happening in an industry I love – it was a good day. Lots and lots of things were talked about, but two things in particular struck me.

The first was the concept of The Brand. Publishers need to be looking beyond the book format (be that print or digital), and instead be embracing the whole IP (intellectual property). Think Harry Potter – it is the books, but it is also apps, games, and films, it’s a website, a theme park. It could be something else they haven’t invented yet. At the core is a central IP, or brand. This is going to require a change in working practices, multi-partner collaboration, and people brave enough to experiment.

Which brings me onto the other thing that was clear from the day. There is a crying need for people with the right sort of skills, and attitude, to embrace this digital future. Attracting, and keeping, these people might require us acknowledging that the best candidate isn’t always from a traditional publishing background. It is also about recognising that sometimes personality is as important as a set of skills. (Which is why AtwoodTate meets all our candidates, before we put them forward for an interview).

Consumer Insight (Sam Coleman)

One of the most insightful and consistent messages running through the core of the Futurebook conference 2012 was the impact on publishing of consumer insight. Due to the almost open access nature of content the very fact that the customer is now able to provide direct feedback to the publisher opens up an entire new range of business practices. Rebecca Smart, CEO of Osprey, spoke in great detail regarding the need for publishers to specialise in their customer even going to such depths to understand their hopes and dreams as well as the story they tell themselves. This is vital thinking in respect to establishing exactly not only what the customer wants to buy but how their purchase is an integral part of their lives. Being able to understand the patterns of data that are now available to us in terms of customer profiling, spending habits, content usage and territory are quickly becoming fundamental in the way a company sells content and finds their “voice”.

Stephen Page from Faber touched on the next generation of readers and writers who are now in a position to feel a real connection with a publisher’s brand along with the content itself. The existing and emerging market would be foolish to ignore the importance of the consumer. The power of the blogging community is also an essential consideration to be taken into account as a company. There are new and exciting ways in which to focus strategy and enable direct communication with consumer markets. There are new virtual worlds to exist in and understanding the etiquette that comes with these concepts is vital to exist effectively and succeed financially. The power of the consumer in your hands.

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Rebecca Smart

Rebecca Smart is CEO of Osprey Group, a UK-based international publishing company focused on producing the best content for enthusiasts across a broad range of specialist areas including military history, heritage and nostalgia, transport history, crafts, antiques, science fiction and fantasy, and mind, body and spirit. Osprey Group publishes in four divisions: Osprey, Shire, Angry Robot and Watkins. What defines the company is not what it creates but for whom it creates. Osprey Group publishes books and content based on subject enthusiasms and passions, whether it be authoritative technical data on the military technology of World War II, a positive psychology guide, a history of the Great Western Railway or an edgy genre novel set in near-future South Africa.

1. What is your most memorable achievement in publishing and why?

The achievements I remember most are those of my team. I believe the most important way I can spend my time is in helping people be the best they can be, and it’s such a great feeling to see someone step up to a new level in their work, or to take on a new role and really fly in it. I know that sounds very clichéd but it’s true.

2. How much impetus was placed on the use of social media with the release of Angry Robot? Any lessons learned?

Angry Robot is very much part of the community (of both authors and readers) it serves. The editors and marketers use social media all the time as a natural part of being ‘in the gang’. Developing a brand within a niche market takes time and patience, but a steadily growing feeling of belonging is crucial and social media is key to this. Lessons … don’t try too hard, blend different types of communication, be yourself, make friends, remember that face-to-face is a social medium too.

3. What are you most excited about as one of the Judging panel for FutureBook’s Digital Innovation Awards?

I have been really excited to see work which matches great use of a digital platform with meeting a clear market need – not just innovation for the sake of innovation. I can’t say any more for now!

4. If you could travel five years back in time what advice would you give yourself?

On workflow and systems, be creative in finding low-cost solutions which move the company towards an ultimate goal, don’t worry about getting there all in one go. And recognise that change makes people feel uncomfortable and that it’s OK for things not to be OK at times – it’s part of the process.

5. What do you look for when hiring individuals into a digital capacity?

In no particular order …

  • Creativity – not just capability around design/appearance of a product but also in thinking about process. I need people who can find their way through a project using innovative solutions. And that means flexibility is also key.
  • High energy combined with strong communication skills and a ‘can-do’ approach – I want someone who can enthuse and evangelise about digital and who is driven to succeed.
  • Technical knowledge and/or a hunger to learn a broad range of skills.
  • Broad commercial awareness and a focus on the customer.

6. And lastly if you were the living embodiment of a publishing business model what animal would you be and why?

We’d be Perry the platypus, from Phineas and Ferb (if you haven’t watched it I urge you to check it out, it’s brilliant). All the qualities of a platypus (people don’t get it but it’s perfectly suited to its environment) and a secret superhero to boot.

A huge thank you to Rebecca for taking time out of her extremely busy schedule to provide such insight. You can find her on Twitter via @rebecsmart. Rebecca is one of the judging panel for this year’s FutureBook’s Digital Innovation Awards of which we are a proud sponsor. I would strongly suggest heading over to the Futurebook blog site for some fascinating takes on digital publishing where you can read more from Rebecca and many others. As a further note the bookings for the Bookseller’s FutureBook 2012 conference close on Friday 23rd November. More details here. The conference takes place on Monday 3rd December so do come and say hello if you’re attending.

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