(Temporary) Blogs' Archive 2014

This year’s round-up of the best literary gifts for Christmas 2014.

December 1st, 2014 by Hannah Elizabeth Roberts | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on This year’s round-up of the best literary gifts for Christmas 2014.

Do you have someone in your life who is obsessed with books, reading and anything literary related but have no idea what to buy them for Christmas except from a book or gift vouchers? Then this might be the list for you. I have searched the internet for the best literary gifts around and have come up with a selection that is sure to please any book fanatic this holiday season:

  1. Literary T-shirtsBuzzfeed have compiled this rather impressive list of book themed clothing that are sure to light up your loved one’s face on Christmas morning. My favourite is the ‘Atticus Finch’ To Kill a Mocking Bird t-shirt. I have definitely noticed a rising trend for book or literary themed clothing in the past couple of years so these are a must buy!

blue tshirt with white writing that says atticus finch attorney at law



2. Literary Mugs: It’s rare that you will find a book lover without a mug of tea or coffee in their hand. Why not treat them to the Literary Gift Company’s selection of adorable mugs?

matilda mug



 3. Fancy Book Shelves:

Buzzfeed have again come up with a list of brilliant book-related gifts. How does a wall of floating book shelves sound? Find them online!



stacks of floating books that are shelves




4. Literary Jewellery: If you’re like me and love jewellery and books then these should be on your Christmas wish list. Either for yourself, or for someone special. The Literary Emporium have a fantastic selection of themed jewels for you to choose from! The Ernest Hemingway ‘Cat Lover’ necklace is on my wishlist.


silver cat necklace



5. Unusual Bookmarks: For those of you like myself, who have a mountain of half-read books on their bedside table, these bookmarks are just the thing you need. Practical and cute! You can find these on Amazon.



book mark that is red and says be right back in white writing



6. Your/ You’re set of teacups: Need I say anymore? These are available via Etsy.


teacups with the different spelling of your and saucers



So, there you have it, my selection of alternative book related gifts for you to give to someone special this Christmas.

All you have to do is decide what to buy!

  • Hannah Roberts, M.Litt in Publishing Studies, University of Stirling, 2014-15.

The Future of Indie Bookshops

November 30th, 2014 by Helen Griffin | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Future of Indie Bookshops


On Wednesday 19th November, in the Central Library in Edinburgh, SYP Scotland held a seminar discussing the future of Indie Bookshops. The panelists included representatives from four Independent Bookshops in Edinburgh: Gillian Robertson from Looking Glass Books, Elaine Henry from Word Power Books, Ian Macbeth from Golden Hare Books and Marie Moser from The Edinburgh Bookshop. Each representative spoke about what was next for them, what had changed over the last few years and what changes were still to come as independent booksellers adapt their business models in a bid to hold on to their share of the book market. The event was chaired by Peggy Hughes, Programme Director of the Dundee Literary Festival, Co-ordinator of the Dundee International Book Prize, and sundry other projects and publications at Literary Dundee. Peggy was also one of the judges for the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards 2013 and a Trustee for Reel Arts. By night, Peggy is also the Programme Director of the West Port Book Festival and one third of Electric Bookshop.




The Independent Booksellers:

Looking Glass Books


Looking Glass Books is a bookshop and café that was set up in Edinburgh’s Quartermile in 2012. Gillian Robertson explained that the bookshop was opened when the industry was already where it is now, and so they haven’t had to do a lot of adapting. Their strategies have been more focused on who they are, where they might go and how they might place themselves within the industry.






Word Power Books

Word Power Books

It has been 20 years since Elaine Henry cut the red ribbon to Word Power Books in West Nicolson Street. Even after their 20 year success, Elaine said that there are still people who come into the store and ask how long they have been open for. Sometimes thinking, ‘what are we doing wrong that people still don’t know our existence’, Elaine believes this to be one of the major challenges of being an independent bookseller. Independent bookshops are not one homogenous group, and Word Power Books is what Elaine would call a radical bookshop dedicated to supporting small presses and independent presses (although they would get anything in for their customers). Word Power Books also publish, having done 22 titles. Their latest book, The Liberty Tree, about the Scottish radical Thomas Muir, was a leading review in the Sunday Times. Elaine commented that this feat meant they had finally been given some recognition for what they do after 20 years in the business.


Golden Hare Books


Golden Hare Books opened 3 years ago and is based in St. Stephen Street, Stockbridge. Ian Macbeth described the shop as having a curated feel, like many independent bookshops, distinguishing itself from larger chains.








The Edinburgh Bookshop


The Edinburgh Bookshop, nestled at Holy Corner in Bruntsfield, was opened 7 years ago and bought by Marie Moser just 2 years ago. Since then Marie has benefited from a double turnover and successes such as winning the UK Children’s Bookseller 2014 and being named Scottish Independent Bookshop 2014. Discussing the obvious successes of her predecessor, Marie nonetheless talked about the importance of accepting what you are and what works for your customers rather than what you want to be or feel you should be. When Fifty Shades of Grey came out it was 15% of the book market, and although, as Marie acknowledged, ‘ it might be considered by some people to be a rubbish piece of writing, it was the biggest thing since Harry Potter’. Marie’s predecessor would not stock the book, telling people they would need to go across the road to Tesco. Marie’s position on this kind of mentality was simple: ‘As a small independent retailer you have to get off your high horse’.

Existing Relationships with Digital

When discussing independent bookshops’ relationship with digital, Marie challenged that as yet the world might be 50% digital but not everything in the world is digital. In Britain we buy physically half a million books a day, not E-books, physical books! That might be massively down on 20 years ago, but according to Marie, if you found any businessman who was setting up a business and you said to him you could sell him half a million units a day, could he honestly think that wasn’t one cracking business? In relation to social media, however,  Marie questioned the practical uses of Twitter. Although a tweeter herself, since Marie has come into the industry, her opinion has become more inclined to regard it as a platform for the way the industry talks to itself.

Continuing with this discussion, Peggy Hughes humorously compared being good at Twitter as like ‘being good at the egg and spoon’. Ian Macbeth also likened twitter to playing ‘Guitar Hero’, with links to articles and people’s opinions coming at you all the time, just like the coloured blocks in the game. Ian also felt that it was a platform where it was difficult to make your voice heard. Although he does tweet about events and interesting books that have come into his store, Ian believes that interpersonal links are far more important, with tools such as a mailing list being a much better way to keep in touch with your customers. Although many people do love a mailing list, in today’s digital age it may be seen as archaic. Overall, Ian felt that Facebook had less impact than Twitter but that mailing lists and store websites were much more significant tools for promotional activity from the standpoint of an independent bookseller.

In a rather different digital era, Elaine Henry first used microfiche to look up books. From stock-card indexing to today’s methods, Elaine has definitely seen first hand the rising demand for instant response. In terms of twitter Elaine said, ‘I don’t tweet because I just don’t have the time. This thing that you should be sending out three tweets a day, I just find it a challenge’. However, when informed by Peggy that she had been tweeted by Russell Brand, an astonished Elaine relented to find a positive outcome to the social media platform, laughing, ‘I guess sometimes Twitter can work to your advantage’.

Gillian Robertson also commented that she tweeted regularly, but was quick to point out that you can’t have blanket rules for every bookstore. Gillian did agree with Marie’s opinion that Twitter was a way in which the industry spoke to itself, but pointed out that it depends on whom you follow. Gillian follows local independent businesses and Edinburgh locals, which she believes, has been crucial to her success. ‘I don’t know if we would have been able to get off the ground without social media’.

Indie Bookshop VS. Amazon

Marie Moser was of the opinion that businesses could not be future proofed, claiming that in today’s day and age, ‘there is no room to be mediocre, if you are not interested and engaged you are not going to make money’. Marie’s basic view of digital was that it was a society and that Amazon was at the pinnacle of it.

Ian was quick to point out that it’s not just Amazon, it’s supermarkets, Waterstones, etc. Independent booksellers cannot match the discounts of these large retailers, and even if  they could, they wouldn’t want to. Ian’s theory is that if you can’t offer the same discounts you have to offer people something else. Amazon can never provide the same experience as bricks and mortar bookshops as they are selling on experience and Amazon is selling on instant gratification.


Within Word Power Books they have leaflets exhibiting quotes such as ‘think before you click’ and ‘discounts don’t come for free’. Marie’s agreement with these slogans prompted her to challenge the role of the publisher, arguing that there is a danger the industry is losing sight of volume and bestsellers versus actually making profit, therefore illustrating the idea that any fool can sell something cheap. Marie commented  that when you let big chains heavily discount your lead title you devalue that brand and you devalue the years of work that the writer undertook to make the product. The fact that publishers should value what they sell was most evidently what offended Marie the most.

Marie also argued that publishers, as an industry, are letting retailers hammer down prices. If you were to ask the public if they wanted to buy products as cheap as they could, it is inevitable that they would say yes. The reality, according to Marie, is that this is not true or we wouldn’t have luxury brands; ‘We will buy what we think is a fair price for something nice’.

The seminar ended on the positive note that since 2009 there has been a resurgence of independent bookshops. According to all four of the independent booksellers, what we need to do is look at what is driving this; it may be a small movement, but it can have a big impact. Overall, for independent bookshops world domination is not on their agenda, however, they do not just want to survive, because that’s a low bar; they want to thrive, and as far as the seminar proved, Amazon is not going to stop them.


Visiting Speaker: Zoë Strachan

November 26th, 2014 by Kena Nicole Longabaugh | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker: Zoë Strachan

zoestrachanOn Thursday 20th November, author  Zoë Strachanpaid us a visit as part of our visiting speaker series. Based in Glasgow, Zoë has three published novels: Negative Space (Picador), Spin Cycle (Picador) and Ever Fallen in Love (Sandstone). She also writes short stories, plays, libretti and essays and is a lecturer for the University of Glasgow’s Creative Writing programme.

To start off, Zoë discussed how the publishing industry has changed since the publication of her first novel in 1999. Her first experience of publishing was of an incestuous world: everyone knew everyone and you needed connections to get your foot in the door. With the support of her literary agent David Miller, she was able to sign a two book deal with Picador.

