(Temporary) Blogs' Archive 2015

Publishing Prizes 2014-15

November 13th, 2015 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Prizes 2014-15
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The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication at the University of Stirling is delighted to make the following awards to students who are graduating from the MLitt in Publishing Studies 2014-15.

  • The Freight Books Prize for Publishing Design – Kerry McShane
  • The Faber & Faber Prize for Digital Innovation – Sarah Boyd
  • The Publishing Scotland Prize for the Best Dissertation – Sarah Webster
  • The Routledge Prize for the most Distinguished Student on the MLitt in Publishing Studies – Heather McDaid

All the prizes are sponsored by our Industry Advisory Board.


Kerry McShane is the recipient of the Freight Books Prize for Publishing Design. For this, she produced the design project The Outlander Kitchen, focusing on a set of recipes inspired by the books and TV series by Diana Gabaldon. For this, Kerry wins £100 of cash and £100 of books of her choice from Glasgow-based publisher Freight Books. Kerry is currently working as an associate editor at Gibbs Smith in Layton, Utah.

Sarah Webster’s prize-winning dissertation, for which she will receive £100 of books of her choice from Publishing Scotland, is titled ‘To what extent does book jacket and cover design influence sales?’. The dissertation, as its abstract explains, ‘concludes that cover design significantly influences book sales. It further supports the idea that the continued investment in quality, cutting-edge jacket design, coupled with a greater level of market research by publishers in what retailers and consumers want, will ensure that the print book continues to thrive, whilst forcing the design of the ebook as we currently know it to seek further improvement.’

VAMPSarah Boyd is the winner of the Faber & Faber Prize for Digital Innovation, for her work on an interactive poetry app, VAMP. Sarah’s award consists of a placement with Faber & Faber in London, during which she will have the opportunity to meet with staff from Faber Digital, Faber Factory, and the marketing team.

Finally, the recipient of the Routledge Prize for the most Distinguished Student on the MLitt in Publishing Studies, thus winning £200 of books from Routledge, is Heather McDaid. Heather’s overall grade profile on the course was consistently high, as was her wider contribution to the life and environment of the MLitt in Publishing Studies. Heather is now publishing assistant at Bright Red, and social media officer for SYP Scotland, as well as freelancing.

Professor Claire Squires, Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, commented that ‘Every year, we’re impressed and delighted by the quality of work produced by our students on the MLitt in Publishing Studies, and the commitment they show to the development of their careers in the publishing industry. It’s wonderful to be able to award some of the very best of the work with prizes from our Industry Advisory Board partners. We congratulate the individual students on their creativity, knowledge, skills and understanding of the publishing industry, and are particularly delighted to be able to have prize-winning work which celebrates digital savvy and entrepreneurialism – key attributes for the publishers of the future.’


Visit to Booksource 2015

October 7th, 2015 by Marian Robb | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visit to Booksource 2015
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On Thursday 1 October the publishing students of Stirling University visited Booksource: a distribution company based in Glasgow. We were welcomed by Louise Morris, the Customer Service Director and Jim O’Donnell, Operations Director and were then separated into two groups. (The MLitt cohort is quite large this year!) One group was taken on a fascinating tour of the warehouse by Jim and the other was given an informative presentation about the company by Louise.

While touring the impressive 44,000 square feet warehouse, Jim told us how Booksource was founded by Publishing Scotland and is still 90% owned by them. The company has approximately eighty client publishers, most of whom are small to medium sized and information about them and what they publish can be found on the Booksource website (http://www.booksource.net/our-clients ). The company provides storage and distribution for their clients and client-customer transactions are processed through their information management system.

As Jim took us down the aisles, with books stacked from floor to ceiling he explained how books are re-stocked early each morning and how a team then picks the books around 9am for the orders that are to be fulfilled that day. He also explained how they choose the most cost effective packaging for the publisher, with smaller orders packed in boxes or larger ones in pallets. The books are kept in the correct environmental conditions which means no heating in the warehouse. Perfect for the books but sometimes very cold for the Booksource team during the Scottish winters!

Jim then showed us the returns sections of the Booksource warehouse and we publishing students were faced with the reality of misjudging the print run or of typo errors missed during the proofreading stage. I think quite a few of us would have liked to save the books from becoming pulped fiction!

Louise gave us some more background to the company during the presentation and explained how important their service is to both publishers and their customers. Most small publishers do not have the resources to be dealing with their own distribution and equally, booksellers would have to order from lots of different publishers which wouldn’t be cost effective for anyone. Booksource means that the publisher-customer transactions can be controlled in one place, allowing publishers to concentrate fully on the publishing process.

She told us about the range of publications they deal with: fiction, outdoor, Scottish themed, children’s books and cookery to name just a few. Booksource also stores and distributes CDs and DVDs for independent music companies and provides an eBook service to publishers. So not just print publications!

Louise also explained how Booksource is continually adapting to the changes in the publishing industry and giving publishers the services they require. They will soon be launching a new online shop (www.mybooksource.com ) where each publisher will have their own dedicated page. It will be a great asset to small publishers who perhaps don’t have the time or resources to maintain their own online shop.

It was a really interesting and enjoyable afternoon seeing this aspect of the book publishing world, and Louise and Jim’s time spent with us was much appreciated, especially as they had to do the tour and presentation twice! We learned a lot and can really see how the services that Booksource provides play a pivotal role in the publishing process. Many thanks to the Booksource team for inviting us all to visit.


Visiting Speaker programme for Semester 1, 2015-16

October 6th, 2015 by Frances_Sessford | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker programme for Semester 1, 2015-16

The visiting speaker sessions for Semester 1 are as follows:

  • October 8: Stevie Marsden (PhD researcher, University of Stirling/the Saltire Society): ‘‘fit tay be in schools, huvn no bad language, sex subversion or antireligion’: The Saltire Society’s Book Awards, Judgment Culture and the Scottish Literary Canon’ & Sarah Mygind, (PhD researcher, Aarhus University, Denmark): ‘How you and them work for you – when readers become co-promoters’
  • October 15: Peter Dennis, Publishing Manager, Leckie & Leckie
  • October 22: Mairi Kidd, Publisher, Barrington Stoke
  • November 5: Gillian Macrossan, Publishing Manager, & Jo Marjoribanks, Publishing Quality Controller, Witherby Publishing
  • November 12: John Watson, Commissioning Editor, Edinburgh University Press (as part of Academic Book Week) *PLEASE NOTE THIS SESSION WILL TAKE PLACE IN COTTRELL 2B84*
  • November 19: Lindsey Fraser, Literary Agent, Fraser Ross Associates
  • November 26: Cherise Saywell, Author & Royal Literary Fund Fellow
  • December 3: Lucy Feather and Eleanor Logan, Publishing Scotland

Please note a change of venue from previous years. All sessions will now be held in Cottrell 2B86 on Thursdays, beginning at 2pm. Places are free but limited. If you wish to attend but are not a Publishing student, please email frances.sessford@stir.ac.uk to register.


ThunderStone Books Internship

October 6th, 2015 by Hannah Elizabeth Roberts | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on ThunderStone Books Internship
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Thunderstone Books LogoIn the early summer of this year I was offered a three month marketing internship with independent publisher ThunderStone Books.

Robert and Rachel Noorda began Thunderstone Books in 2013 to help meet the need for cultural and language education in an increasingly global and interconnected world. They now publish educational children’s books in areas such as language learning and science.

As ThunderStone Books are a relatively small publisher, Rob and Rachel do the majority of their daily tasks themselves. From proofing manuscripts to organising visits to schools and book launches. For me, this was great opportunity to see how the world of small, independent publishing worked and Rob and Rachel were very hands-on with me from the beginning.

One of my main duties was to increase their social media interactions and out put by essentially, taking over their Facebook and Twitter pages and posting about various publishing related events and important dates such as the pre-order dates for their new title Meh. This was an essential task and one that Rob and Rachel didn’t always have the time to dedicate their energy towards. Therefore, social media quickly became the focus of my internship with ThunderStone Books.

I created a social media schedule from the list of key dates that Rob and Rachel provided me with and got to work, making sure I never missed a notification or opportunity to tweet. Which, as a 22-year old, was relatively easy as my smart phone is very rarely out of my sight!

I enjoyed this part of my internship as not only was I helping to get ThunderStone Books more likes, followers and re-tweets, I was also part of a stimulating and educational publishing network. Being in charge of their social media for three months also gave me great confidence in my ability to utilize social media in a professional context.

