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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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Open Access

I recently went to an evening hosted by OPuS, entitled “Open Access – Three Shades of Gold” and I wanted to share a little bit with you.

Before I go any further, I am going to say that this is a fascinating topic, brighter minds than mine have already said a lot of well-considered things, and there is just too much to go into here – but if you are looking for more in depth information, please see the links at the bottom of this post to start you off.

Open Access, or “OA”, is a huge topic that not only affects the academic community, but everyone in publishing to one degree or another. OA is the practice of providing unrestricted access via the Internet to peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles. OA is also increasingly being provided to theses, scholarly monographs and book chapters. Laird Barrett has already talked a little bit about it here. Ernesto Priego of the Comics Grid journal also talked about the challenges of Open Access in his interview here.

A recent survey by Wiley Open Access of their authors showed that over 80% felt that OA was more prevalent in their field than three years ago. 1; The Finch Report, released this summer, says that open access is the future of academic publishing. 2.; and the UK government announced in July that it plans to make all research open access by 2014.3

Simply put, OA publishing, turning as it does the traditional journal subscription-based publishing model on its head, has got a LOT of people talking and trying to work out what comes next.

As an academic whose thesis was all about the democratization of content, review, and it’s accessibility to readers, OA has the potential to make me happy. As someone who’s worked in publishing and who understands that what we do is a business and that someone has to pay to get a journal published, OA makes me nervous. So you can imagine I was fascinated to hear from some key industry players on their experiences.

Deborah Kahn (@deborahatbmc), Publishing Director at Biomed Central (the largest OA publisher) gave a really good overview of the state of OA publishing as it stands, primarily as it relates to science and medical journals. She quoted recent research which has looked into the state of OA – and because it is open access, I can share it with you. 4

David Ross, Publisher at Sage, then gave an overview from the humanities angle. The differences in funding structures between the disciplines really do make for some challenges and it was clear that what works for STM might not be what is best for the humanities.

Finally, Brian Hole, CEO of Ubiquity Press (@ubiquitypress) gave us a glimpse into the possible future, with his emphasis on humanities journals and how they can be developed to fit in with the needs of scholarly communities.

Open Access clearly has the potential to affect us all. The snowball has started rolling and Academic and STM publishers are trying out various different approaches to make it work. But looking to the future, and across into trade publishing and the “e-book revolution”, I can see parallels. Simply put, how DO you monetize content in a world that sees digital as “free” or at least “cheaper”? How do you value intellectual property as opposed to a physical object? I can’t even pretend to have ANY of the answers, but I will tell you it is a truly AWESOME time to be involved in publishing and I cannot wait to see what is around the corner.

Footnotes and links:
The Guardian has done a good round-up of the open access debate: http://www.guardian.co.uk/higher-education-network/blog/2012/aug/10/uk-open-access-research-debate-round-up

1Slideshow of results of Wiley Author Survey on Open Access 2012: http://www.slideshare.net/WileyScienceNewsroom/wiley-14895586 (found via @publish_advice)

2 Guardian article on the Finch Report: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/jun/19/open-access-academic-publishing-finch-report. The full report can be found here.

3Department for Business Innovation and Skills: Government to open up publicly funded research press release.

4 Anatomy of open access publishing: a study of longitudinal development and internal structure. Mikael Laakso* and Bo-Christer Björk. BMC Medicine 2012 10:124 doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-124 http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/124

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Oxford Diary: David Fickling at the SYP

David Fickling from David Fickling Books gave a talk to the SYP last night in Oxford about the relationship between the publisher and the author, and he was really rather inspiring.

Below is a summary of the various tweets from the event – my favourite quote of the evening is still “It’s a physi-digi world and it’s kind of groovy“. Because it is.