Next, Zoë discussed the pros and cons of working with a large publisher like Picador. Picador had many valuable resources and her book was heavily copy-edited to a high standard. However, there were several staff changes during the development of her first novel that left her with three different editors throughout the process. She had a much better experience with her second novel and described her editor as an ally who “really made me think, really challenged me.” She also stated, “If you’ve got a good editor, a good publisher…it is a tremendous privilege.”

Zoë’s third novel was published with Sandstone Press after being rejected by Picador. She said there was less money involved than Picador, but as a small publisher Sandstone was able to give her much more support and personalised attention.

To the aspiring author, Zoë gave some hopeful advice: “You just have to get your manuscript on the desk of one person who opens it, gets it and likes it. Only one person has to like it.”

Zoë’s talk was delightful and informative and provided us with insight into the publishing process through the eyes of authors. Moreover, she praised the role of publishers as supporters and gatekeepers, a refreshing sentiment to hear in a time when many are questioning the role of traditional publishers.


Guest Speaker: Lindsey Fraser

November 19th, 2014 by Leia Forster | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Guest Speaker: Lindsey Fraser


fraser ross

On the 13th of November, Lindsey Fraser of Fraser Ross Associates visited us here at Stirling to give a talk on the role of the literary agent.

Lindsey began by reminiscing of a time when book publishing was simpler. Books had one price; that which was displayed on the book jacket, and books were limited to paperback and hardback formats.

As the publishing industry adapted to reflect changes in the digital landscape, it became apparent that authors needed representatives who had their best interests at heart and would help them to manoeuvre the unfamiliar realm of publishing.

Having spent ten years working for the Scottish Book Trust, Lindsey and colleague Kathryn Ross had established that there was a need amongst Scottish authors for agent representation, and so they left the Scottish Book Trust in order to create Fraser Ross Associates. They are now part of the small literary agent community which forms The Association of Scottish Literary Agents.

When speaking specifically about the role of the agent, Lindsey said that she considers literary agents to be responsible for finding the best possible homes for books. She also expressed that a major part of the role is giving your writers confidence, and that it is important to remember that agents are sometimes the only contact that writers have with the world of publishing. Trust is essential in this relationship.

Lindsey went on to highlight that the agent is on the side of the author, and ultimately it is their aim to help the author make money from their writing. The agent also encourages the writer to respect publisher deadlines and teaches them how to deal with promotional events as well as showing them how to make the most of opportunities that are presented to them.

Talking more about the encouragement that should be offered to authors, Lindsey noted that they are particularly vulnerable after having their first book published and are beginning to consider the next. It is important to help them through this period of insecurity. She commented that authors have a tendency to look at what was not right with their book and need to be reminded of what was good. She also said that sometimes after having a book published, authors would like to have a period of rest, but there is an important issue here regarding the children’s book industry. Children grow up quickly, and their interest in certain books changes. If you are publishing a children’s series, you need to ensure that the books are published before your readership outgrows them. Sometimes it is necessary for an author to produce a number of books in quick succession, especially if their books are doing well.                                                                                                                             scottish bt

Nearing the end of the talk, we were informed of The Scottish Book Trust’s live literature scheme which provides funding for author visiting sessions at schools in Scotland. They pay half of the author’s fee as well as traveling expenses which allows more schools to benefit from visiting sessions while authors also get to promote their books and interact with their readers on a more personal level.

Lindsey’s talk offered wonderful insight into the role of an agent in the publishing industry. She shared with us her refreshingly honest thoughts and opinions regarding some issues within the industry, and I particularly liked her comparison of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair to speed dating which highlighted once more the importance of networking in this industry.


Saltire Society Literary Awards 2014

November 19th, 2014 by Callum Mitchell Walker | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Saltire Society Literary Awards 2014


SCOTLAND ALBA LOGOOn Tuesday 11th November several of our MLitt & PhD students enjoyed an evening of literature, music and canapés at the Saltire Literary Awards hosted at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. The Saltire Society, a non-political independent charity founded in 1936, hosts the annual ceremony to celebrate the finest Scottish literature produced in the past year.

The most prestigious award of the night, the Saltire Society Book of the Year, was won by an academic work detailing Scottish urbanisation in the 18thcentury, The Scottish Town in the Age of Enlightenment 1740-1820. Co-authored by professors Bob Harris and the late Charles McKean, the book was produced after a three-year long period of research and also won this year’s Saltire Society Research Book of the Year award. Exploring the transitional development of 18th century burghs and the importance of understanding these changes in society, the book was described as a “pioneering study” by judges. Professor Harris received a cash prize of £10,000 at the ceremony and told guests that he was honoured to win the award in a country “with such a rich tradition of writing”.

Winners in the categories of poetry, history, literature and first book, were awarded £2,000, including Alexander Hutchison for his collection Bones and Breath, which claimed the Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year award. Described as a “masterly new collection” from the poet, the book mixes satire with affection. The History Book of the Year award was won by social historian Steve Bruce for his exploration of cultural and religious change in Scotland in Scottish Gods: Religion in Modern Scotland 1900-2012. Ali Smith took the Saltire Society Literary Book of the Year award home for her novel, How to be Both, described by judges as “an exhilarating read” in which two narratives are linked despite being set centuries apart. Celebrating the emerging talent of first-time authors who have not previously been published, the First Book of the Year award was won by Niall Campbell for his “remarkably powerful first collection” Moontide, which was praised as “one of the most distinctive lyric voices to emerge from Scotland in recent years”.


1113921311400The Saltire Society Publisher of the Year award was introduced in 2013 and is supported by Creative Scotland. Celebrating the vitality and innovation of Scottish-based publishers, this year the award was won by Dingwall-based small enterprise Sandstone Press. The publisher was awarded £4,000 to assist further developments in the company’s business and was recognised for their “enthusiastic pragmatism” and the quality of their editorial work. Sandstone faced strong competition from a shortlist including Backpage Press, Freight, Birlinn, Bright Red and Floris. Executive Director of the Saltire Society Jim Tough praised the shortlisted publishers for showing “[the] creativity and adaptability needed to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace”.

Other awards of the night included the Saltire Society Literary Travel Bursary, supported by the British Council. The award went to St. Andrews University student Lenore Bell, who won a cash prize of £1,500. This prize will fund her research for a novel set in Edwardian Brooklyn in the USA.

Supporting the next generation of academics, the Ross Roy Medal is awarded to the best PhD thesis on a subject relating to Scottish literature. This year’s winner was Stirling University’s very own Barbara Leonardi for her thesis, “An Exploration of Gender Stereotypes in the Work of James Hogg”. Dr Scott Lyall, Chair of the judging panel, commented that “Leonardi’s writing is beautiful, and she shows real conceptual and socio-historical nous in opening up Hogg’s writing to a feminist and postmodern analysis”.

Congratulations to all the winners of the night and thank you to the Saltire Society for celebrating the Scottish imagination, and giving us a fantastic evening!

Aidan Moffat and the Lavender Blue Dress

November 17th, 2014 by Lara Gascón | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Aidan Moffat and the Lavender Blue Dress


On Saturday November 15th, the acclaimed Scottish singer-songwriter Aidan Moffat was in Waterstone’s Bookseller located at Stirling Thistle Marches Shopping Centre as part of the promotional tour of his first children’s book, The Lavender Blue Dress. It has been published by Cargo Publishing in time for Christmas so if you lack of ideas, this books could be a nice present for young children. The book is beautifully crafted with art by award winning illustrator Emmeline Pidgen and a removable double sided dust jacket with a ‘cut out and play’ paper doll. The book also includes a CD with the book read by Aidan and music by Bill.


The event started at 3pm and finished twenty minutes after. Even if it was not the most crowded book launch event I’ve ever attended, Moffat approached the few children that were in the bookstore, getting down to their level by setting on the floor. Then, he started to read the book. The kids listened to him, completely, attentively and in silence. There was a little girl that seemed particularly captivated bythe author’s words; eyes wide open, looking at the illustrations of the book while she played incessantly with the curls of her blond hair.


After the reading, the author got up and went sitting on a chair for signing copies of the book. Most of the people that were queuing were fans that bought the book because they wanted to have the opportunity to talking with the composer. The rest were parents that offered the book to their kids, but also wanted author’s signature and dedication. And the fact is that, as usually happens, the author’s personal brand seams to attract more customers than the book itself.

Even if Aidan Moffat is a long way from celebrities that are launching children’s books with the help of ghost-writers, is undeniable that being previously known as a singer catches the attention of future readers. I myself wanted to know more about what could have been the result of this book after knowing that the author was best known for writing songs about sex, drugs and death. “So please just ignore all the moods and the maybes, lift up your skirt and I’ll fill you with babies”, sings the singer that is writing for kids.

However, Aidan has crafted a sweet and heart-warming tale of family, friendship and the really important things in life. But he didn’t do it alone. Moffat told the media that the story was based on a tale he heard as a child:

The Lavender Blue Dress is a story my grandfather used to tell me and my cousins,” he said. “I used to spend every weekend at my grandparents’ and it was a story he told regularly. A few years ago I wrote it down and put it together as a story which I occasionally read live at gigs. I don’t know where my Papa got the story – I think he made it up. It was very simple and I’ve embellished it a bit.”

The Lavender Blue Dress tells the story of Mabel, a little girl who wants nothing more than a beautiful dress to wear to the Christmas ball. The crux of the story is that the family can’t afford the dress in question so they make it for the girl. As the author explains, it’s very much a story about love, and about love being more important than material items.


You can view the teaser trailer here:


Moffat says that he would like to publish further children’s books if The Lavender Blue Dress is well received, there’s a second one that he has finished and he has ideas for a couple more:

“The second one is about how to cope with your parents arguing, which I can imagine is somethingevery child has to deal with.”

Personally, I really like the moral background of the book. I have always thought that children’s books are a basic tool to teach and reinforce kids’ essential values as sharing, helping, being kind…And as I could confirm, Aidan Moffat can transmit this ideas in a charming piece, with catching and lovely illustrations that bring author’s words to life.