Unfortunately, I was unable to fulfill the task of arranging press coverage for the launch of the publisher’s new title Meh due to ill health in late July. I deeply regret this and wish I could have had the experience under my belt. However, Rob and Rachel were very understanding and did a great job in organising media for the launch of Meh.

Picture of 'Meh' by Deborah Malcolm. Credit: Hannah Roberts

Picture of ‘Meh’ by Deborah Malcolm. Credit: Hannah Roberts

When it came to the launch of Meh in August, I spent the day live-tweeting and posting pictures of the event in the Livingstone branch of Waterstones. This was a fantastic event with a great turn out and impressive media coverage via STV and other organisations. The copies of Meh sold impressively quickly. So much so, that Rob had to go and pick up more to sell!

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being at the launch of Meh. It was a brilliant opportunity to gain insight in to the organisation of book launches and how they are perceived by the author and readers alike. I even got my copy of Meh signed by the author Deborah Malcolm. (Buy Meh here).

To summarise, my internship with Rob and Rachel at ThunderStone Books was an incredibly insightful and rewarding experience both personally and professionally. I have gained valuable experiences from their decision to take me on as an intern and have also built a like-minded professional relationship and friendship with them which I hope will last for many years to come!


Bell & Bain: A Firsthand Look Inside Printing

October 5th, 2015 by Hannah Fields | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Bell & Bain: A Firsthand Look Inside Printing

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

Bell & Bain, one of Scotland’s oldest established printing companies, welcomed my fellow University of Stirling Publishing Studies classmates and myself into their offices on Thursday, Oct. 1.

Our outing to Glasgow’s prized printers began with a brief, yet enlightening, presentation detailing both the history and inner workings of the company, with all information being delivered by Bell & Bain Sales Director Designate Derek Kenny and Business Services Coordinator Kenneth Shepherdson.

Bell & Bain, founded in 1831 by James Bell and Andrew Bain, specializes in the printing and binding of business, educational, financial, religious, medical, and scientific books and journals. The company services around 600 clients, with 95 percent of them being publishing companies. Not only does Bell & Bain pride itself on being both environmentally and socially aware, it also aims to be “the printer of choice” for customers by providing quality products and services.

Following the presentation we were split into two groups and given a tour of where the magic happens—the Bell & Bain printing factory. For me, this was the most interesting part of the visit. When one picks up a book at a local retailer, it’s easy not to give a second thought to how it was produced. Having the firsthand experience of watching the book printing process, from aluminum plates to paper to binding, gave me a new appreciation for the publications that I too often pass idly by.

However, this process of print and digital publishing isn’t done in one place. Bell & Bain owns an additional warehouse where its paperbacks, hardbacks, and journals are printed. It would be almost naïve to expect anything less of a company that has been serving the masses for generations. Our tour of the second location wasn’t as lengthy, as the company is in the process of renovation and transfer of office space. Despite all of this, I admire the Bell & Bain staff’s ability to effectively produce products alongside what many would deem bothersome conditions.

All in all, I’d say our trip to Bell & Bain was well worth the time. I’d also like to give a very special thanks to Derek Kenny and Kenneth Shepherdson for setting aside time in their busy schedules to give us a tour, answer our questions, and provide lunch for our group. Bell & Bain is inarguably a class act in the publishing industry.


SYP Scotland Networking Event at the Mad Hatter, Edinburgh: “With a Foil Finish”

September 28th, 2015 by Patrizia Striowsky | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on SYP Scotland Networking Event at the Mad Hatter, Edinburgh: “With a Foil Finish”

For many of us new Publishing students here at Stirling, the networking event of SYP Scotland at the Mad Hatter was our first chance to meet people from or interested in the industry outside of university – and we were eager to use this opportunity! A warm welcome by the members of the SYP awaited us, accompanied by a friendly atmosphere, tea and lovely little cakes.

I had the chance to speak to several members of the committee, as well as fellow students from Edinburgh Napier. I can‘t go into detail about all the discussions we held yesterday, but I would like to give those of you who couldn’t make it a small example selection at least! A particularly interesting topic for me was comparing the designs of German bookcovers to the designs of UK bookcovers: I always found most book designs of my home country to be dull and uncreative, and was surprised to hear that several German publishers have voiced the same concern on occasion… but why not change something about it when you are in charge of design? This is a question I will certainly have to investigate further in the course of my studies!

We also discussed the shrinking number of editorial departments of publishing houses. As more literary agencies now offer substantial editing work before sending a manuscript to a publisher, some publishers open their own literary agencies (including not only book, but film and other media agents as well). An internship at a literary agency could therefore be another valuable experience.

I would also like to point out a great opportunity that was announced yesterday, and is now online on the SYP Scotland Twitter as well: “The Society of Young Publishers Scotland are thrilled to be partnering with the Saltire Society to give you the chance to be on a shadow judging panel for four of their Award categories this year!” To apply, just follow the link and submit your application. Try to do this as soon as possible, as the deadline is Sunday, the 4th of October.

Another announcement that is interesting for Publishing students is the SYP’s mentoring scheme (this year’s MLitt students might remember Heather McDaid telling us about it during our induction session). Applications should include a CV and information on your field of interest in the publishing industry and will be open sometime in November, so keep an eye on the SYP Scotland homepage and Twitter for more information!


Marketing and Publicity and PaperLove

June 24th, 2015 by Courtney Murphy | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Marketing and Publicity and PaperLove
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Rachel Hazell, a.k.a. the Traveling Bookbinder

Rachel Hazell, a.k.a. the Traveling Bookbinder

I interned for Rachel Hazell, a bookbinder and paper artist based in Edinburgh. Rachel has been a self-employed book artist since 1998 when she founded her first company, Hazell Designs Books. She is passionate about books but more than anything else she’s passionate about paper itself. Her strong drive to share her passion for paper with others has taken her around the world: she has taught bookbinding and book art workshops in Scotland, Paris, Venice, California, and as far afield as Antarctica.

My work as an intern primarily involved marketing and publicity for PaperLove, Rachel’s online paper art course. The PaperLove e-course is five-week class that explores a range of paper art and paper craft. It is advertised as a course “Developed to enable everyone, no matter where they live, to work with Rachel to develop their creativity through the medium of paper”. Each week of the course is devoted to a specific theme or craft. The themes for each of the five weeks are: paper, collage, word, book, and mail. You can learn more about the course here.

The PaperLove e-course runs two times each year. As soon as my internship began in January I started

Countdown to PaperLove

Countdown to PaperLove

working to promote the March run of the course. Working with a limited marketing budget Rachel and I focused on using social media and electronic word-of-mouth marketing as a way of reaching potential “PaperLovers”. We used our Instagram to host giveaways and to advertise the course. (The Society of Young Publishers recently did a feature on Rachel’s delightful Instagram account here.) On Facebook we used the Paperphiliapage to share free DIY tutorials as a way of giving potential students the chance to try out paper crafts and get a sense of Rachel’s teaching style.

A large part of my internship consisted of liaising with artists and bloggers who helped to promote PaperLove. I contacted paper artists, collage artists, bookbinders, and bloggers all over the world and worked with them to get publicity for PaperLove. We offered interested artists a five-day PaperLove sampler course and requested that in exchange for the sampler they write a feature about PaperLove on their blog. Artists all over the world took part, including a visual artist based in London, U.K.; a paper artist and author in Delaware, U.S.A.; and a jeweler and crafter in Bucharest, Romania. It was interesting to see what each artist did with the sampler class projects, and the features these artists wrote really helped to extend Rachel’s reach and to spread the word about PaperLove. I also worked to get PaperLove onto craft websites and community sites. It was exciting to see PaperLove featured on CraftGossip.com. CraftGossip did two features on Rachel’s paper art: one feature on PaperLove and a second feature on Rachel’s DIY tutorial on how to make Mini Post Books.

Lemongrass soap lovingly wrapped in book text

Lemongrass soap lovingly wrapped in book text

Interning for a book and paper artist was never ever boring. While much of my work was done from home on my laptop, whenever I went into Edinburgh to meet with Rachel at her studio I got to take a break from my laptop and busy myself with whatever crafty tasks needed doing. One day I used pages cut from old second hand books to wrap up bars of soap for Bed with a View, Rachel’s literary-themed studio apartment retreat in Edinburgh’s Old Town. The next day upon my arrival at the studio I was presented with one of Rachel’s literary sculptures and asked to count the number of blossoms in a paper “bookquet”—a bouquet of flowers custom made from the pages of a book.