  1. eleanorkatesh
    The incredible David Fickling talking about the relationship between the publisher and the author. #sypoxford http://pic.twitter.com/6Bq2rALb
  2. charlieinabook
    @DFB_storyhouse so inspired by Mr Fickling’s wonderful talk today! Especially loved the book blocking dance #SYPoxford
  3. emmyappleby
    Spend as little time worrying about the economics; spend as much time as possible finding a really good story #SYPOxford #publishing
  4. emmyappleby
    Todays publishing is physi-igital #DavidFickling #SYPOxford
  5. falldownlachute
    David Fickling talking at OUP tonight; ‘there will always be a shaper and there will always be a storyteller’ #SYPoxford
  6. Charly_Ford
    RT @WException: #sypoxford @DFB_storyhouse “Trust your own views and have the courage to make decisions based on them.” #editing
  7. WException
    #sypoxford @DFB_storyhouse “Trust your own views and have the courage to make decisions based on them.” #editing
  8. WException
    #sypoxford @DFB_storyhouse David’s 3 principles of publishing: Legacy; Sharing; Autonomy #publishing #editing
  9. northernmoores
    RT @AtwoodTate: Fundamental rule of editing is that it is not your book. At the core, there is always the storyteller #sypoxford
  10. smbateman87
    Thank you to David Fickling for thoroughly reinvigorating my love for children’s publishing and the publishing world in general! #sypoxford
  11. tehkelsey
    3 principles of publishing: legacy, share and autonomy #SYPOxford
  12. AtwoodTate
    Legacy, Share, Autonomy = core rules of publishing #sypoxford
  13. EmilyWhyy
    RT @Zazimarki: Digital is like an adolescent pullman daemon, it hasn’t yet taken its proper state #sypoxford
  14. Zazimarki
    Have you ever read a book which changes you@david fickling #sypoxford
  15. AtwoodTate
    Fundamental rule of editing is that it is not your book. At the core, there is always the storyteller #sypoxford
  16. AtwoodTate
    Reading of comics is vital to gets kids enjoying reading #sypoxford
  17. Zazimarki
    Digital is like an adolescent pullman daemon, it hasn’t yet taken its proper state #sypoxford
  18. eleanorkatesh
    David Fickling: the kindle is the equivalent of the talkies, more is still to come. #sypoxford
  19. AtwoodTate
    Digital is like an adolescent Pulman daemon – still taking it’s form. It’s exciting. No one knows what shape it will be. #sypoxford
  20. eleanorkatesh
    Remember, in the author-editor relationship, who is the other person and can they hear what you are saying? #sypoxford
  21. Zazimarki
    Rely on your sense of what works #sypoxford
  22. AtwoodTate
    There are many different ways of editing. You need to find the right one for the book and the particular author. #sypoxford
  23. ZaraPreston
    David Fickling books speaking for the SYP at Oxford University Press #sypoxford http://twitpic.com/b4rh45
  24. Zazimarki
    Making a publishing decision is fantastically energising @ David tickling #sypoxford
  25. WException
    #sypoxford @DFB_storyhouse “Our main concern is stories.” David Fickling
  26. AtwoodTate
    Narrative and story are key and the centre to everything David and @DFB_storyhouse does #sypoxford
  27. BIC1UK
    RT @AtwoodTate: The job of the publisher is to add energy and recognise good stuff @DFB_storyhouse #sypoxford
  28. AtwoodTate
    You need to have courage of your convictions – YES or NO quickly! Even though David hates saying no and taking time is also good #sypoxford
  29. AtwoodTate
    Stability is great – recognise an author and stay with them. The author makes the editor, not the other way round! #sypoxford
  30. AtwoodTate
    It’s a physi-digi world and it is kind of groovy #sypoxford
  31. helenawaldron
    RT @AtwoodTate: The job of the publisher is to add energy and recognise good stuff @DFB_storyhouse #sypoxford
  32. AtwoodTate
    The job of the publisher is to add energy and recognise good stuff @DFB_storyhouse #sypoxford
  33. WException
    David Fickling ‘We need a culture of stories for children’ #sypoxford @DFB_storyhouse @SYP_UK
  34. ZaraPreston
    Excited about David Fickling at OUP tonight! Only a few hours to go @DFB_storyhouse #sypoxford http://www.facebook.com/events/334479879980871/

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