Source: Cowing, Emma, “Arab Strap singer Aidan Moffat pens children’s book”, The Scotsman, http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/books/arab-strap-singer-aidan-moffat-pens-children-s-book-1-3191767, November 17, 2013


Visiting Speaker: Dr Simon Frost, Bournemouth University

November 14th, 2014 by Sarah Boyd | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker: Dr Simon Frost, Bournemouth University

Simon FrostAs an extra addition to the Visiting Speaker series, Dr Simon Frost, Senior Lecturer in English at Bournemouth University, came to talk to us about his current research project. Entitled ‘Private Gains and Retailed Literature: Pathways to a Sustainable-Economic Account of Reading‘ (though Frost pointed out that his subtitle keeps changing!), this ambitious project is being undertaken in association with John Smith’s, the higher-education bookseller familiar to most students for their on-campus shops.

It’s probably worth mentioning at this point that Dr Frost’s project is quite a complex and, in some ways, esoteric one and that it is very much ongoing and developing, so at times it became a little difficult to take on all of the information he was conveying. The seven-and-a-half pages of notes I took during his presentation are testament to this! However, I’ll do my best to cover what he had to say.
First, Dr Frost outlined the aim of his project, to produce a defence of literature (the project is focused on fiction) in economic terms, rather than the cultural terms in which arguments for literature’s value are usually expressed. This was one of the trickier ideas to get our heads around but Frost put it in layman’s terms, saying that he’s trying to find out why a customer would choose to buy books, rather than booze! Essentially, his belief is that pointing to literature’s cultural importance does not mount a strong enough defence for the funding and resources allocated to it and that we require a discussion that engages with the economics of literature in sustainable terms or, in other words, attempts to discover what readers gain from the books they buy in more practical terms.
We then looked at the structure of Frost’s project, which is organised into three ‘threads’:
  • ‘theorisation’ – produce a model of how readers gain from books, bridging the literary and economic by investigating the idea that books meet intangible needs for readers.
  • ‘tuition’ – a number of students will be involved in the research for this project, particularly in compiling the results of an extensive survey, aiming for 750 completed surveys.
  • ‘professional practice’ – working in conjunction with John Smith’s, examine the shift from ‘bookseller’ to ‘book-based supplier of solutions’, in particular the move to provide new services based on outcomes/gains.

John Smith's BooksIn order to explain how he became involved with John Smith’s, Dr Frost gave us a potted pre-history of the current bookselling situation in Britain. John Smith’s has been around since 1751, so it has survived and responded to the major changes that have happened in the bookselling industry over the last several centuries, from the 1899 establishment of the Net Book Agreement (NBA) and its encouragement of dedicated bookstores, to the collapse of the Agreement in the 1990s which led to the downfall of almost all chain booksellers on the British High Street. More recently, the rise of online bookstores (themselves largely a result of the NBA’s collapse) has forced John Smith’s to rethink its business, as Amazon and its ilk have disrupted the traditional tutor-student-campus bookstore relationship. Their response has been to stop thinking of themselves as ‘booksellers’ at all and instead re-brand as a provider of solutions for students and Higher Education (HE) institutions. Indeed, their website is tagged as ‘John Smith’s Student Store’, with no reference to bookshops at all.

In effect, this has resulted in John Smith’s working with HE institutions to provide students with all the resources they need to successfully enter, negotiate and exit higher education. Their Stirling store, for instance, lists 15 departments, providing products from art supplies to bikes, mobile phones to university-branded clothing. They are no longer thinking about how they can sell the most books to students but about how they can meet all the needs that students might have, how they can become the main provider of solutions to students’ demands and problems (as well as aiding HE institutions to meet their outcomes). In this way, their rethinking of their business model fits neatly with Dr Frost’s project, as it relocates books as one part of a service that anticipates and provides everything that students will gain from appropriating. So, a copy of ‘Mrs Dalloway’ is no longer just a tool for education and cultural influence but also a product that can be analysed and quantified in economic terms.

aspireFor the final part of his presentation, Dr Frost went into more detail about how the relationship between students, their HE institutions and this new incarnation of John Smith’s works. An essential part of this is the distribution of bursaries to students in England (introduced as a mitigating response to the raising of tuition fees). Universities receive a sum of money from the government and parcel this out to selected students in bursaries, often around £300, which are intended to widen opportunities for students from low-income backgrounds (and, ideally, to be spent on university-related goods and services, rather than down the pub, though we did have a discussion of whether or not the social environment provided by pubs – and cafes, equally expensive though perhaps less stigmatised – is a valuable part of the university experience!). John Smith’s have become involved in this process via their ‘Aspire‘ smartcard, which can be pre-loaded with the bursary money and limits what it can be spent on. This allows for a number of interesting features, from each card being tailored to its recipient’s needs, to facilitating data gathering and feedback to the institution. Of course, as several members of the class pointed out, this has some moral and legal implications, particularly with regards to privacy (the idea of tutors being able to keep tabs on whether you’ve purchased their reading list or not is more than a little Big Brother!) and this is an area that Dr Frost will be looking into as his study develops. At the moment, though, his main questions in this area are:

  1. Is the diversity of purchasing agency (i.e. those involved in the process of purchasing) now so great that it produces a break from the linear rational-choice model of purchasing?
  2. Do the limits imposed by the ‘Aspire’ model constitute an interruption of free will or free exchange? They limit the convertibility of one resource to another (the bursary can be turned into books or bikes but not beers) but do they also limit free choice? Such limits are common in the public world but how do they function in the semi-commercial and commercial spheres?
It was fascinating to hear about a project still in progress, with Dr Frost acknowledging that he is still in the process of gathering information and developing the theories and concepts that will form his ultimate conclusions. His observation that his ‘inner critic’ was working even as he spoke was one that I – and I’m sure most of us – identified with, but it’s reassuring to know that the pros suffer too. It was also great to feel that he was genuinely interested in our responses and in engaging in conversation with his audience – it’s always encouraging to feel that we’re being taken seriously by people already working! I’ll be interested to see the results of his project and how it shifts and develops as it progresses.

Lectureship in Digital Media and Publishing

November 14th, 2014 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Lectureship in Digital Media and Publishing

We’re very sad to announce that Dr Padmini Ray Murray will be leaving us at Christmas (for a post in India on the teaching faculty at the Centre of Public History at the Srishti School for Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore). We’ll miss her greatly, but we’re sure future collaborations will ensue.

That said, we’re happy to be announcing a vacancy for a Lecturer in Digital Media & Publishing, to teach and research both in the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, and also in our Division of Communications, Media and Culture.

Please do contact our Director, Professor Claire Squires, if you’re interested in informally discussing the role.


Simon Appleby on Digital Marketing

November 10th, 2014 by Jennifer Katherine Hamrick | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Simon Appleby on Digital Marketing

SimonApplebyThe fifth speaker on our Visiting Speaker Series is Simon Appleby, director of Bookswarm—a digital project agency which specialises in the publishing sector.

Simon joined the world of publishing through his self-taught experience and expertise in web development. Originally working for various companies as a project manager in sales, he began teaching himself coding and web creation during the ‘dot com boom’. Working at Lateral, an agency which worked closely with publishers, Simon began to build a strong network within the publishing sector and eventually moved on to Octopus Publishing as Digital Project Manager. There, he became involved in digitally converting print to ebooks and creating apps which acted as digital accompaniments to various print projects. In his spare time, Simon worked in his ‘bat cave’ on creating the online literary magazine BookHugger. Eventually, BookHugger turned into Nudge, a variety of publishing-related websites, and from here, Simon moved on to launch Bookswarm.

Bookswarm offers services such as website design, print design, eBook design, brand creation and development, and author video production to a number of clients including Octopus Publishing Group, Faber, Hodder & Stoughton and Gallic Books.

According to Simon, it is now much easier and cheaper to create websites for digital marketing. Below are some of his tips and tricks for making the most out of digital marketing:

  1. In digital marketing, the creative idea is more important than the technology used to produce it: start by creating goodcontent rather than simply trying to make something viral. Digital marketing is all about making content compelling for your audience.
  2. Many digital marketing sites allow content to be embedded in other areas, including the publisher’s own website; it is simple to keep your sites up-to-date by embedding social media feeds.
  3. It is important to keep up with trends in digital marketing (for example, memes) in order to keep content fresh and appealing.
  4. Think carefully about how you invite reader engagement. You can’t assume foot-traffic or participation which can create gaping holes where you expected content to be.
  5. In a multi-device universe, be aware of the limitations of various user platforms; not all devices have keyboards for example. Also, make sure your sites work with different screen sizes.

Simon highlights some of the following sites as easy-to-use digital marketing platforms and includes unique ways to utilise them:

  1. Twitter— can be used to rejuvenate older content.
  2. Vine— these six-second clips can be used for fun author/title promotions. For instance, Saraband has used Vines to animate their books covers.
  3. Videos (e.g. YouTube)— Simon cautioned us about book trailers because you need to put a lot of thought into their content and execution. Plus, you need to make sure it gets lots of foot-traffic, otherwise it is pointless.
  4. Flickr— a great repository for your visual material.
  5. SoundCloud— an easy place to put up your audio material.
  6. Infogr.am— infographics are easy to create and make content visually appealing.
  7. Creatavist— multi-media project creation and management tool for writers and publishers.
  8. Reddit— social networking service with various online communities.


Simon, who works with many authors in digital marketing, gives the following advice to publishers for author marketing:

  • Be aware of how much your authors want to be involved in online content creation and marketing; some are masters at blogging while others want to be left alone to write their novels.
  • You need to be clear whether you are focusing on promoting the author or their title/series.
  • An author’s website should extend their brand and meet audience expectations.

In terms of publishers’ own websites, Simon suggests the following:

  • First, get a clear idea in your head about what your website’s main function is: is it to sell books? To publicise? Promote? Engage? What?
  • Don’t assume your audience is only concerned with your books; engage with lots of different cultural and trade issues that will extend your brand and invite more interest.
  • Think about where your content will come from: authors, users, social media, ect.
  • Decide whether people can buy products directly from your site or whether you will direct them to other retailers such as Amazon.