It was such a privilege to work with Rachel on promoting the PaperLove course. I learnt so much about marketing and publicity while working alongside Rachel and her PR, branding, and long-term strategy person. I also learnt a lot about paper: I now know all about European paper making methods, the history of writing implements, and I’ve mastered some basic paper folding and bookbinding techniques. My internship with Rachel Hazell has truly been a highlight of my year on the M.Litt. course.

Gaelic Books Council Scholarship 2015-16

June 9th, 2015 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Gaelic Books Council Scholarship 2015-16
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comhairle nan leabhraichean the gaelic books council logoThe Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication is delighted to announce that the Gaelic Books Council will be offering a scholarship for a place on our MLitt in Publishing Studies programme for the academic year 2015-16.

The scholarship will cover fees (at Home/EU level) and offers up to £2000 in reasonable travel and subsistence relating to the work placement aspects of the module.

Full details of the scholarship are available here: GaelicBooksCouncil_Scholarship1516_fps (pdf). The deadline for submissions is 12pm on Friday 3 July 2015.

Enquiries should be directed to Professor Claire Squires, the Programme Director of the MLitt in Publishing Studies.


My Experience of the Publishing Project

May 11th, 2015 by Sarah Elizabeth Webster | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on My Experience of the Publishing Project
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young woman in a dress holding a bookSarah Webster reports on the creation of her Publishing Project:

For the Publishing Project module I produced a complete and finished Children’s Fiction title, aimed at 7-9 year olds, called Samson The Super Dog. To give a brief synopsis of my book, it is about an Italian Newfoundland lifeguard dog called Samson who works on the Cornish beaches, rescues a casualty and is awarded a medal for bravery by the Queen. It’s designed to educate children about open water safety, especially about the different beach flags and the risks of currents and tides all of which is something really close to my heart as an ex pool-lifeguard and TA in lifesaving. It is also a tribute to the real dogs who do this job year in year out in Italy and Spain, and is a particular tribute to Bilbo, the Cornish lifeguard dog, who is my personal hero and pin-up Newfie. In fact, Bilbo is so famous with his own website, social media, news and press coverage, and BBC footage, he even has his own published biography, and I was therefore obliged to seek copyright permissions from the author and his wonderful owner, Mr Jamieson. My dialogue with him not only fuelled my enthusiasm for this project but was also another invaluable opportunity of understanding and practically going about seeking rights and permissions, one of many real-world tasks involved in producing a new title for publication, and one of many new things I can now say I have accomplished because of the publishing project.

Indeed, prior to this course I had never used InDesign or Photoshop or had to engage with professional printers or devise a marketing plan. And although I have illustrated my project from cover to cover, I have no official art qualifications. But this short book in my hand has involved all of these different skills and tasks, of which I felt previously deficient, but now feel I’m equipped with to pursue my career in the industry.

One of the things that most attracted me to this particular University programme was the combination of practical and academic application, teaching and assessment that was on offer. The idea of producing a physical publishing product that I could literally hold in my hands and show to future employers as a demonstration of my practical skill set across a wide range of areas really appealed to me. I think it’s fair to say that the publishing project process has satisfied the desires and expectations I had and has been hugely rewarding.

I feel really satisfied that I’ve been able to carry out every stage of the process myself from concept to creation. It is something that prior to this course I couldn’t have done on my own, but thanks to the teaching and support provided here at Stirling, I have accomplished.

I think each and everyone of us on the course at Stirling are proud of our projects and what we have achieved. Thus, it leaves me to simply reiterate how much I, personally, have enjoyed creating this little book.


My Internship with Eland Publishing

May 5th, 2015 by Helen Griffin | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on My Internship with Eland Publishing
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Eland BadgeIn February of this year I had the opportunity to work for Eland Publishing, one of the foremost publishers of classic travel writing in the world. Eland is a very small and determinedly independent publisher located in Exmouth Market in London. The publishing house is owned by travel writers Rose Baring, John Hatt and Barnaby Rogerson, run with the assistance of a team of self-motivated freelancers: Jennie Paterson [website creation] Antony Gray [typesetting and page design] and Stephanie Allen [Publicity Director]. Eland’s mission statement is to keep the great works of travel literature in print.

a massive bookshelf with a table covered with books in front of itI thoroughly enjoyed my opportunity to work for Eland because everything was run from one small attic room that had a bohemian, dusty sort of air to it, spread around large piles of books. The office was everything you imagine a publishing house should look like. All meetings and every aspect of book production was covered in this tiny little space and so I was able to see and hear all the work and planning that goes in to every stage of the book making process. I was also able to meet and have conversations with some incredibly interesting travel writers, who in a larger publishing house would have most likely been tucked away in private offices to have their meetings.

the living Goddess book cover Throughout my internship I was able to sink my teeth into some real publishing activities such as organising and attending a book launch for their newest release: The Living Goddess by Isabella Tree. I also had the exciting job of cataloguing all of the entries for the Stanford-Dolman Best Travel Book of the Year Award, which meant that I was the first person to see all the potential candidates for the award.

a table with lots of books on itBarnaby and Rose were both excellent people to work with. I was the first intern they had ever taken on and so I was very appreciative of how welcoming and enthusiastic they were to ensure that I would gain as much experience as possible from this work experience. They would explain the reasoning and importance behind every task I was completing and how each contributed to the overall running of their business. They would also involve me in all of their meetings and engage me in the conversation so that I was not just a mere spectator to the activity.

a wall with printed images and textMy time at Eland allowed me to develop a fine eye for detail and gave me the confidence to voice my own ideas when I felt I could contribute. I am very grateful to Barnaby and Rose for the support I was given throughout my time at Eland. This experience gave me a broad understanding of the work that goes into book production and showed me the pride they felt for the content they were producing. It was a privilege to work for a company who strive to keep classic travel literature in print and to be able to say, that for a while, I was a part of it.



Publishing Showcase 2015

April 29th, 2015 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Showcase 2015
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Publishing Studies Students 2014-15It’s that time of year already! The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication invite you to our annual Publishing Showcase on Wednesday 6 May 2015, where we will be joined by our Industry Advisory Board to celebrate this year’s publishing students’ achievements. The schedule for the day is:

2.30-3.45pm Publishing Round Table, featuring members of the Industry Advisory Board (Marion Sinclair of Publishing Scotland; Katy Lockwood-Holmes of Floris Books; Adrian Searle of Freight Books; Vivian Marr of Oxford University Press; Simon Blacklock of Faber Factory; Martin Redfern, independent publishing consultant) (Pathfoot B2)

4pm-6pm Publishing Showcase, featuring work from our MLitt & MRes in Publishing Studies students, and some short speeches (Pathfoot B2)

Whether you’re a graduate of the programme, a possible future student, or part of our publishing network, please do join us. Please do drop us a line so we have a sense of numbers via our Contact page.


My Internship with Floris Books

April 29th, 2015 by Callum Mitchell Walker | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on My Internship with Floris Books
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my first Scottish colours book coverIn February of this year I began a 4-month internship with Edinburgh based children’s and non-fiction publisher Floris Books and have greatly benefitted from this experience by enhancing my classroom learning in a professional environment. Mainly focused in the marketing department, I learned valuable new skills and was able to improve the abilities I had prior to my time interning. Although most of my tasks were marketing focused, one benefit of Floris being a small publisher is that I was given the opportunity to work on a wide range of tasks across other departments too and develop a greater understanding of the ways in which departments work together to optimize the effective running of company procedures.

Although Floris are a small Scottish publisher, they publish a wide range of non-fiction titles in areas such as biodynamics and holistic health as well as their popular children’s books. I was able to work on many projects across the different lists published by Floris and enjoyed working on marketing different books to different groups of readers.

the nowhere emporium book coverAt the start of my internship I was warmly welcomed by the lovely Floris team and was introduced to the extensive Floris tea collection that I was encouraged to enjoy as often as I liked, before getting straight down to work. Throughout my internship I was able to work on a wide variety of tasks for the marketing department including writing press releases, drafting advance information sheets and designing promotional materials for events. I was unaware before my internship how often I would be utilizing my InDesign abilities in creating marketing materials and my first few weeks interning encouraged me too really practice these skills. However my tasks were not restricted to marketing, as I gained valuable editorial experience proofreading content and reading and reporting on submissions for the Floris annual Kelpies Prize, which encourages Scottish writing for children. I also helped assist the Floris team at the awards ceremony for the Kelpies Design and Illustration Prize, which awarded designers and illustrators who reimaged the cover of a classic children’s book in the Kelpies range of Scottish children’s fiction.

