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Laura Austin

Laura Austin works at YUDU Media and is always on the lookout for trade and education publishers looking to digitise illustrated content for the web, tablets and mobile. Laura’s first publishing job was at Pearson, where she project managed and edited a range of digital and print products for ELT. Laura moved into her first sales position in 2008 and covered the UK, Ireland and Maltese Education Markets for Cengage Learning before moving to OUP as the ‘Digital Champion’ for the UK Sales team. She then moved to Brighton to join a Brighton-based tech start up, whilst co-founding BookMachine, a fast-growing community for the publishing industry.

Laura Austin

1. What has been your industry highlight of 2012?

Definitely the launch of iBooks Author. It has enabled publishers to create highly interactive books for the ipad (and ipad mini) at the fraction of the cost of a native app build. It’s been a great tool for our team at YUDU to work with. For educational publishers in particular, it allows them to take advantage of the student friendly features of the software, such as digital index cards and online glossaries. This means that the textbooks have considerable advantages over their paper equivalents. This is a really exciting development and really showcases how useful digital developments can be for the consumption of content.

2. What three things would you do first if the world ends on 21/12/2012? (assuming that everyone is alive to read this)

As simple as it sounds; I’d probably spend an afternoon with my brother. He also lives in London, but being busy people we tend to see each other twice a year. Shocking I know! After that it would have to be travel related really, I’ve always been into ‘Evita’ so a trip to Buenos Aires would be amazing. Finally – the sea. Nothing beats swimming in the sea on a warm day. So that’d be it – the perfect finale to life.

3. Since starting Bookmachine what insights can you offer into the nature of publishing?

Before starting BookMachine, I used to associate the publishing industry with the big 5 (or 6!) and focus on their movements as a benchmark of the nature of the publishing. Since starting BookMachine, I tend to focus on industry entrepreneurs – those who are creating platforms, tools and organisations, which support industry change; and who are seeking to find that missing piece of the jigsaw, which will revolutionise publishing. Great examples of these are Jellybooks, Valobox and ReadSocial. We’re about to see some significant shifts in how content reaches the market; and watching these models evolve is as insightful as it gets.

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

Earlier on in my career I don’t think I was patient enough, I liked to turn everything around quickly. Now I am older, I can see that everything takes time – new processes take time to develop, relationships take time to build and skills take time and dedication to master.

5. What advice would you give anyone looking to find work in publishing?

I’d recommend attending BookMachine events (excuse the blatant plug!) and networking like crazy. Remember to ask people how you can help them, rather than always be looking out for something yourself.

Make sure you focus on finding work in growth areas. You are likely to spend a lot of time at work, so make sure the skills used in jobs you apply for, are likely to help you in the future, and are not shortly to become ‘redundant’.

6. Lastly, predictable as ever, what is Santa bringing you for Christmas assuming you’ve behaved yourself this year?

All I want for Christmas is a day on the sofa (uninterrupted – and that includes the Twitter addiction!) with a really good book. That’s all!

A huge thank you to Laura for taking time out of her hectic schedule to talk to us. Sometimes I don’t know how she does it. You would be hard pushed not to have noticed or bumped into Laura at a publishing based event. I would also like to doff my cap to her for Bookmachine. It’s an excellent networking resource and they’re always lots of fun. Her and Gavin Summers have made a real success story out of it. You would be wise to attend the next one. You can follow Laura on Twitter @lauraaustinnow

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