Simon’s pathway into publishing not only demonstrates how many diverse roles are needed in publishing, but also shows how essential digital marketing has become in an internet-dominated age. Simon’s message is very positive for those who shy away from technology: there are easy and dynamic ways to engage with digital media and marketing. With great content, you only need to know some online basics to create a fantastic digital marketing campaign.


The Electric Bookshop birthday party

November 5th, 2014 by Paula De Lucas Gudiel | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Electric Bookshop birthday party

B0F7SsXCQAAz8GZOn Thursday, October 16th was the 4th birthday of the Electric Bookshop. They celebrated it with an event in Edinburgh in which attendants could enjoy wine, cupcakes and three wonderful speakers. At the beginning of the evening, the members of the organisation of the Electric bookshop, Claire StewartPeggy Hughes and Padmini Ray Murray, discussed what their favourite moments of the year were. Primarely, for new comers as me, this was very helpful to know more about what they focus on. The organisation holds events to congregate people from various fields: technology, publishing, design and literature. As intimidating as this mixture might sound, they can be proud for having a big participation in their debates.

B0F80beIcAEWLOxThe first speaker to participate was Kate Ho, Managing Director of Interface3, which designs and exciting customer branded experiences using innovative technologies (such as Augmented Reality, Mobile Games). At the moment, Kate Ho is focusing on educational games, and she spoke about her project Stobhill, a 3D interactive experience based on Edwin Morgan’s poem with the same name. The game is set in a scary abandoned hospital that shares the name with the title. The players are supposed to use the audio of three people and their stories related to the building to work on their achievements in the game, and so find about the disturbing plot and terrorific resolution.

B0GG7KPCUAAsKGMThe second speaker who took part in the event wasAlan Trotter. He is a writer from Aberdeen, winner of the Sceptre Prize for emerging writers and currently studying his PhD in University of Glasgow, researching for his project called Bodies of work: unusual uses of the physical form of the book. His work is characteristic for his study on the difference between printed text and text on the screen (HTML). In his participation, he talked about the play with form and this web-experiment he is working on.

The last speaker in the evening was Rob Morgan.Unfortunately, he couldn’t attend the event physically, but when the venue is organised by technology geeks, there’s always a way to sort out difficulties, so we could enjoy of his participation through Skype. Rob Morgan is a game writer, narrative designer and voice director. His participation was about the control and content of the player in a videogame, since this is very different from those in books. Fielectric-logo2rst, he discussed how the player interacts in the game, how he can control the story and the plot, but also how some games don’t give the player any choices to develop the plot in the game. Regarding the content of a game, he also explained how to create characters that the players can be identified with, how to make it exciting and interesting so the player can work on the development of the character, since he is the one in control of the storyline in the videogame.

This event clearly brought together different fields that, actually, work together most of the times. At the same time, it also was enlightening to learn more about how technology, set in the modern world, and literature, existing since ancient ages, come along so well together.


Marion Sinclair, Publishing Scotland

November 4th, 2014 by Emma Margaret Brown | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Marion Sinclair, Publishing Scotland

The fourth speaker to come and visit us this year was Marion Sinclair, Chief Executive of Publishing Scotland.

Marion Sinclair

She spoke to us about the overall state of publishing in Scotland and shared her perspective on the future of the publishing industry. She also shared a few stories about some of her early experiences working in the publishing industry. After graduating from the University of Stirling from this very same Publishing course (albeit, by her own admission, a number of years ago!), Marion’s journey in publishing began in a bookstore in Glasgow. One of her tasks was to sandpaper and polish down the covers of books that were to be returned to the publishers. Not exactly a glamourous start to a career! Yet Marion moved on from there to become one of the most prominent figures in Scottish publishing. Marion’s attitude towards publishing was wholly positive, telling us that by being on the MLitt we “are doing the right thing to get into publishing”.

After sharing some of her own experiences, Marion spoke about where Scotland currently stands within the larger publishing world. Marion shared that the Scottish Publishing industry is worth somewhere in the region of £350m, which, to help put this number in context, is the same value as the cashmere and smoked salmon industries. She stated that around 3,000 new books are published each year in Scotland alone, not including reprints or new editions. Publishing Scotland employs around 1,700 people directly and employs countless others indirectly. It should be noted here that these figures are rough estimates as trying to get the actual statistics on creative industries in Scotland is rather difficult. This difficulty is due to the very nature of the publishing industry, along with the problem of defining what counts as a publisher and what does not.

On the subject of publishing in Scotland, Marion shared that the very nature of Scottish publishing is that it is a niche market. But does this status as a niche market mean that if you publish in Scotland you need to identify as a Scottish publisher? It seems as though many of the larger houses avoid Scotland for this reason. Marion spoke about how there seems to be a pull towards London: many authors are drawn south sooner or later and major names in Scottish publishing sometimes leave to join the larger houses. Marion also mentioned the ongoing debate of whether being labelled as a ‘Scottish’ publisher is a good or a bad thing; it seems that the label can have both positive and negative effects for publishers. But as Marion said in her presentation, publishing has become a part of Scottish culture, particularly in Edinburgh, where “print and publishing go hand in hand”. The sheer size and volume of participants in the Edinburgh International Book Festival (to name just one of the many festivals which takes place each year) is a testament to Scotland’s strength and determination to remain prominent in the industry. Publishing Scotland is there to help Scottish publishers stay on track and continue to thrive.

Publishing Scotland turns 40 this year!

Speaking about Publishing Scotland, Marion explained that the organisation is there to support the “professional practice of publishing in Scotland”. With the help of Creative Scotland, Publishing Scotland is able to support a number of publishers of different sizes to ensure their on-going success. Publishing Scotland enables publishers to carry on with their work as they are supported and guided by a larger umbrella organisation that has the interests of the publishers at its heart. It is important to note that Publishing Scotland itself is not a literary organisation but a publishing members’ association. The organisation is there to support and encourage publishers.

The message that Marion left us with was, on the whole, a very positive one. Her outlook on publishing (not only in Scotland but worldwide) is that the industry is looking up. She said that while it can be difficult to get into, this is a very exciting time to be entering the industry. She encouraged us all to jump in and get involved in any way we can and to embrace any opportunity that comes along.

Employability and Publishing

November 4th, 2014 by Alec Spencer | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Employability and Publishing

Illustration by John Griffiths

Illustration by John Griffiths in Penguins Progress 1935-1960    Penguin Books Ltd., September 1960

Alec Spencer, from our MRes in Publishing Studies, considers employability questions:

It seems to me, probably as it does to many observers and those within the publishing industry, that the publishing industry is in a period of massive change. The new technologies are impacting in many ways, and in ways still to be discovered. Were I to be a publisher, I would be only too well aware of the Henry Ford aphorism “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got”. Doing things the same way as in the past must surely lead to stagnation and extinction.

As someone not really contemplating a further career, I thought I might reflect on what an employer or recruiter is really looking for. While I would obviously want applicants to have the basic skills and competencies (skill set) required in the industry, what I would require is someone with flair, imagination and drive to take my company forward. In the end, an employer wants his or her company to be successful and make profit. To do so, the employee has to add value.

In an environment where there is competition for employment, employers can take their pick. From what I have said it is clear that simply having the requisite skill set may not be sufficient to propel the applicant into a job. In addition to luck or happenstance I would suggest that four things are required: First, the applicant has already shown flair and imagination in broadening their interests and skills, that they have additional ‘new’ skills in new technologies and new media (e.g. they can blog). Second, they can achieve, so that in addition to their academic and vocational successes, they can demonstrate achievement – that they have already done something of value (e.g. have a well established and well followed blog, developed a web-site, published something of their own). Third, they can demonstrate an energy which shows their drive and enthusiasm. It would be good to example an activity undertaken with passion which has a positive outcome. Finally, they have the capacity to translate this into an enticing application letter and CV.

As in good writing, or when meeting someone, it is the first few moments that have the highest impact. The short application letter must transmit the energy, accomplishments, and the potential for added value that the candidate brings.


Adrian Searle from Freight Books paid us a visit

October 21st, 2014 by Marit Mathisen | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Adrian Searle from Freight Books paid us a visit

The third person on the Visiting Speaker programme was Adrian Searle, publisher at Freight Books and director of Freight Design.

He gave us his view on publishing, delivering a humorous and informative presentation, as well as some insight into Freight Books and its perspective on publishing.

Having a diverse background, with experience from advertising and design, as well as having studied Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, it should come as no surprise that Searle has diverse knowledge of and expertise in the field of publishing. He co-founded Freight Design in 2001 and in 2011 Freight Books found its way into the world, picking up an impressive number of shortlistings for a fairly small publisher. These include the Saltire First Book Awards, the Saltire Scottish Publisher of the Year 2013 and 2014, and UK Drum Design Award. Searle does not let that go to his head though, stating that “one man’s Booker Prize is another man’s doorstop”. He equates book publishing to gambling, alluding to Dostoevsky and his view on gambling – if you do it once and win, it is easier to become addicted. He also made it clear that there are other businesses where you could earn money more easily, in his case design, but he finds publishing to be more fun, saying “I love publishing”.

101-uses-of-a-dead-kindle-2_270One of the titles released by Freight Books is 101 Uses of a Dead Kindle, written by Adrian, with illustrations by Judith Hastie. The title is a play on the title of a book released in the late 80s, 101 Uses of a Dead Cat, by Simon Bond. They had high hopes for the title, and a retailer had ordered a large number of copies. Unfortunately, this was a real life example of the sale or return policy followed in the book trade, as almost all the books were sent back by the retailer, with Adrian having seen only one copy in one of their shops.

What happened with 101 Uses of a Dead Kindle has not put Freight Books off publishing humoristic titles, however, with If Dogs Could Swear reuniting Adrian and Judith for a second time. Simple, but effective, and, according to Adrian, if you add a content advisory label on the front it will induce more people to buy the title! Other humour books in the works for Freight Books are Throne of Games and Cyclists: A Spotters Guide.