I’m very grateful for my time spent at Floris as I have received support, guidance and feedback from such a dynamic company. I have learned many essential skills that will benefit me in my future career from a fantastic, passionate small team. My internship has given me much more confidence in my abilities and has encouraged me to work on other skills to improve my employability when looking for my first job in the publishing industry. This experience has been completely invaluable to me by providing me with a hands-on approach to publishing practices and helped me to feel more enthusiastic than ever before about my future endeavours.


Interning with Think Publishing

April 29th, 2015 by Leia Forster | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Interning with Think Publishing
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think logoIn January 2015, I began to intern with the award-winning content and publishing agency Think. Founded in 1999, Think Publishing employs more than 60 members of staff, work with over 40 clients and have offices in London and Glasgow. I was lucky enough to work in the editorial department of the Glasgow branch which produces a number of great magazines for a variety of organisations.

During my time at Think I believe I learned a great deal about magazine publishing as well as gaining insight into the workings of an office environment. I quickly found that the inner workings of a magazine publisher were quite different to that of a book publisher. On my first day I was presented with strange magazine terminology such as ‘furniture’ and ‘copy’, but I caught on quickly. I found myself intrigued by what could be considered a somewhat unconventional business model in the realms of publishing – client funded publications. Trade fiction publishers essentially gamble with every publication they choose to publish. They invest money in these publications and rely greatly on their commercial success. Think’s business model provides a secure financial platform to support the publications that they print for their clients. scotland in trust cover with a boy on a rope

While I was at Think I worked on a number of magazines such as Scotland in Trust, Historic Scotland, Escape, Splash and Legion Scotland. Tasks included the transcription of interviews, research for features, writing content for magazines, sourcing images and coming up with ideas for future features. I found that there were far more opportunities to undertake creative tasks than could be expected in typical book publishing editorial roles, and one of the most rewarding parts of the internship was being able to produce a piece of copy and watch it progress through different stages before finally being included in the magazine.

Despite working primarily on editorial tasks, Think’s office environment allowed me insight into all the different roles and tasks involved in the creation of a magazine. The open layout of the office meant that I could look across the room and watch the designers working on magazine covers and spreads. Being able to observe staff interactions and listen to office discussions was very useful and my time spent doing feature research was never wasted as I found myself leaving the office on a daily basis with a new selection of random facts and knowledge.

I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to intern with Think, and this insight into the world of magazine publishing has given me the confidence to consider magazine publishing as a potential career path to follow upon completing the course.


Publishing Prizes 2013-14

April 12th, 2015 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Prizes 2013-14
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The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication at the University of Stirling is delighted to have made the following awards to students who graduated from the MLitt in Publishing Studies 2013-14.

  • The Freight Books Prize for Publishing Design – Laura Jones
  • The Faber and Faber Prize for Digital Innovation – Liam Crouse
  • The Publishing Scotland Prize for the Best Dissertation – Fanny Schmidt
  • The Routledge Prize for the most Distinguished Student on the MLitt in Publishing Studies – Laura Jones

All the prizes are sponsored by members of the Centre’s Industry Advisory Board.

Laura Jones's prize-winning Read. Write. Ink.

Laura Jones’s prize-winning Read. Write. Ink.

Laura Jones is the recipient of both the Freight Books Prize for Publishing Design. For this former, she produced the fascinating design project Read. Write. Ink., focusing on collectors of literary tattoos. It features writers close at home including Vicki Jarrett, but also examples she sourced via Twitter. For this, Laura wins £100 of cash and £100 of books of her choice from Glasgow-based publisher Freight Books. Fellow student Aija Oksman was Highly Commended in the Freight Books Prize for Publishing Design for her powerful project Pursuit: Empowering Post-Natal Depression.

Laura is also the winner of the Routledge Prize for the most Distinguished Student on the MLitt in Publishing Studies, thus winning £200 of books from Taylor & Francis. Laura’s overall grade profile on the course was consistently high, and alongside her Publishing Project she produced extremely strong work including the dissertation, ‘Amazon: Friend or Foe?’. Laura is now working at Glasgow publisher Saraband Books.

Fanny Schmidt’s prize-winning dissertation, for which she will receive £100 of books of her choice from Publishing Scotland’s BooksFromScotland.com, is titled ‘Copyright, Books and Social Media’. The dissertation, as tis abstract explains, ‘examines the interrelation between copyright and authorship on social media platforms, arguing that it should be awarded with both a fair dealing exemption for the use of copyrighted material in those spaces and also a better protection of the copyright of original material produced for social media. It further examines whether or not social media content should be awarded authorship status in order to support the claim for copyright. However, the findings suggest that due to the high level of prosumption on social media, authorship in the traditional sense cannot be granted; calling into question the copyright legislation these websites should receive.’ A pdf of Fanny’s dissertation is available via this link. Fanny is now working at Bloomsbury Academic.

Liam Crouse is the winner of the Faber & Faber Prize for Digital Innovation, for his work developing the concept of and designs for a geospacial app mapping out the life of the celebrated Gaelic poet Duncan Bàn MacIntyre along the West Highland Way. Liam was the recipient of the inaugural Gaelic Books Council Scholarship at the Stirling Centre for International Publishing & Communication. His aware consists of a two-day placement with Faber & Faber in London, during which he will have the opportunity to meet with the heads of Faber Digital, Faber Factory, and the marketing team. A previous recipient of the award, Claire Jeffery, writes about her experience here.

Liam Crouse's prize-winning app The Duncan Ban Trail

Liam Crouse’s prize-winning app The Duncan Ban Trail

Professor Claire Squires, Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, commented that ‘It’s a great validation of our MLitt in Publishing Studies to have these industry-sponsored prizes, which showcase the work of the Centre and its students. We congratulate the individual students on their creativity, knowledge, skills and understanding of the publishing industry, and are particularly delighted to be able to have prize-winning work which celebrate digital savvy and entrepreneurialism – key attributes for the publishers of the future.’


My Internship with Glasgow Women’s Library

April 8th, 2015 by Kena Nicole Longabaugh | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on My Internship with Glasgow Women’s Library
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young woman holding a bookIn November of last year, I began a publishing internship with Glasgow Women’s Library. Located in Glasgow’s East End, GWL acts as a lending library, historical archive and provider of services and programmes for women across Scotland. The missionof the library is ‘to celebrate the lives and achievements of women, champion their historical, cultural and political contributions and act as a catalyst to eradicate the gender gap that contributes to widespread inequalities in Scotland’. Unique as the only women’s library in Scotland, GWL aims to provide a welcoming and productive space for women from all walks of life; a warm smile and offer of tea is almost guaranteed when you walk through the doors.

My role at the library was to provide publishing related support for a book titled Mixing The Colours: women speaking about sectarianism, an anthology of short stories and poems about women’s experiences with sectarianism in Scotland. More than sixteen writers contributed to the book, including commissioned authors Eleanor Thom, Denise Mina and Magi Gibson. The short stories and poems contained within the publication were collected through a series of creative writing workshops and discussions where women were encouraged to draw on experiences of sectarianism in their lives. The result is a moving narrative that is truly unique: Mixing The Colours: women speaking about sectarianism is the first ever published work written by and about women on the issue of sectarianism. The book was launched with a conference on 20th March that included performances by the contributing writers, discussions and a screening of the accompanying film of the same name. The entire project was spearheaded by the wonderful Rachel Thain-Gray, my internship mentor and the Project Development Worker for Mixing The Colours.

The authors of Mixing The Colours: women speaking about sectarianism standing in front of steps with a book

Several of the authors of Mixing The Colours: women speaking about sectarianism posing with the book.

During my time at the library, I worked on various editorial and marketing tasks for the Mixing The Colours publication. These included proofreading the manuscript, contacting book festivals, researching, designing an Advance Information sheet and copyright page, writing a press release and sending it to media outlets, blogging and planning for the conference.

room full of people at a conference

The Mixing The Colours conference at St. Andrew’s in the Square in Glasgow.

I’m grateful to have been trusted with so much responsibility throughout my time at the library and for all the support I was given by Rachel, Rebecca and the rest of the Glasgow Women’s Library staff. The internship served as a broad introduction to the tasks involved in the overall production of a book and it was a privilege to work with an organisation with such strong values while developing my own skills as a publishing student.


