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OPuS/Bookmachine/SYP Christmas Party

OPus/Bookmachine/SYP Christmas Party

Our consultants Lisa Smars and Claire Louise Kemp are very excited to be attending the OPuS, Bookmachine & SYP Christmas Party this year! Held at the Jam Factory in Oxford it is set to be a very fun, very festive, evening!

It is the perfect evening to mingle with everybody across the publishing industry, just a plain good night out.

Let us know if you’re going on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and be sure to say hello to our colleagues if you see them!

Merry Christmas!

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Museum & Cultural Publishing: an evening with OPuS



Last Thursday, OPuS held an event to discuss Museum and Cultural Publishing. The speakers were Declan McCarthy (Ashmolean Museum), Samuel Fanous (The Bodleian Library) and Katie Bond (National Trust). John Hudson (Historic England) was the Chair.

The publishing and retail scene in museums, galleries and the heritage sector has been resilient during the recent unsettled years in publishing, and is a significant component of the wider cultural sector which is one of our national success stories. Within the sector, books are published on a variety of models – on a fully commercial basis or one of cost recovery, or in some cases conscious subsidy as part of a wider agenda. In this session, publishers from the National Trust, The Bodleian Library and the Ashmolean Museum, all based locally, describe their business and the particular characteristics of the cultural publishing sector.



Things learnt:

  • Lots of cultural publishers are members of ACE: The Association of Cultural Enterprises
  • The Ashmolean publishing programme focuses on event catalogs, tied to the 3-5 exhibitions the museum holds each year. These differ from general trade books in that the sales are tied very strongly to the actual exhibition, and any sales beyond a show are a bonus.
  • For the Ashmolean, business is still very focused around producing beautiful, physical books. E-books, apps, and other digital forms do exist and are continually looked into, but at the moment they are not viable revenue generators.
  • Whilst the Bodleian has always published, the current publishing programme is still very new and has been grown gradually and carefully.
  • Public engagement is fundamental to the continued survival of cultural institution, and a publishing programme is a useful tool for this.
  • The Bodleian has several different approaches it takes when publishing titles: 1) doing a direct facsimile edition of an out-of-print book, 2) repackaging material in a new format, 3) publishing newly authored titles (that often use illustrations and source material from the collections), 4) gift-books to bring in a new audience of non-scholars.
  • The National Trust has over 200 shops – that is more nationally than Waterstones – and around 50% of their book revenues come from sales in those shops. The other 50% is primarily from sales in the UK trade. Like the Ashmolean, most of their sales are print, with digital and ebooks having more presence overseas.
  • Along with the annual Handbook that goes to all National Trust members, and the individual property guidebooks which are done in-house, they also publishing specialist books, illustrated narrative non-fiction, and children’s books. These are published in partnership with Nosy Crows, Pavilion, and Faber & Faber.
  • A book that sells well in the Trade does not (always) sell well in the gift-shops, and vice versa. Katie has learnt that the more a book is embedded in the organisation and ties back to their core message, the better it does.
  • The Children’s market is challenging, nostalgic, brand driven, infuriating, hard to break in to, but with massive talent, potential, and hugely rewarding.
  • As an editor you may come across challenges from elsewhere in your organisation about why you commissioned a particular title from a particular author. You need to know what you are publishing and why, and don’t be afraid to stick to your guns if it is important. That is the editors job!

All in all, it was a fascinating evening learning about a sector of the industry many of us are not aware of. The main lesson I learned was that publishing in the heritage sector requires a thorough understanding of the requirements of your market, a deep appreciation for the uniqueness of your source material (be that a museum, a library collection, or several hundred distinct properties around the country), a creative mind to see the new potential, and the willingness to take a risk on something that hasn’t been done before.

Let us know your thoughts on the event, on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn! Or tag us in your photos on Instagram!

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OPuS Event: Careers in 21st Century Publishing


The other week our Oxford-based consultants, Claire Louise Kemp and Lisa Smars, attended the Atwood Tate sponsored Oxford Publishing Society (OPuS) event Careers in 21st Century Publishing. OPuS invited four industry professionals to share their career stories and their top tips for getting into the publishing industry. What we learned was that there is no one career path you can take in publishing – and often what you thought you’d be doing is not where you actually end up!