Adrian also talked about risk, saying that publishing is all about risk, alluding back to the gambling analogy. He said that when you publish a book you want to lower the risk to the reader, making them think at first glance that the book you are selling is worth their time. He also explained some of the ways in which this can be achieved. This ties in with the content advisory on If Dogs Could Swear but he specifically mentioned endorsements by famous people, or quotes by people in general. According to him the fact that someone other than the publisher says a book is good makes the reader more likely to purchase that title. Another thing to use in promoting books is any prize nominations and wins the book has received. Both the quote and the prize nomination will give the book more credibility than the book would have on its own.

Freight Books also publish Gutter, a magazine published twice a year, with short stories and poetry from writers with ties to Scotland. As poetry and short story anthologies are fewer and further between than the people who write them, this is a good place for writers to try to get their work out to readers. Their Scottish point of view underlines Adrian’s contention that “London is the Death Star” (for publishers). He says that anything coming from outside of London is viewed as provincial, and explains that Freight Books is sometimes asked to remove “Scotland” or “Scottish” from their advance sales information.

Adrian Searle is the type of person who gets a lot said in little time, and hearing him speak so enthusiastically about his work, while still cautioning that it is hard work, was interesting and enlightening. The fact that he still says he loves publishing is encouraging, as it shows staying power – even for someone with his diverse background. Freight Press’s achievements in a very short time are impressive, and we can only wait to see what more might come from their small office in Glasgow.



Behind the Digital Scenes at Faber & Faber

October 17th, 2014 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Behind the Digital Scenes at Faber & Faber

FFAs the incredibly honoured 2013 winner of the Faber & Faber prize for Digital Innovation, I travelled down to London for an incredible two-day tour behind the digital scenes at Faber.

I visited three amazing departments with digital publishing at their core: Digital, Faber Factory and Marketing. And what was surprising was how digital was intrinsic to each, and yet, they were completely different.

The Digital department made the nerdish inner me very happy. Running through Faber’s app history, from the innovative The Waste Land app through its infamous Malcom Tucker and stunning Shakespeare apps, we arrived at its newest release The Animator’s Survival Kit. Faber took the teaching aid for animation and cartoon drawing by renowned artist Richard Williams and translated it into a digital format as only it could, once again breaking the mould for digital. The Survival Kit uses digital to teach, introducing features that add to the text, such as controllable animation sequences to see frame-by-frame movement, grasping a truth that not many understand: digital cannot simply be a copy of a paper product. The best bit, however, was when I got the chance to give feedback on the digital brief for an upcoming app… very exciting.

Suitably geared up from a morning in apps, I moved on to find out more about Faber Factory and its digital services for publishers. I was a starstruck in a different way, as I’d seen Faber Factory, one of the driving forces in the UK behind digitalisation among the smaller publishers, first-hand in my internship and repeatedly in my digital-focused dissertation. While gains of digital can be immense, the cost is prohibitive for small publishers, and increasingly large players in the market leave little room. And that is where the incredibly enthusiastic Factory team come in, managing, converting, and negotiating on behalf of their clients. I had a great time finding out more on what they did, and left very much convinced that one of the very few publishers offering services is doing it right.

A screenshot from Claire Jeffery’s prize-winning Jekyll & Hyde app

A screenshot from Claire Jeffery’s prize-winning Jekyll & Hyde app

The next day I ventured further up the stairs to find out more about digital marketing. I’ll admit I expected to hear the usual vague buzzwords: ‘social media’, ‘online presence’, ‘SEOs’, etc. So when I actually arrived at the department it was refreshing to discover more about digital marketing beyond social media and videos. I saw how the traditional eclectic Faber was balanced with a new digital approach based on big data. Faber is one of the publishers just beginning to explore big data and it is amazing how much can be revealed. A search for my favourite author Jasper Fforde revealed key phrases, new releases, who was talking about him, which websites they visited… It was incredible and showed the impact that digital innovation is having on marketing. What I appreciated in my visit to marketing in Faber was the shift to a targeted approach based on statistics and information with the same heart and passion underneath, exactly as I’d always thought the process should be.

I saw three different sides to digital in my visit, each different and each needed. But what also really struck me was how, in little under a year through the Publishing Studies course at the University of Stirling, I’d gone from knowing a little about the publishing process to having a in-depth understanding not only of traditional publishing but also of the challenges and opportunities of digital publishing. I found myself debating all sorts of related issues with very passionate people and that was what struck me. To get into publishing you have to be absolutely passionate for what you want do. Every comma in every book, every new innovation, every campaign and every interaction along the chain is driven by people who care deeply about publishing.

On a personal note, there are a couple of things I will take away from this.

(1) Always say yes to a free book.

(2) There is only one way a literary trip to London should end: an Agatha Christie play, a visit to Baker Street and the exploration of many bookshops.

(3) Be completely and utterly passionate in everything you do.

I’d like to thank all the people from the University of Stirling and Faber & Faber who made the trip possible and everyone on the two-day tour who were so welcoming and encouraging.

Claire Jeffery now works at Prepress Projects in Perth.




Little Films – are book trailers a crime against imagination?

October 15th, 2014 by Miriam Owen | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Little Films – are book trailers a crime against imagination?

Recently there seems to be a trend, particularly shared on social media and at book festivals, of authors having book trailers/book videos. What is the purpose of a book trailer? Initially, on the surface it would appear to bring the flavour of a book to the attention of readers but they also promote the author’s name and perhaps highlight the name of the publisher. If a book trailer does this then it may be helping to keep readers active whilst allowing the medium of books a link to the ever growing reliance on video and visual imagery, particularly online and hence helping to keep the medium of books fresh and current. Do they pique your interest when you see them? They have been around for a while but seem to be becoming a bit more main stream now and of course they fit in nicely with the increased use of social media for marketing and promotion. Here is a slick example from 2009 for James Ellroy’s book Blood’s a Rover.

I recently watched one book trailer that actually put me off buying a book I may have otherwise bought. The trailer looked too violent for me. However, I have seen others for books I probably wouldn’t have considered buying but may now pick up if I see them on sale. Author David Hewson’s (The Killing) book trailer for his new work published by Pan Macmillan ‘The House of Dolls’ was shown as part of a presentation he gave at Nordicana in London this year and I am sure will be shown at most of the author’s appearances at book festivals around the world, a pleasing visual treat at the end of a more spoken word based event:

There seems to be quite a lot of variety with the trailers. Some promote the writer more than the book, others have very obvious music and may also promote a song by a particular band in a similar way that car companies have done with TV commercials in recent years. Some are very atmospheric and it is unclear if the trailer is for a film or a book until the very end, others use a large amount of text and the link to a book is fairly obvious. Some feature the author reading. Some mention rave reviews of the actual book similar to what you may see on posters and signs in bookstores such as this one.  Some trailers are quite long and some are brief. Readers may recognise the Scottish location of this trailer.

Then you have this which is a unique collaboration between publishers, authors, artists and record labels.  A song and a book released on the same day. Publishers asked Anton Axélo to write a song to go with a book and he came up with ‘Three hundred and sixty-five.’  The song was inspired by ‘Black Dawn’, the third book in a mystery thriller series of books sold in 27 countries. The books are written by Swedish crime fiction veterans Cilla and Rolf Börjlind.   Cilla and Rolf Börjlind have previously written screenplays for cinema and television of the Martin Beck series by Sjowall & Wahloo and also writing for the Arne Dahl’s A-group series and working on Wallander. In 2004 and 2009 Swedish television showed their crime series The Grave and The Murders, written directly for SVT. These shows were an immediate success with critics as well as with the audience.

Jo Nesbo has quite a few book trailers such as this and this.  You may notice some similarities in style with Nesbo’s book trailers.  In terms of branding and publicity he is a great example in the industry and has great consistency in terms of book covers, publicity material and personal branding giving him a strong presence in the crime fiction genre.  I would love to meet his marketing and PR people one day and discuss their work!

Book trailers can be inserted into websites.  Australian publishers Allen & Unwin use them in their online shop particularly in the kids and young readers sections.  They are used in education particularly to encourage reluctant readers to engage with books and literary promotion projects such as World Book Day use them to appeal to children on their website.

The flip side however is to ask if book trailers remove part of the imaginative process? Do they hint at the desperation of the publishing world to drag itself into the 21st century?  Does using a moving image intertwine comfortably with the written word? Personally I am a fan of a visual image although I have to admit to being the kind of person who likes to read the book before seeing anything at all. Some people need a visual spark to be encouraged in their literary exploration. If trailers encourage people to pick up books then I think they serve their purpose however if they encourage people to bypass the book and wait for the movie then I am not so sure.

Miriam V Owen


Visiting speaker: John Innes – Think Publishing.

October 15th, 2014 by Heather Margaret McDaid | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting speaker: John Innes – Think Publishing.

Whale Dolphin Conservation“We want to create content that connects with the reader, and has its own aims and objectives,” says John Innes, associate director of Think Publishing, the second of the MLitt’s visiting speakers for 2014-15. Heather McDaid reports:

The company currently has 58 staff, 38 clients and 45 titles they handle, with 4.5 million copies per year printed. But it’s not just content creation they handle; as with any competitive company within publishing they offer a full service to meet their clients’ needs. This can range from editorial and design, advertising and research, to finance account management.

Just like the service they provide, their client base is broad and varied. Publications include Historic Scotland and CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), as well as Whale & Dolphin. Though there’s a stark contrast in some of the content, Innes notes there are lots of similarities in dealing with membership magazines that makes it easier.

“We need latitude to make it look interesting,” he notes, explaining that it’s hard to work within a rigid brand. To avoid it looking like a corporate brochure, they need to evolve the publication to keep it interesting for readers. He deems it “Brand+” – they take the basic brand and add to it to create a better product.

In order to do that, he continues, they need to satisfy all three of their customers without encroaching on another – the client, the reader and the advertisers.

“Every issue we produce should be better than the last” in at least one way, and they use workshops heavily in order to meet the client’s needs while creating a quality product. This goes beyond a mere print publication at times, with digital content being generated for almost every client, from extracts to video content. People are platform agnostic, he adds, but it’s still important to make each one functional and appealing.