My Internship with Saraband

March 12th, 2015 by Jennifer Katherine Hamrick | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on My Internship with Saraband
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Paris Kiss book coverI am currently interning at Saraband and I could not have asked for a better experience. Saraband is an independent publisher located in Glasgow with a wide range of both fiction and non-fiction titles as well as some literary apps. The publisher is very small, with only three employees: Sara Hunt (managing director), Craig Hillsley (who works satellite from London) and Laura Jones (a former Stirling MLitt student and current Saraband assistant). But for such a small publisher, they manage to do an incredible amount of work. Sometimes I think Sara must have clones of herself in order to accomplish everything she does in a single day!

Working with a small publisher is ideal for students because it means you get to dabble in every aspect of publishing. My very first day I got to go to a trade fair, start copyediting a nonfiction title, practice filling in metadata spreadsheets and learn about promoting titles on Amazon. We all work in the same room so I get to overhear very interesting and educational conversations such as when to send out press releases or how to coordinate sales reps’ expectations versus authors’ expectations. So far, I’ve been able to see a title through from copy-editing to cover design and hopefully to final production in the future.

What I like best about interning with Saraband is that I am welcome to ask any questions I want. Sara and Laura are both fantastic teachers and go above and beyond to make sure I am getting good experience from my time here. Sara always makes it a point to explain why we do things a certain way in publishing so that I can understand where these processes come from. And Laura has taken time away from her work to personally teach me about typesetting, a skill I was very desperate to improve upon. Thanks to her, I was able to improve my publishing dummy project and I now feel much more confident about setting up Eagle's Way book coverboth Word and InDesign documents for typesetting in the future.

One of my favorite tasks thus far has been to create book trailers for a couple of Saraband’s titles. I created very simple iMovie videos, but am interested in expanding my video-editing knowledge and exploring other video software programs. I was very happy to learn that the authors of the books for these videos were pleased with what I had created; it gave me a lot of confidence to have made something that both Saraband and the authors could use on social media. Moreover, I now have another skill to add to my CV with links to videos that I created.

This experience has been completely invaluable to me. Through this internship I have been able to gain the practical knowledge I need to enter the publishing industry, and I feel much more confident about my skills. Plus, by completing a variety of tasks, I now know with which area of publishing my skill sets and interests line up. I look forward to learning more as my internship progresses.

– Jenny Hamrick


The Writer’s Toolbox – negative book reviews

March 3rd, 2015 by Miriam Owen | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Writer’s Toolbox – negative book reviews

As a person who shops on line regularly I have to admit I am fond of a review. The most useful reviews to me are the negative ones. These are the ones that balance the (usually) many positive reviews. They tend to go into specifics about what they don’t like. This information helps me to make up my mind about a purchase. For example I may not care if someone has described a book negatively because the story is cheesy, predictable or overly romanticised, in fact that may be just what I am looking for, but if it is badly translated then I know it will just annoy me. What’s negative to one consumer may not be to another. These negative reviews help us to make decisions.

However as a blogger I have long deliberated over the place of negative book reviews in my own personal writing. I feel obliged to provide some kind of review when a publisher or author presents me with a book and my biggest worry is about writing a negative review. Should I make people read between the lines or just say what I think openly? I do feel quite strongly that open debate is healthy and for this to happen honest opinion must be raised. Constructive criticism is something we all need to listen to in order to grow. What will it mean to the author or publisher and what if it is someone that I know, meet or have to work with in the future?

Today I discovered that the International Thriller Writers Organization has been asking its authors to share their worst reviews with the public by video on their Facebook page. What an interesting idea! The clips vary in length but overall it would seem that these authors engage with the negative reviews, they can take it, they can even laugh about it.

If you are logged in to Facebook you can see one of the clips by international best-selling British writer of crime fiction Peter James here . David Swatling, a recently published author who also took part in this, posted this piece on Facebook referring to negative reviews: “I appreciate anyone who takes time to write a review – good or bad. So I had no problem recording my worst at the request of International Thriller Writers. As Irish author Brendan Behan once said, ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary’.”

At the end of the day I think one of the main ways to approach this is to think of the VALUE of a review. A ‘negative’ review can provide balance and it can provide commentary on society trend and make people think outside the box. The reviewer has the choice of words in which to call a spade a spade and if you want the spade to be used constructively in the future then the reviewer will consider carefully the value of their review in the writers toolbox.

If you are a publisher, reviewer, author or someone who reads reviews regularly I would be really interested to hear what you have to say about book reviews with negative opinions in them and the value they hold.

Visiting Speaker series, Semester 2, 2014-2015

February 11th, 2015 by Frances_Sessford | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker series, Semester 2, 2014-2015

The visiting speaker sessions for Semester 2 have already begun, with Peter Dennis, Editorial Manager at Leckie & Leckie giving a brilliant talk on commissioning, budgets and planning on February 5. The sessions will kick off again on March 5, with Jamie Crawford, Publishing Manager at RCAHMS (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland). On March 12 we welcome Caroline Gorham, Production Director at Canongate Books, followed on March 19 by Fiona Brownlee, ex-Mainstream Publishing and current Publishing consultant at Freight Books. March 26 sees a welcome return for Vivian Marr, Head of Language Acquisition at Oxford University Press; and the final session is with Caitrin Armstrong and Claire Marchant-Collier, the Writer Development Team from Scottish Book Trust. All sessions are held on Thursdays in Pathfoot B2, beginning at 2pm. Please email frances.sessford@stir.ac.uk to register.


Gaelic Books Council Scholarship report – Liam Crouse

February 9th, 2015 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Gaelic Books Council Scholarship report – Liam Crouse
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Liam Crouse, the first recipient of the Gaelic Books Council Scholarship, reports on his award:

Profile-Publishing1My initial interest in Scottish Gaelic literature was fostered during my undergraduate degree in Celtic and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. Two forms of prose, the short story and the novel, were instrumental by both fostering my linguistic ability and cementing my interest in Gaelic-language literature. Following graduation, during my return home, my once fluent conversational skills began to ebb. However, by engaging with the modern literature, I was able to keep some semblance of fluency. It was during this period that I recognised the importance of literature to minority languages – not only in terms of cultural value, but also to foster usage and regeneration.

Unlike the English-language publishing industry, in the Gaelic world we need more – more books, more authors, more publishers, more support. That was one of the reasons for creating the Gaelic Books Councilscholarship. Initiatives within the past decade have focused on populating the literary corpus with quality works of prose. All the while continuing with those initiatives, new efforts are being exerted towards developing publishing capacity.

Through the course at the University of Stirling, I have gained an industry-oriented knowledge-base of the publishing industry, both in Britain and abroad. Courses in marketing strategies, business acumen, digital skills and publishing dynamics complemented each other in insightful and appealing ways. These skills were brought together in my publishing project – a geospacial app mapping out the life of the celebrated Gaelic poet Duncan Bàn MacIntyre along the West Highland Way, for which I was awarded the Faber & Faber prize for digital innovation. Towards the conclusion of the course, my thesis concerning the market for Gaelic books allowed me to investigate the multifaceted industry in a way which combined my zeal for the language with my interest in business and marketing practice.

Throughout the course, I gained first-hand experience working with publishers both big and small. The Gaelic Books Council arranged two internships at Gaelic-language publishers, one in Stornoway (Acair)and the other in Highland Perthshire (Grace Note Publications). While working with Grace Note, I helped in the translating of a children’s book which just recently was published in late November. I also secured an internship at the multinational publisher, HarperCollins, working on bilingual dictionaries. The contrast between large and small, multinational and local, and English and Gaelic made for interesting comparison.

I further became involved in Gaelic publishing in a more entrepreneurial spirit in December 2013, when news broke about the termination of Gaeldom’s sole magazine. A small group of enthusiasts and I rose to the challenge and established the first e-zine in the language called Dàna. The past year has been immensely enjoyable and enlightening, allowing me to directly apply many points from the degree. The e-zine is a tangible project with which I feel like I am helping to progress the language’s literature and we intend to continue developing the site’s outreach and influence in the coming years. It will certainly keep me busy!

The scholarship and degree have been both interesting and engaging. To those prospective publishing students: not only will it provide the keen librophile with a good balance of business sense, it will also equip you with the knowledge and connections that will allow you to thrive within the industry.