The speakers:

David Spencer, Publisher Social Sciences at Elsevier

When starting university, David hadn’t really considered a career in publishing. He taught in Australia for a year, and completed a master’s of sociology in sport, before starting to apply for jobs. He landed his first job in publishing in the editorial department at Taylor & Francis. From there he advanced and got his own list responsibilities, and he recently joined Elsevier as Publisher.

Emily Brand, Managing Editor at Bodleian Library Publishing

After studying history at university Emily started working at Osprey Publishing as an Editor, stayed there for a couple of years before joining OUP as a Production Editor. Recently she started working at Bodleian Publishing as Managing Editor. Emily has been working as a freelance writer and historian alongside her full-time roles, and have published several books.

 Robbie Cooke, Marketing and PR Manager at Rebellion

After finishing a Master’s in Publishing from Oxford Brookes, Robbie started his first job in publishing as Marketing Assistant at Taylor & Francis.  Following on from that he worked at Boardworks, and Pearson Education before getting a job at Rebellion as a Marketing and PR Coordinator. Rebellion is primarily a games company, so not a traditional publisher as such, and when Robbie joined them, he was their first ever marketing person.

Emily Pigeon-Martin, Online Consultant at Lidl

Like Robbie, Emily also has a MA in Publishing from Oxford Brookes, but so far her career has been very different. She started her publishing journey at Haymarket as Direct Marketing Executive, before working in marketing at News International and Sunday Times. After that she left more traditional publishing and joined the supermarket chain Lidl as Digital Marketing Manager.

Thing we learnt, important advice, and interesting facts:

  • When you start applying for you first job in publishing, don’t be disheartened by job rejections – we all get them!
  • When companies are recruiting new staff, it’s important to remember that they often look for candidates that can progress within the organisation.
  • Show enthusiasm in job interviews.
  • When you start your first job in publishing, remember to show initiative, manage your time properly, try your best to understand the day-to-day challenges of the people around you, get out of your comfort zone, and never stop learning.
  • Don’t be afraid of maternity cover contracts – they can be a great way to gain valuable experience and to get a foot in the door of a company.
  • A lot of the skills you’ll pick up are transferable.
  • Networking is a key part of every job – so get good at it! (read our blog on the topic!)
  • Believe in yourself.

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Careers in 21st Century Publishing


Atwood Tate are pleased to be sponsoring the OPuS event tonight, Careers in 21st Century Publishing.

In the fast-moving world of publishing, “jobs for life” are an anomaly and transferable skills essential. But how easy is it to progress in publishing and move between market sectors and different roles? What are the key elements you need to build your career? Is it possible to succeed outside traditional publishing companies?

Focusing on their own specific work experience in moving onwards and upwards from entry level jobs, 4 speakers from a wide range of companies will give a unique insight into the diverse profession loosely referred to as “publishing”.

Confirmed speakers:
• David Spencer: Publisher, Social Sciences, Elsevier
• Emily Brand: Managing Editor, Bodleian Library Publishing
• Robbie Cooke: Marketing and PR Manager at Rebellion
Further speakers to be announced.

Drinks & Networking from 6.15pm
Presentations 7-8.30pm
Willow Buildings, Oxford Brookes University
To register, go to http://www.opusnet.co.uk/events/forthcoming-events/careers-in-publishing

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Narrative… Text… What Next?

The Oxford Publishers Society (OPuS) recently held an event looking at Transmedia publishing in a Brave New World, and Charly (one of the committee members) has once again very kindly done a little post-game analysis for those of us who couldn’t go. Over to her!
Charly Ford

November’s OPuS event, Narrative… Text… What Next? Transmedia publishing in a Brave New World, showcased interesting and dynamic approaches to storytelling.