With this digital age, there is one key issue: “there is no such thing as news in an internet environment”, instead they’ll try generate interviews and analysis, not “news that happened last week”. In a world where information is available instantaneously, print publications can’t compete.

But what about those who would like to work with Think Publishing? “The best question to ask is ‘why?'”, says Innes. They need people not only with an interest in their work, but the ability to ask why they do certain things, why competitors do certain things, and whether that’s something they should consider. They need people who want to make the publications better and more interesting, and encourage people to look into their internships if it sounds something they feel they’d be suited for.


Booksource: Not the sexy side of publishing, but the most important

October 10th, 2014 by Heather Margaret McDaid | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Booksource: Not the sexy side of publishing, but the most important


Heather McDaid reports on a class trip to book distributor Booksource:

One of the first things you’re told when you arrive at Booksource by Davinder Bedi, managing director, is that the distribution end of the publishing chain may not be the sexy end of the scale, where you craft the content and look of a product, but it is the most important. You could have the most amazing product in the world, but it’s worth nothing if it can’t reach the consumer.

It almost comes out of a book lover’s dream to wander in a building that houses 3.42 million books, but they’re mere units when you view it from a business perspective. This has almost halved in the last few years from 7.6 million; it isn’t a drop in business but indicative of industry changes. Publishers don’t house as much stock now Print On Demand exists, meaning that books can still fly of the shelves sales-wise, but not be sitting around waiting in a warehouse. It limits the risk of overprinting to quite so extreme proportions.

Booksource is different in a way because it doesn’t shy away from self-publishers or independent publishers; in fact, it seems to thrive from them. If they can sell, then they have a place. It’s a key part of their formation, as they’ve grown from 8 publishers to just under 70 using their services – which go far beyond merely sending out books. As one story featuring a football legend proved – you could go out and sell your books yourself, but you need a company like Booksource to both shift their books in bulk and get them into major stores like Waterstones, with their responsibilities constantly evolving to offer the best service possible.

An informative day that gave a broad insight into a side of publishing we’d yet to see. Working in line with Publishing Scotland, Booksource’s ethos is ‘profit with perspective’, which seems a relatively different idea, but ultimately their aim is to simply help publishers do business. So, all in all, an interesting afternoon well spent!


The First in Our Visiting Speakers Series, 2014-15

October 7th, 2014 by Kiley Pole | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The First in Our Visiting Speakers Series, 2014-15

On Thursday October 2, we had the first in our visiting speakers series. Chani McBain, Leah McDowell and Nadia Suchdev provided us with a plethora of information on not only their specified topics but also their experiences in the publishing industry.

To start the session off Leah McDowell and Nadia Suchdev introduced us to the Society of Young Publishers Scotland (SYP). We learned how the organization is run by volunteers with the aim to help and inform those who have been in the publishing business for less than 10 years, or those like us who are attempting to break into the business. SYP Scotland offers different events and workshops available to members (to become a member it costs £24 per annum) that help put their name out there and start the all dreaded networking. Included in the membership is free entry to all events, a newsletter, job bulletins, discounted tickets to the annual SYP Conference and participation in the mentoring programme.

Some of upcoming events include, “How to network for those who hate networking” on October 23rd and the Booksellers Panel Event on November 19th.

Leah and Nadia also encouraged us to not only join, but apply to become committee members. As a member of the committee you would have a hand in putting on the events throughout the year that really help people.

You can find them on Facebook SYP Scotland and on Twitter @SYPscotland.

Chani McBain spoke to us about Floris Books and more specifically the internship available from them. She gave us some useful advice about using our time in the course to make those connections and getting a lot of different experience in the different fields of publishing. Her main tagline about internships being that we might be wrong. In our heart of hearts we may think we are meant to be editors when in reality we are best suited for production or marketing, that really we could love a field that we never thought possible.

The internship at Floris Books is one day a week (which day that is they are flexible and willing to work with us) in a “marketing focused” capacity. That does not mean that the intern (one this semester and one next) will solely be stuffing envelops, although that is part of it, but that they will be working on press releases, marketing briefs, and flyers to name a few. Since Floris Books is a small company, composing of 11 employees, the interns will have the opportunity to witness and be part of many small projects and get to see the whole publishing process.

What Floris lacks in number of employees they make up for in their plethora of teas to chose from.

These three ladies gave us lots of useful advice, stemming from their experiences as newcomers to the industry and from when they were students as well. Namely, that internships are good, if not essential in getting to know the business as well as getting to know yourself. Are you really an editor? Or, are you a literary agent? This is our industry, it pays to become involved. Take advantage of every opportunity, not just internships but events, panels, book and literary festivals. And, when it comes dissertation time, choose a topic that is useful, something that not only will inform you about the industry but something that is geared to the type of job you want.


My Weekend with Bloody Scotland

October 3rd, 2014 by Kena Nicole Longabaugh | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on My Weekend with Bloody Scotland


Lovers of crime writing had a wonderful weekend in Stirling as the Bloody Scotland festival made its mark on the city for the third year. Featuring authors like Ian Rankin, Kathy Reichs, Sharon Bolton and David Hewson, the festival was a great opportunity for readers to engage with their favorite crime writers and hear interesting (and sometimes hilarious) talks about everything from the writing process and getting published to the independence referendum and feminist protagonists. Along with these entertaining talks, the weekend featured interactive events for festival-goers, including a re-enactment of a serial killer’s trial and a crime scene investigation at Stirling Castle.

When I heard about the opportunity to volunteer at the festival, I immediately submitted an application–and I’m so glad I did! It was a fun and informative weekend where I was able to experience first hand the behind-the-scenes workings of a major literary festival. Moreover, attending the event made me realise how festivals like Bloody Scotland provide important marketing opportunities for publishers and their authors.

I was assigned to work in Albert Halls, a beautiful venue near the center of town. My main tasks included setting up the hall before an event, directing audience members to their seats, answering questions from attendees and assisting with author signings. One of the major perks of volunteering was the ability to sit in during author talks–I was lucky enough to sit in on two events. The first was between authors Sharon Bolton, Julia Crouch and Helen Fitzgerald and the second between David Hewson and Peter Robinson. Both sessions were highly entertaining and provided insight into the life of authors and the writing process. Of particular interest to me as a publishing student, author Sharon Bolton discussed the complex relationship she has with her editor; she described the feelings of frustration she gets when her editor sends back notes longer than her original manuscript, but conceded that in the end her editor plays an integral role in producing the best book possible. In a time when some are questioning the necessity of publishers, it was reassuring to hear an author recognize and praise the fundamental role of the editor.

For me, Bloody Scotland provided valuable insight as a publishing student and delightful entertainment as a book lover. I look forward to attending again in the future!


Volunteering at Bloody Scotland (2014)

October 3rd, 2014 by Jennifer Katherine Hamrick | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Volunteering at Bloody Scotland (2014)

Bloody Scotland Info Desk

Working the Info Desk

I volunteered for the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival (which took place September 19th-21st) and got to experience the behind-the-scenes work of a major literary event. The amount of effort it requires to keep everything moving smoothly — from helping guests to setting up tech equipment to carting around boxes of books — is astonishing; and that’s just what the volunteers were doing! Staff and festival managers were running around directing author panels and coordinating volunteer efforts while still managing to keep big smiles on their faces.

One of the things I noticed quickly about the festival was how close-knit this crime-fiction community was. The guests that I spoke with were all avid readers of crime fiction and were familiar with many, if not all, of the authors’ works. Unlike many other genres, there didn’t seem to be a gender imbalance in the crime community; just as many men attended as women. It was very obvious from the types of books being presented that this genre has a lot of room for diversity as well as a very well-defined market niche.

From my experience attending book festivals in Texas, I was surprised that most of the author panels cost money to attend. It is common for American book festivals to be open and free for audience members and to cover costs by relying solely on corporate sponsorship and souvenir sales. In many ways, I think Bloody Scotland missed out on reaching a wider audience by charging guests to see author panels; I think people who might be interested in learning more about crime fiction, but aren’t familiar with certain authors, might be dissuaded from attending because of high prices.

Overall, Bloody Scotland succeeded in connecting authors with their readers and promoting new works to those who are always looking for the next crime to solve. For me, getting to meet the wonderful staff and volunteers as well as listen in on a few author panels was an amazing opportunity. I would highly recommend that anyone interested in learning more about book promotion and marketing strategies volunteer at a book festival; the experience is well worth it.


Visiting Speakers for Semester 1, 2014-15

October 2nd, 2014 by Frances_Sessford | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speakers for Semester 1, 2014-15

Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication hosts another varied line-up of speakers from the publishing industry this semester. Our programme begins on October 2 with Chani McBain, Sales & Marketing Manager and Leah McDowell, Design & Production Manager at Floris Books. Leah will also be representing the Society of Young Publishers and will be informing new students of the opportunities for networking and career development which are available through SYP membership.

On October 9 we welcome John Innes, Director at Glasgow-based Think Publishing, a large consumer publishing company, followed by one of our Industry Advisory Board members and Publisher at Freight Books, Adrian Searle on October 16. The programme for the first half of the semester closes on October 23 with regular guest Marion Sinclair, CEO of Publishing Scotland and course alumna.

The programme resumes on November 6 with Simon Appleby, Director at Bookswarm , digital project management specialists and is followed on November 13 by another regular guest, literary agent Lindsey Fraser of Fraser Ross Associates. On November 20 we are delighted to welcome leading Glasgow-based author Zoe Strachan who will give the author’s perspective on the publishing industry, followed by our final speaker on December 4, Dr Samantha Rayner, Director of the Centre for Publishing at University College London, who will share her research with the audience.

Attendance at all visiting speaker sessions is free but space is limited so please register by emailing frances.sessford@stir.ac.uk to book a place.

Welcome to the Class of 2014-15

September 25th, 2014 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Welcome to the Class of 2014-15

Publishing Studies Students 2014-15 Last week, we welcomed our MLitt and MRes in Publishing Studies students to the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication.

We have students who have come to study with us from all over the world: Andorra, Canada, China, England, Ghana, Kenya, Norway, Spain, Uganda, the US and, of course, Scotland.

We look forward to working with them all over the forthcoming year!