Note: Liam will shortly be taking up a post as Gaelic Development Office at Ceòlas Uibhist Ltd.


Visiting Speaker: Peter Dennis – Leckie & Leckie.

February 8th, 2015 by Heather Margaret McDaid | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker: Peter Dennis – Leckie & Leckie.
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The first Visiting Speaker session of 2015 was Peter Dennis, Publishing Manager at Leckie & Leckie. The company has a goal to produce ‘high quality education resources for the secondary school market’, which includes textbooks and revision guides.

comm gordonMere weeks into starting his job, the company was sold on to Granada Learning, the first of many to acquire the company who are now (happily!) part of HarperCollins. He began in a house in St. Andrews, working in ‘an attic next to a printer and a bearded gentlemen who quietly got on and made the books.’

Part of his job is drawing the budget, from the costs and sales projections to the pricing of the book itself. You need to look at the market and justify the need for the book, and look at the competition to hit the right price mark. Too high and no one will buy it, too low and you’ll lose your profit.

He also commissions the books, so needs to brief an author (or the team of authors) so they know exactly what’s expected. Standard templates and chapter features for ease of creation and continuity are key throughout.

The instigation of the company’s real growth came from winning the Scottish contract for past papers; there was a definite need to expand and working in a rural area can only go so far. Rural companies and publishers are not doomed to failure, he adds, but there can be a limiting factor in terms of growth.

The current SQA changes, moving to the Curriculum for Excellence, is the first overhaul of this kind in Scotland’s education sector for about 20 years, so it’s a big threat to the company as their entire list is technically gone, but also an opportunity spiralling from that need to create a new range of excellent products.

This is almost a good thing, as he notes that Leckie & Leckie was beginning to run dry with topics they could create books for. As there was no real change, the scope to expand into became narrower; they tried smaller subjects with smaller cohorts, topics like Graphic Communication and Home Economics, but there weren’t many places left to go.

7bb576f7-9b3b-4e3d-a49e-f0492d143d44To create an authoritative text, you need to wait until the tinkering by the SQA is done. “People want to have something that they can open up and use,” he explains; they need to be patient at times in order to create a high quality, accurate product. Within that there are additional opportunities to spark interest and differentiate themselves using exercises, hints and tips, word banks, glossaries and so on.

The process, editorially speaking, can be much the same as with trade as there is a back-and-forth needed to refine the initial manuscripts and get them to the required standard; this is aided by peer reviews, which also gives the author a sounding board during the writing process. Author input doesn’t stop there. They help with design aspects, making sure the diagrams and images used are correctly placed and accurate.

As for the future of publishing, he says, it’s digital. They’re looking to expand their content onto a digital, interactive, fee-based platform. Being part of a larger company mitigates the risk of embarking on this project, something which they likely could not afford to risk quite yet themselves. It is new, but with tightening school budgets, they would offer free samples and justify that the appetite for such a service is there from both sides.

In Scotland, we’re lucky to have a stable curriculum, where other countries in the United Kingdom have a more volatile and politically sensitive system. In that situation, it can be a boost to publishing, but can also prove difficult to plan ahead.

Throughout his time with Leckie & Leckie, he feels that the Scottish education system itself, being different to elsewhere in the UK, made them able to retain their brand identity despite being acquired by numerous companies, which is a nice thought to end an interesting talk!


The 2014 Eduwiki Conference

February 3rd, 2015 by Crystal Butungi Rutangye | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The 2014 Eduwiki Conference
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By Crystal B. Rutangye

10866820_323451407857080_1957826361_nOn Friday, 31st October, members of the MLitt Publishing Studies class attended the 2014 Eduwiki conference organised by Wikimedia UK. It took place in the St Leonard’s Hall at the University of Edinburgh.

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) is a non-profit organisation registered in the USA, which believes in and supports the creation and free-sharing of knowledge. Thus, the WMF runs several projects and partners with organisations to this effect. Some of the commonest WMF projects include the Wikimedia Commons, Wikiquote, Wikisource, and the well-known world’s biggest encyclopaedia; Wikipedia. The projects and organisations are often organised under geographical chapters. Wikimedia UK is the United Kingdom’s chapter.

Eduwiki is an annual conference that focuses on Wikimedia’s education-based projects. This last Eduwiki conference at the University of Edinburgh was the third annual conference. It was a one-day event that majorly encompassed discussions on the possibilities of using Wikipedia as an educational tool in academic institutions, especially of higher learning.

10863471_1558436801060354_510952414_nAfter welcome remarks by Toni Sant, the Wikimedia UK Education Organiser, the conference was opened by Peter McColl, the Rector of the University of Edinburgh. A keynote presentation was then given by Floor Koudijs, the Senior Manager of the Wikipedia Education Programme at the Wikimedia Foundation. He introduced a few of the education-based projects that are funded by Wikimedia, world-wide.

Koudij’s session was followed by presentations by three Wikimedians in residence across the education sector; Marc Haynes, Martin Poulter and Andy Mabett. A ‘Wikimedian in Residence’ is a placement in an institution taken up by a Wikimedia editor, who ‘facilitates a close working relationship between the WMF and the institution, and serves as an Ambassador for open knowledge within the host organisation’.

Marc shared his experiences with Welsh Wicipedia and Porth Esboniadur while he was in residence at Coleg Cymraeg in Wales.

Martin Poulter gave a talk on the benefits of Wikimedia comprehension exercises. He taught useful tools in Wikipedia that were new to many attendants, like the translations tool.

10846516_1558436791060355_1155340658_nAndy Mabett, Wikipedian in residence at ORCID and at the Royal Society of Chemistry, gave an enlightening talk on the use of ORCID in education. ORCID is a technology that provides a researcher with a permanent digital identifier, which distinguishes him/her from other researchers. The researcher integrates their identifier into all their online papers, submissions and other research workflows, making all their work and activities more easily recognisable. It also removes any confusion arising from distinguishing works of researchers who have similar names!

After a hearty tea/coffee break, attendants settled down to the showcasing of two Wikimedia UK supported projects. First, Brian Kelly and Filip Maljkovic gave an overview of Wikimedia projects in the UK and in Serbia. Serbia had never had Wikimedia educational events till they partnered with Wikimedia UK. They had held cultural or religious events, but not educational ones. After Brian and Filip came Kate Dorney who is the Senior Curator of V&A Museum and a TaPRA Research Officer. TaPRA is the Theatre and Performance Research Association, one that ‘exists in order to facilitate research through and into theatre and performance’. The TaPRA-Wikimedia project involves encouraging researchers to post some of their work on Wikimania project websites and on Wikipedia. One challenge of this is the reluctance of researchers to participate in the project, citing insecurities over the fact that Wikepedia information is undated, and offers no protection through copyright. Nevertheless, with more workshops, training, publicity and more convincing, researchers have increasingly got on board. Regular reports on their collaboration with Wikimania will be provided, so that other projects can learn from them.

Greg Singh, a lecturer in Communications, Media and Culture from the University of Stirling, showcased his experiences using Wikipedia as a teaching tool. His students worked on a Wikibook project; the Digital Media and Culture Yearbook 2014, which can be found on the Wikibooks web-page. He set students in groups so that they could appreciate the experience of being part of a research community. Some key things students learnt during this project, apart from general research and academic writing skills, were global communications over different time zones (group members residing in different countries had to figure out the best hours to work with each other), editing confidence, and digital knowledge. They did have challenges too; some students ended up ‘trawling because the group work was subject to miscommunication and toxic disinhibition’ among others.

After Greg, Ally Crockford, a Wikimedian in residence at the National Library of Scotland, led a discussion on ‘Education Matters in Scotland.’ She quoted a few statistics on the state of education and literacy in Scotland, and then opened the floor to the audience for reactions and possible solutions. Some facts she cited are ‘Scotland is the most highly educated nation in Europe, yet a quarter of Scotland’s population still struggles with illiteracy in their daily life,’ and ‘one in eight people in Scotland have never used the internet.’

Reactions to her presentation led the discussion back to a theme that had quite been running through every session the whole day; ‘Can academic institutions accept Wikipedia as a certifiable reference source?’ Ally alluded to Martin’s session earlier to suggest that Wikipedia can begin to be used in class rooms as early as in primary school, to help reduce illiteracy levels and poor internet skills. However, no solution was given to the challenge that Wikipedia, being an open resource, can be edited by anyone, making the credibility of its information questionable and unreliable for research. It was concluded that Wikipedia is a great starting point in one’s research or general quest for knowledge, but it cannot yet be cited in academic papers.