First up was White October, held in high esteem for the award-winning online tool Lambeth Library Challenge (winner of a Nominet Internet Award 2013). Dave Fletcher entertained and informed the audience by showing us the interactive documentary Pine Point, online feature Snow Fall (available via The New York Times website) and an extraordinary Arcade Fire music video. All of these were not only fascinating but also gave an insight into creative ways in which technology can be harnessed to give the consumer an interesting experience with content.

Graham Nelson and Emily Short gave a presentation on interactive fiction – fiction that the reader is able to control to some degree. We enjoyed a live demo of the ‘Inform’ system and gained an insight into the Versu ‘living stories’ that are being developed by Linden Lab. It was interesting to see a digital playing-out of the classic ‘choose your own’ concept and it certainly gave the audience food for thought.

Richard Fine’s talk focussed on video games. A game developer himself, Richard showed us a sneak preview of his current project Infection – last rites and explained the idea of ‘Ludonarrative dissonance’ – essentially a concept that means a video game player won’t always act within the story that the game wants to tell. This is definitely worth further investigating for anyone interested in the gamification of content.

Last, but not least, were Jen Porter and Kirk Bowe from BeyondTheStory (only hours before their presentation at the Futurebook conference in London). BeyondTheStory focuses on dynamic storytelling experiences and we were given a preview of their work with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and heard about the success of their The Almighty Johnsons companion app. Anyone involved in digital publishing should keep their eyes peeled on Porter and Bowe’s work – it will be interesting to see the ways in which publishers will continue harnessing technology to maximise their content.

So, what indeed is next for publishing? We can’t be entirely sure but I’m confident that all of these ideas, and other influences from surrounding creative industries, will play a significant role in shaping the next stage of our industry’s progress.

A big thank you to Charly for taking the time to write this post. I highly recommend you sign up to receive the OPuS newsletter and we’ll hopefully see you at future events!

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What is happening in the supply chain?

The Oxford Publishers Society (OPuS) recently held an event looking at how the supply chain is changing, and one of the committee members has very kindly done a little post-game analysis for those of us who couldn’t go. Over to her!

Charly Ford has worked in the editorial department at Osprey Publishing since December 2008 and is currently a project manager specialising in the development of new digital products. She is also Oxford’s BookMachine event representative, arranging social and speaker evenings that bring together a range of people connected to Oxford’s thriving publishing industry. In 2013 Charly also became involved with the Oxford Publishing Society committee.

Charly Ford

The day of the OPuS talk ‘What is happening in the supply chain?’ (sponsored by Ingram Content Group) coincided with an absolutely glorious sunny spell. Turnout was most impressive in spite of the weather and I admire Oxford’s publishers for putting OPuS ahead of the first barbecue of the season!

In my day-to-day involvement with publishing I don’t have a great deal of contact with the people directly involved in the supply side of the business. As I work in editorial/digital, I am most content with content. That being said, it was most interesting to spend an evening listening to people who operate at the other end of the publishing chain, and to hear the ways in which publishing’s recent evolutionary leaps have affected the sales/distribution side of things.

We were treated to talks from Random House-owned GBS (Andy Willis and Colin James) and from Gardners (Bob Kelly). They all explained how much the role of the distributor has had to change and adapt, keeping up with the times and moving with the progress being made within the book business. New ways of working, and the development of whole new services to publishers and retailers, have had to be created. It was fascinating to hear how they have had to adapt to the same changes that have affected the way we work at the start of the publishing chain. Digital and the internet, among other factors, have really impacted on the entire industry – I’ll be honest and say that I had never really appreciated the extent to which distributors, a middle link in the chain between product creation and sale, have had to pivot and react to changes we are all encountering.

I cannot do the speakers justice by trying to relay all their points, thoughts and observations, so instead I will urge anyone who has not been to OPuS talks before to come along to an evening or two. A wide range of topics are covered and they all offer opportunities to learn a bit more about the industry as a whole. And as the subject of this particular evening reflects, we’re all part of a chain. There are lots of us connected, we just happen to be located at different points.

A big thank you to Charly for taking the time to write this post. I highly recommend you sign up to receive the OPuS newsletter and we’ll hopefully see you at future events!

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