Bloody Scotland 2014 Programme Launch

June 8th, 2014 by Stevie Marsden | Posted in Blog | Comments Offon Bloody Scotland 2014 Programme Launch


photo (10)Stevie Marsden reports on the launch of this year’s Bloody Scotland festival:

Wednesday 4th June saw the launch of the third Bloody Scotland festival, Scotland’s first and only literary festival dedicated to celebrating crime fiction from all over the world, which will take place from Friday 19thto Sunday 21st of September this year.  The intimate lunch time unveiling of this year’s programme was held at Tolbooth, Stirling where Dom Hastings, the festival manager, commented on the diversity of the festival’s proceedings with events ranging from live talks from best-selling and world-renowned crime writers Ian Rankin and Kathy Reichs, to a discussion about the representation of women in crime fiction hosted by the Glasgow Women’s Library and a play re-enacting the trial of notorious serial killer Peter Manual to be held in the fitting setting of Stirling Sheriff Court.

As well as putting together a fantastic programme every year, which not only promotes Scotland’s extraordinary love for crime writing but also encourages crime fiction lovers from all over the world to visit Stirling, one of Scotland’s most historic (and haunted!) cities, the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing festival is unique in that it actively encourages crime fiction fans to become creators of crime fiction.

Since its conception, Bloody Scotland has had a strong commitment to finding and promoting the next generation of crime writers.  Even before the festival programme was launched, the Bloody Scotland Short Story Competition was open for submissions.  This competition – the winner of which receives £1,000 and a
weekend pass to the   festival – is open to all previously unpublished writers from all over the world. short story compI’m lucky enough to help in the co-ordination of the competition, and it’s really exciting to see undiscovered authors get the opportunity to have their work read by a worldwide audience; last year’s winner was US writer Mindy Quigley who won a landslide public vote for her story ‘The Best Dish’.


Not content with inviting the world’s crime-lit-enthusiasts to try their hand at writing short fiction, the festival weekend opens with a day of Crime Writing Masterclasses held at the MacRobert Arts Centre at the University of Stirling on Friday 19th September.  The day is full of enlightening and insightful workshops, allowing budding crime writers to spend time refining their writing skills under the guidance of best-selling authors and experts in the publishing field.  This year’s line-up of writers and publishers includes Christopher Broomkyre, Helen Sedgwick, Craig Robertson and Sara Hunt to name but a few!

As if all this wasn’t enough, Bloody Scotland also holds its annual ‘Pitch Perfect’ event on Sunday 21st September.  Sponsored by the Open University Scotland, this competition allows aspiring novelists to pitch their idea to a panel of publishers for the chance to gain invaluable feedback from experts in the field.  This year’s panel includes Alison Hennessey, Senior Crime Editor at Harvill Secker, Krystyna Green, Editorial Director for Constable & Robinson crime fiction and Tricia Jackson, Editorial Director at Pan MacMillan.  Last year’s ‘Pitch Perfect’ event was brilliant, and it was fascinating to hear some of the ideas for (as yet!) unpublished work and the feedback that the specialists in the field had to offer.

What all of these events show is that the Bloody Scotland festival is not just an amazing opportunity for readers and writers to come together in a celebration of all things crime-lit related, but it is also a brilliant occasion dedicated to inspiring the next cohort of  crime writers.  Bloody Scotland, along with the University of Stirling’s Creative Writingteam, the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication and Open University Scotland, actively encourages attendees to get involved in crime writing, arguably making Bloody Scotland one of the most inspiring literary festivals in the world.





By the Book: thoughts on the conference

June 2nd, 2014 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | 1 Comment 

Rachel Noorda, PhD researcher in the Stirling Centre for International Publishing & Communication, reports on attending the By the Book conference in Florence:

Rachel Noorda presenting her paper

Rachel Noorda presenting her paper

I had the great pleasure of attending and presenting at the “By the Book” publishing studies conference which was jointly organised by Benoît Berthou (Sorbonne Paris Cité University), Miha Kovač (University of Ljubljana) and Angus Phillips (Oxford Brookes University) and held on May 23 and 24. The conference location was beautiful—and it was my first time to Italy—but the best part was listening to the exciting research that is taking place internationally in the publishing studies field. The conference brought researchers from the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Croatia, Lithuania and even South Africa. The focus of the conference was “the book and the study of its digital transformation” but the presenters approached this wide topic from various angles relating to their own experiences in publishing and academic areas of expertise.

This was my first experience presenting a paper at an academic conference. It was a perfect conference to be my first because it was small and intimate, with researchers who were all interested in publishing. I spoke about books as souvenirs, using data I collected from observing the bookselling practices of gift shops at heritage sites in Scotland, particularly those sites run by Historic Scotland.

Stevie Mardsen, fellow PhD Publishing Studies student from the University of Stirling, also presentedFlorence at the “By the Book” conference. Not only was her presentation stellar, but it was comforting to have a friend at the conference right from the beginning. Stevie’s PhD research is focused on the Saltire Society’s literary book awards and so her presentation addressed the importance to some judges to have a physical copy of the book for judging and how this affects the judging process.

All in all, a wonderful experience! There was talk at the end of the conference about holding a similar conference next year, and if so, I will certainly be in attendance.


Interning at Freight Books

June 1st, 2014 by Clemence Moulaert | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Interning at Freight Books

During my second semester as a student of the MLitt Publishing programme I chose to take the Publishing In The Workplace module. Publishing students hear this time and again: your best chance of working in the publishing industry is to get an internship and, well, work in the publishing industry. After applying to various publishers in Scotland I was fortunate to be offered a part-time editorial internship at Freight Books.

LookupGlasgowPocket_270.270A fairly new imprint of Freight Design, one of Scotland’s leading communications consultancies, Freight Books focuses on publishing ‘high quality fiction for an English-speaking readership’ and also produces Gutter magazine for new fiction.

My email correspondence with Robbie Guillory, Assistant Publisher, was surprisingly informal, and the welcome I received on my first day at the office was much the same: the small team, no larger than a dozen people, was friendly and inviting; there reigns a quaint, café-like atmosphere in the office, which is located on the third floor of an old building in Glasgow’s Merchant City. On the second floor landing a painted sign on the wall says ‘Keep going, gas masks will be provided at the top’. Panting, I made it to the top floor. ‘Where’s my gas mask?’ I asked Robbie, who laughed.

My first task was both simple and terrifying: I was handed a freshly printed typescript and asked to copy-edit it. I was given a sheet with proofreading marks and the Freight Books style sheet, then left to my own devices. Gradually the nerves subsided (‘What if I ruin this beautiful typescript and they hate me and make me leave?!’) and I began to really enjoy myself.


Over the course of nine weeks I copy-edited typescripts, read through the slushpile to pick out the ‘wows’ from the ‘mehs’, bonded with Archie, the office dog, prepared a couple of author contracts and wrote a few introductory lines for an upcoming publication. Not once was I asked to make coffee (but I was frequently asked if I wanted a cuppa, which is always nice).

The most exciting part of this internship was to look at the AIs (Advance Information sheets) and see a couple of titles in there that I copy-edited. In a few months’ time I will walk into a bookshop and those books will be there on the shelf. And I’ll have the privilege of saying I was part of the fantastic team that made them happen.

The experience I gained from this internship will reflect on my CV and, most importantly, I gained heaps of confidence and feel enthusiastic about applying for jobs in the Scottish publishing industry.

(photo credit: Freight Books)


Showcasing our Publishing Projects

May 19th, 2014 by Amalia Koulakioti | Posted in Blog | 1 Comment 

After months of struggling with our publishing projects and various other assignments, it was only fair to celebrate the end of the year by showcasing our work.

And by drinking good wine and socialising of course!

The day started with a Round Table on Publishing Research, including PhD and MRes Publishing students like Maxine Branagh, Paul Docherty, Carol Mango, Rachel Noorda, Anna Kiernan, Stevie Marsden and Louisa Preston, who gave a talk about their respective fields of expertise and about the projects they are undertaking.

The Round Table was chaired by Claire Squires, Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication.

Afterwards we had the chance to admire our publishing projects, while inspirational talks by our peers, Liam Crouse and Laura Jones and by Christoph Chesher were the finishing touch to a delightful day.

 My IMG_2442project is an illustrated collection of my fantasy fiction short stories, titled ‘Tales from the Moon’.

Keisha‘s project is a humorous approach on the teacher’s life and on various funny incidents that could happen inside a classroom.IMG_2432


Alexis project is a compilation of her ‘macabre’ poetry, which contains elements from an anatomy lecture!IMG_2435

Ana created a children’s book in Braille, with riddles that rhyme and with illustrations as the answers.IMG_2438

Fanny, paid a tribute to her beloved Jane Austen by creating an illustrated anthology of the ‘romances the acclaimed author never wrote’.


Aija demonstrated with her project how you can fight post natal depression through the photographic lens.IMG_2450

IMG_2452Clem’s project is a First World War romance novel, written by her, while Laura (Jones) put together a literary tattoo project, full of wonderful pictures.IMG_2456

Jana developed her project as an app; a children’s book about the Arthurian legends.IMG_2460

IMG_2464Rosie created a children’s book as well, one full of flowers and bees!

Min wrote and published poems about autumn, while Lim created a delicious cookery book with Chinese recipes.IMG_2468


IMG_2471Monidipa developed a web magazine about fantasy and sci-fi fiction and Liam created an app with Gaelic poetry.IMG_2474

Vidhya’s project is a travel book about her hometown, Chennai in India.


IMG_2481Laura (Muir), developed a web magazine about tattoos, and lastly Dana created a children’s book starring the most iconic detective of all times, Sherlock Holmes!IMG_2483


Scottish Publishing and Independence

May 14th, 2014 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Scottish Publishing and Independence

Scottish publishing and independenceSarah Boyd, an MLitt in Publishing Studies student at Stirling, has just had an article on ‘Scottish Publishing and Independence’ published in the journal Logos.

In the article, Sarah examines the challenges and opportunities for publishing if Scotland were to vote for Independence in the forthcoming referendum. It addresses key considerations, including the prospect of operating in a newly autonomous country, examining issues such as VAT, currency, content and market visibility.