At this point, the conference broke off for a lunch break after which interested participants broke up into three sessions; one for new campus ambassadors and educators, another with an intermediate session for campus ambassadors and educators, and a third for students under 18, on Wikipedia projects in schools.


Holidaying in Sepia: thoughts of a postmodern luddite

January 23rd, 2015 by Alec Spencer | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Holidaying in Sepia: thoughts of a postmodern luddite
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Lanz2I once said to my son, who is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, that the medical profession should get ready for cases of phone-itis. All he did was to laugh. And since then he sometimes recalls what I said and laughs again. I can’t see what’s so stupid about my observation? After all, with the development of the typewriter and the keyboard doctors are seeing cases of repetitive strain injury – all those fingers seizing up!

Just walk along the street and every other person is on their mobile phone, talking to someone – somewhere on this planet. Perhaps they are not really doing so? If they are lonely, friendless, then perhaps they are only pretending to speak to someone else – so that others will think they are just like them. And of course, those with ear-phones – so that they appear to be talking to themselves, or arguing violently with themselves – no wonder our mental health services are so overloaded. And those blue-tooth earpieces, with little blinking blue lights – we now have remote controlled aliens driving our taxis.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, people walking around holding their phones to their ears and chattering away. Now, I know that when I do that, after a few minutes I start getting aches in my muscles around my elbow. So I switch arms for a few minutes, then back again and so on. The pain is not quite tennis elbow, which can come from a burst of activity in the arm muscles – but I’ve not done any decorating or violin playing recently. So, I thought phone-itis would describe the phenomenon – and since millions of people are always on their phones – then a proportion of these will start suffering similar pains. “So get ahead of the rest of the medical profession and ‘discover’ and treat phone-itis“, I said. He just laughed.

What is the world coming to? Everybody appears to need a personal communication device of some sort. Some people have a range of them – their mobile phone, a tablet, a computer, a notepad and so on. I remember going into a mobile phone shop and asking for something that was just a phone. They laughed. It had a megapixel camera, wifi and bluetooth connectivity, and it could connect to the G8 or something like that. It had GPS, email, diaries and could probably have switched on my washing machine remotely, since it could seemingly control my television and probably attempt to control my life. It had applications by the score – so I had better call them apps. And it had games so that I could spend all day moving bricks around a screen, killing-off pac-men or playing solitaire. I think it also had a device for phoning home or friends hidden among the icons for facebook or twitter. Did I want to occupy the Cloud – or was that simply where my head was?

So I have my personal communication device and I can send messages in so many ways that by the time I have decided whether it is better to send it via the phone signal or wifi, and whether it should be an SMS text, email, twitter or whatever, I have forgotten what it was I was going to say.

It is wonderful to be able to Skype or Facetime ones friends and family. But why do they always seem to want to make visual contact while I am sitting on the loo?

Do we really need to be connected to the rest of the world? Is it important to know what one’s @personal_guru is thinking or eating for #breakfast? Who do you follow? A football player? A pop-star, fashion icon, writer, politician, fruit-and-nut-case, artist, your boss or a friend? And why? What is so important about reading their latest whim or comment, re-tweet or joke?

Now, I can have new aspirations. My social media presence needs a makeover. I’m a social nobody if I don’t have at least 500k followers or if my latest YouTube submission hasn’t gone viral. How can I live in cyberspace and hold up my head with only 53 followers and 69 hits?

I am thinking about my next holiday in the sun and worrying about whether I will remember to take the phone and ipad chargers and the European travel plugs. And then, when we are away wherever we are in the world, we will have to make sure that we take pictures of ourselves relaxing by the pool, reading a book and drinking sangria and send them off as proof that we are actually there. When we saw those first pictures of an American space ship landing on the moon, there were loads of conspiracy theories offering an alternative view that the landings were filmed in a studio somewhere. So we are on holidays and ask at reception for the wifi code, and we get a small piece of paper with some strange hieroglyphics which would make MI5 proud. Or will I just use the guest wifi in the café next door? Do we really want to know the temperature for the next two days or that Andy Murray has blown it again at the quarter-finals?

I’m thinking about a relaxing holiday – if that’s not an oxymoron? Reading my printed book on the plane without having to close it on take-off and landing. Being able to enjoy a meal without getting a phone call from an ambulance chasing law firm asking me if I’ve been sold PPI, or doing a Sudoku in the morning without having to contemplate an urgent email. How did we all survive when the world was only in black and white? Did we just forget about others and simply enjoy the here and now?

Can we still find peace and calm in a modern world? The Pope now uses twitter to communicate with his flock. Even he will want to put down his mobile when he turns to prayer? Perhaps there will be a notice in church that reads “No tweeting during services (unless to @God)”.

So I hope for a quiet, technological free, time on holidays. Now all of you can have a laugh!


The Indigenous Literary Foundation in Australia

January 23rd, 2015 by Paula De Lucas Gudiel | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Indigenous Literary Foundation in Australia

ILFWhen it comes to spreading literature, there are several associations that are focused on this matter. One of them is the Indigenous Literary Foundation in Australia, winner of the International Education Initiatives at the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards. The article in Publishing Perspectives gives us a glimpse at what this foundation is attempting to do.

In 2004, Suzy Wilson originated this Literary Foundation with the aim of expanding literacy levels to remote indigenous communities.

Karen-Williams-en-route-to-Alice-SpringsKaren Williams, one of the members of ILF, has been on almost 20 field trips that have taken her to Kimberley in Western Australia, in order to reach a community of 80 people. These trips also include a community on the edge of the Great Sandy Dessert, called Warburton, with 500 members, or even to the Tiwi Islands, having to fly in an light aircraft off the coast of Darwin. Not only that, but early this year, Williams and other members flew to what is known as the remotest community in Australia: Tjuntjuntjara. In order to accomplish this, they had to take an eight-hour- long flight from Perth, then a three-hour flight to Kalgoorie and drive for eight more hours. The ILF has been involved with this community for a long period of time. They have helped pupils to work on a book that is based on their school garden, and it’s called How Does Your Garden Grow and two years ago, some students and elders were brought to Sydney to participate in the charity’s Indigenous Literacy Day. This event was very important for them, for they had never been in a big city or even seen a plane before. They had never left their community, but during that visit, they even had the chance to visit a bookshop.

The Indigenous Literary Foundation has delivered more than 120,000 free books to more than 230 remote communities, and it has published and funded more than 40 books, including some of them in aboriginal languages.

Definitely, the job that the ILF is doing in order to reach isolated communities in Australia is very so successful that they can proudly show it in all the achievements they have accomplished.

– Paula de Lucas Gudiel.


Literature ingrained in society

January 16th, 2015 by Marit Mathisen | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Literature ingrained in society
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Where do the popular knock knock jokes come from? Some people say they are from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and they are not the only thing coming from literature to become something everyone says.

The most obvious type of literature people might quote without knowing they are quoting it, would be religious texts, but there are many other areas in which literature is being used on a daily basis. For instance, it should not come as a surprise that catch-22 comes from the novel of the same title, but people might use that without having even seen a copy of the book.

Do you, for instance, know why you say something is “a sight for sore eyes”? The saying is attributed to Jonathan Swift, who in A Complete Collection of Genteel and Ingenious Conversation wrote “the sight of you is good for sore eyes”. Or did you know that the phrase “busy as a bee” is attributed to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales? Some research is likely to yield more examples like these, and Norway has one long quote from a book that is so ingrained in society that any Norwegian you ask will know what you are talking about, regardless of whether they have read the book it comes from.

What I am referring to is the “Law of Jante” or “Janteloven” in Norwegian. It was written by Aksel Sandemose, who was Danish, but lived in Norway. His writing was actually a combination of the two languages, but knowing that Norwegian writing is derived from Danish, either language is quite easy to understand. There are ten laws, and the gist of them is that whoever you are, you are not to think you are anything more special or better than “us”.

The English Wikipedia article on the law has the list translated:

  1. You’re not to think you are anything special.
  2. You’re not to think you are as good as we are.
  3. You’re not to think you are smarter than we are.
  4. You’re not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.
  5. You’re not to think you know more than we do.
  6. You’re not to think you are more important than we are.
  7. You’re not to think you are good at anything.
  8. You’re not to laugh at us.
  9. You’re not to think anyone cares about you.
  10. You’re not to think you can teach us anything.