The article originally was created as a course assignment for the MLitt in Publishing Studies. Professor Claire Squires, Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, said: ‘We’re delighted that this article has been published. Our Centre is international in terms of where our students come from and where they end up working, but we’re also deeply immersed in and networked with the Scottish publishing environment. Sarah’s article makes a strong, unbiased contribution to the debate about whether Scottish publishing would be better served within existing UK frameworks, or within an independent Scotland or – indeed – whether it might be the case that not that much would change.’

The full article can be read here (with thanks to Logos for permission to reproduce the article).


Seeing the future through Google Glass

April 30th, 2014 by Liam Alastair Crouse | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Seeing the future through Google Glass

WP_20140306_0012‘The future is now!’ I’ve always found it good practice to begin blog posts with overused clichés.

‘Google Glass haters attack woman’ – well, not a cliché, but as titles of articles go, pretty catchy. Google Glass, which takes technology to a whole new level, has been met with both excitement and suspicion. One the one hand, the Glass comprises one cool (that’s ‘student speak’ for revolutionary) bit of technological synthesis. On the other, people are saying, sometimes rather facetiously: ‘Google? I’m sure they’ll make sure that none of this material turns up in the wrong place…’ Google? Aye, right.

But seriously, future, now. As part of my internship with HarperCollins UK (in Bishopbriggs), I managed to get into one of the Google Glass demonstrations recently. The Glasses are only currently available in the USA, and even then, they’re only trialling 10,000. HCP got a few over to the UK through their US branch.

There are a few glitches in them yet: they would respond to anyone speaking (not helpful if in a busy café or street); they couldn’t tell me how to get back to Rhode Island; and they really like taking pictures (I see what you did there, Google…). Taking a photo is so easy, in fact, it’s as easy as blinking. Actually, blink, and Google Glass will take a photo. Videos are just as stress-free – I’ll get back to that later.

They’re operated through finger swiping, voice commands, head tilting and a few other animations. They’ll perform a number of simple operations, such as searching Bing (just kidding, Google), video conference calls, translating – most of the things Google’s well known for. It even knew where the closest prison was (answer, just across the field!). Voice recognition was a bit trickier; they needed the token American (that’s me!) to say ‘share to Twitter’, as the Scottish accent hasn’t been programmed in yet. I’ll let that one slide, as they are only supposed to be dealing with the American twang just now.

The translation feature was mind-boggling. A co-worker brought in a piece of Spanish poetry and when we looked at it through the Glasses, the English translation was superimposed over the text – as if the Spanish wasn’t even there. Just keep in mind, the translation’s only as good as Google Translate is – so a bit lacking. But for travel and the like (I’m thinking menus and road signs), you’d do worse then walking around being able to read everything in a foreign country! Consider the ramifications for foreign rights sales for publishing if these were to catch on…

So, videos. You’re out in a club, doing silly things, and someone’s recording. People already do that with cameras/smartphones, right? Well, you can’t really tell if someone’s taking a photo or recording you with these. It’s a bit invasive on a few fronts. Due to a range of questions concerning privacy, spying, and surveillance (something which Google is really good at doing at a profit), they’ve already been banned in a number of locations (and they’re not even on the market yet!).

Furthermore, a lady was fined in the US for driving while operating Google Glasses. Although technically not against the law, the authorities finagled the rules to charge her with operating a TV/monitor while operating a motor vehicle. As well, in February, a woman was ‘attacked’ by ‘haters’ in San Francisco when she refused to remove her glasses (Telegraph, 26 Feb). So begins the revolution.

Or rather, in a few months (?), when they’re released at long last. They’re currently upwards of $1,500 a glass, but they’re estimated to retail around $600. Battery power only lasts around 2 hours just now, but I think that with the rapidity of technological evolution which drives these things, that might be sorted out soon. Who knows, at the end of this year, you may be buying a Google Glass add-on for your loved one’s prescriptions for Christmas.



Publishing Showcase 2014

April 24th, 2014 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | 1 Comment 

We’re already nearing the end of classes for 2013-14!

Only a moment ago, our 2013-14 cohort of MLitt in Publishing Studies students were fresh-faced and eager to embark on their publishing studies.

Now, they may be a little more tired, and both excited and intimidated by the job search ahead, but more than anything they’re much more publishing savvy.

We’re celebrating their achievements on Monday 12 May by showcasing their work from the Publishing Project. There will also be invited guests from our Industry Advisory Board, and a selection of our PhD and MRes students speaking in a round table about publishing studies research.

You are welcome to join us to either or both parts of the afternoon – please let us know if you’d like to come so we have an idea of numbers.

3-4.15pm Round Table on Publishing Research (Chaired by Claire Squires, with Maxine Branagh, Paul Docherty, Carol Mango, Rachel Noorda, Anna Kiernan, Stevie Marsden and Louisa Preston). Pathfoot B2

4.30pm onwards Publishing Showcase and Drinks Reception. Pathfoot Crush Hall.


Martins the Printers

April 24th, 2014 by Aija | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Martins the Printers

How are books made? If you ask a publishing student, you are in for an earful on the wading through a pile of slush in the hopes of discovering the next Hunger Games-trilogy or the next Booker Prize winner – something that stirs either financially or inspirationally. After that you will get an in-depth description of the editing and the decision-making processes all the way from typesetting, cover design to the final version. You might hear about the printing but the emphasis definitely is in the processes pre- and post-printing. That is what we know. That is what we can do. A publisher would not explain the whole printing process not as much for the lack of knowledge than for the fact of it being very mechanical and very distant form the publisher’s actual job. Therefore, the class of 2014 was in for a treat when we got to visit Martins the Printers at Berwick-upon-Tweed and get that rare glimpse to the inner workings of the printers.

David Martin, the sales director at Martins the Printers, kindly welcomed our group and gave us some history to the printers (printing since 1892 with newspapers and since 1950s they have focused on books) before unleashing us in two smaller groups to the belly of printers. Our guide Paul Waugh took us through each of the specific processes required in making a book, showing us the function of each machine and explaining in detail the time frames, the order in which each step is made and the differences between litho and digital publishing. As David and Paul both emphasised that is good for us young publishing hopefuls to know: the biggest differences that have come up through developments in printing is the effective cuts in costs; no more warehousing and the whole process is becoming faster and cheaper, enabling publishers to keep up with times and move their stock much easier – and this is definitely where the future of publishing is steadily moving towards.

The best way to show the process of printing is to visualise it through the snapshots taken through our tour.

Paul showing a printing plate



First of all we went to see the creation of the printing plates, and how the printing plate is then entered into the machine that in the offset printing (economic way of producing large quanitites in one go) prints on the large sheets of paper before those sheets are taken to the next step.




The next step is the folding. The machine actually folds the large print sheets into correct combinations of pages and spreads. The man standing there then stags the fold onto a gurney, ready to be wheeled to the next step.


SownAfter the folding the pages are then sown together, the binding and glueing ready to be made. After sewing the covers get glued on and a version of the paperback is done.


The boys at the glueing machine were over-zealous in their testing, ripping Gluedcovers2covers and pages apart, destroying perfectly well-made ready books for the sake of testing. Heartwrenching. As seen in the above picture of tossed pages and covers of Tim Burton’s book. Never thought I could make such girly shrieks.



FinalisingThere is one more machine to be mentioned, besides the amazing hand-made Warmbookwork that follows each procedure to ensure perfection – and that is the “finaliser”. It is a machine that rounds the corners and compacts a hardback, to give it that book-look. There is nothing better than having that fresh-from-the-oven book in your hand, warm like a roll on  Sunday morning.


Definitely a tour every publisher needs to make regularly to keep up with the changes happening in the developemnts, and to understand the actual process of printing. It is a process to be appreciated and respected. It takes knowledge and skill and is an integral part of book making. Insightful.



Our excursion ended with a long-awaited visit to Barter Books!




February 26th, 2014 by Frances_Sessford | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on VISITING SPEAKERS FOR SEMESTER 2, 2013-14

The Centre’s Visiting Speakers programme for this semester presents perspectives from academic and independent publishers from across the UK. In this academic year, the Centre’s teaching has encouraged students to look to small nation publishing across the world and to consider how the publishing landscape might look in an independent Scotland. We have been asking our speakers for their views on the subject at every opportunity, so come along for some interesting opinions and debate. All sessions are held at 2pm in Pathfoot B2. Attendance is free but there is limited space so please register via frances.sessford@stir.ac.uk to book a place.

The series begins on Thursday February 27 with sports journalists Martin Greig and Neil White, who founded BackPage Press five years ago to publish world-class sports books. Following this on March 6, Anna Glazier, Director of Sales & Marketing at Edinburgh University Press will talk about the challenges of keeping a small academic press in profile and profit. Duncan Lockerbie is a course alumnus and began Lumphanan Press almost as soon as he finished his studies. He now has around seven years’ experience in running a very small publishing company and on March 13 he will share his thoughts and views on how or if this might change should a vote for independence be attained. Moving over the border but not much, on March 20, another course alumnus and editor, Neil Simpson, and his MD, Jonathan Williams from Cumbria-based Cicerone Press will talk about how they manage the digital processes of their highly successful independent press which produces material for walking, cycling and outdoor enthusiasts across the world.

After the mid-semester break our speaker on April 3 is Mairi Kidd, Publisher at Barrington Stoke books in Edinburgh. Barrington Stoke is a very well-established publisher of fiction and other material for reluctant readers and has published many high-profile authors such as Malorie Blackman and Keith Gray. There is no session on April 10 because we will all be away at London Book Fair, but on April 17 we move to the other side of the country when editors Gill Tasker and Helen Sedgwick from Glasgow’s Cargo Publishing will give their take on working for a small independent trade press. After this on April 24, our penultimate speaker is Michael Malone,  who will give his dual perspective on the state of publishing as both a successful author of crime fiction and a regional account manager for Faber Factory. Lastly, our final speaker on May 1 is Jenny Niven, Portfolio Manager (Literature, Publishing & Languages) for Creative Scotland.