The law is so ingrained that whenever someone acts too confident they are told to remember the law of Jante. The Norwegian people police each other with these rules, as do Danes and Swedes. Can you think of anything borrowed from literature that is completely ingrained in the society you come from?

These ideas might make you wonder what will be in use in everyday language in the future. Will muggle become an everyday term? And if so, what would it mean? What other words, phrases and ideas might become the norm in the future?


Beautiful Gift Books

January 12th, 2015 by Leia Forster | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Beautiful Gift Books
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Something that has always caught my attention in book shops is books with wonderful production value; thick paper, glossy images and gold embossing. If a book has gold embossing, I need it in my life. While run-of-the-mill paperbacks can be great purchases if you’re an avid reader, when it comes to giving books as gifts I feel there’s a need to choose something a little more special. If like me you are at a loss for what to buy someone this Christmas, read ahead and behold the beautiful gift books of my choosing.

The Barnes and Nobles Leatherbound Series



An affordable and wonderfully produced collection of books. Ranging from the classics to science fiction and non-fiction, you can tell a lot of thought has gone into the cover designs for each individual book. With an extremely reasonable RRP price of £25 a book, there’s no reason not to have several of these on your shelf. Many of the editions have several books within their pages, and the quality of production almost makes you feel bad for paying so little. The image to the right is just one example of the illustrations that can be found in these books. This particular one is from Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

Mister Finch, Living in a Fairytale World

mr finch 5For anyone interested in quirky art, this is the book for you. Mister Finch is a textile artist from Leeds who creates fabric fairytale creatures ranging from huge bees to dead canaries. Have you ever wondered what it might be like to have cat sized moths in the world? Mister Finch has.

This book showcases the best of his work with wonderfully photographed, glossy full colour images, and the cover could be considered art itself with the intricate metallic embossing.

mr finch 3mr finch 2

Folio Society & Gollancz H.G.Wells Classics

H. G. Wells Set [3 Vols] Classics of Science Fiction The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds - Folio SocietyThe Folio Society prides themselves on their extremely high standards of book design and production. Amongst my favourites is this collection of H.G.Wells Classics complete with illustrations. This lovely edition is however out of print, but can be still be found through online retailers with a price tag of around £65.

If that’s a little over budget, Gollancz published a series of cheaper but equally as charming H.G.Wells books. This edition of The Shape of Things to Come was recently featured in the hit TV show, The Walking Dead.

classic collection hgwells

These are just a few of the many particularly special books in circulation that could make fantastic gifts. If these aren’t quite what you were looking for, I hope this post gives you the inspiration to find something suitable for that book-loving friend or family member.


Visiting Speaker: Dr Sam Rayner

January 7th, 2015 by Callum Mitchell Walker | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker: Dr Sam Rayner
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On Thursday the 4th December we enjoyed the last visiting speaker of the semester, Dr Sam Rayner, the Director of the Centre for Publishing at the University College of London (UCL). Dr Rayner’s talk focused on her paper ‘Star Texts: The Next Generation’ in which she explores the dynamic modern world of publishing and its impact and potential impact on teaching and learning in society. Dr Rayner analyses the way in which publishers edit and package content for new readers and new markets, the shaping of the literary canon, and the emergence and significance of several types of ‘Star Texts’. Before beginning her talk, Dr Rayner pre-warned us of her use of Star Trek puns (which she admitted she had toned down), however the class was eager to hear about her research on ‘Star Texts’.

But what does Dr Rayner mean by Star Texts?

Dr Rayner began by expressing that throughout her academic and professional life (whether it be teaching, research, working in libraries or bookselling), texts and their status and consumption have been fundamental. This made her interested in observing how we read, keep, study and rate books. As a literary and publishing researcher, Dr Rayner recognised that certain terms related to texts with cultural standing—‘The Canon’ and ‘The Classic’, have “become elusive and complicated by two other means of quality control”—‘The Prize Winners’ and ‘The Book Club Recommendations’. Dr Rayner collectively calls these four groups ‘Star Texts’, and argued, “these texts create clusters in the impossible constellation of the research environment that they belong to”. This term, ‘impossible constellation’ comes from Prof. Ruth Mateus-Berr from the University of Applied Art Vienna, during a conference on artistic research, and she used the term to attempt to describe the “several contradictory methods, understandings and histories” that could be applied to artistic research. Dr Rayner believes that this ‘constellation’ was a particularly useful way of understanding how texts exist in the 21st Century. Her research therefore focuses on the tension between a literary work, and the responses to the literary work in question. Dr Rayner suggested that whilst the text remains unchanged, there is a constant transformative process of the work, born out of the interaction and response from each specific reader.

‘The Classic’

Dr Rayner went on to discuss importance of the transformative star text group of ‘The Classic’. These texts, Dr Rayner argued, are those that most commonly stand the test of time. But what makes a text a ‘Classic’? Dr Rayner pointed out that scholars have very varied views on this question. The ‘Classic’, academics argue, should arguably be “timelessly appealing” and “elevate its author to the status of a god”. Dr Rayner also added that ‘Classics’ can be very subjective, and one individual’s list of ‘Classic’ texts won’t necessarily be the same as that of another individual. However, we do find a curated ‘Classics’ section in a bookshop, and publishers for centuries have created ‘Classic’ lists. This type of text is chosen, designed and marketed by publishers rather than academics (not suggesting they are purely commercial products, however). Dr Rayner asserted that the ‘Classic’ should appeal to every type of reader. She also pointed out that publishers such as Penguin attempt to modernise by means of packaging, engaging with digital, and marketing these timeless texts.

‘The Canon’

Dr Rayner next went on to explain another type of ‘Star Text’ known as ‘The Canon’. The establishment sets this group for primarily educational purposes and to define identities within culture. This type of text exists to represent the view of the individual and the preservation of tradition. Dr Rayner went on to discuss how texts have become ‘canonised’ in education through curriculum and have moved away from chronological presentation, towards a clear genre focused syllabi of texts. ‘The Canon’, Dr Rayner believes is undergoing a time of extreme change, and the impact of celebrity culture and national feeling are determining the way texts are canonised in education. Dr Rayner also addressed the issue of whether or not students should be given a prescribed reading list, as arguably this is a means of industrially restraining the individual’s imagination. Perhaps a more effective system would rather encourage young people to love reading and get into a habit of it, Dr Rayner shared to the argument.

‘Prize Winning Fiction’

The next type of ‘Star Text’ Dr Rayner explained was the ‘Prize Winning Fiction’ category. Dr Rayner argued that in the modern world of publishing, being nominated for literary prizes quite often means being read or not being read by the reading public. Dr Rayner also discussed how effective creative writing courses are in the emergence of this type of text and the development of a synergy between academics, creative writing and publishing bestsellers. The question was also raised over what should constitute as a ‘prize winner’. Should it be by measured by unit sales or by its literary quality? Furthermore, who should decide on these status elevated texts? Academics, publishers or readers?

‘The Book Club Recommendations’

Following on from Dr Rayner’s previous group of ‘Star Texts’ was the final group of ‘Book Club Recommendations’. This group can also be a prizewinner, but experiences the treatment of being associated with a well-known figure or celebrity. In these cases, the power of an individual’s brand is worth thousands in sales of a title if they have been selected as part of their ‘book club’. This phenomenon arguably gave the book back its ‘social history’ and within these book clubs, the well-known figure(s) (such as Oprah or Richard and Judy) play an active role in choosing, recommending and associating themselves with a title. Dr Rayner described how in a sense these individuals act as mediators between the author’s text and the audience. Book clubs show more than any other type of ‘Star Text’ the tension between the cultural and the commercial that exists in the book trade.

Merely ‘Solar Flares’ or Eternal ‘Burning Stars’?

Dr Rayner developed her argument by observing the conflict between cultural and academic responses of texts and the importance of reader interaction and marketing campaigns on the success of these titles. In the vast ‘constellation’ of texts in the current market, Dr Rayner believes that grouping these ‘Star Texts’ helps us to identify what drives us when we choose what we are reading. The development of technology also makes the text organic, with digital transforming the way in which we read, store and share text. Dr Rayner’s paper raised several interesting debates on the textual environment and what defines a text as a ‘Star’ and indeed what cultural, academic and commercial forces play a part. By the end of Dr Rayner’s talk, we were ready to “boldly go where no researchers have gone before” and explore the future of ‘Star Texts’ and textual constellations!