Friday, September 18, 2015
As promised last week, we’ll focus this time on the impact that New Trends in Publishing (#bicnewtrends @BIC1UK) can have on production departments and suppliers such as printers. Mike Levaggi is Group Production Director at HarperCollins and he came to the BIC Seminar to tell us a bit more about the digital print revolution.
Publishing is changing, I think we’re all aware of that. There is an increasing number of titles and a decreasing run length: publishers tend to print short runs to adapt to their business model.
E-books and e-readers create extensive back lists and encourage print on demand. In this context, digital print is growing rapidly and is replacing offset printing. Print on demand requires publishers to move fast: you don’t print a book unless there is an order for it (“book of one”, down to one copy). The same way short print runs have increased changeover time and put pressure on conventional printing. Print runs are getting shorter and smaller orders are driving administrative issues for both printer and publisher which changes the workflows in production departments.
To face these changes, printers and manufacturers are tooling up, investing in a range of digital technologies to be able to print faster and shorter at a better cost. Inkjet quality is improving, as well as costs. Equipment suppliers work on higher resolution.
Digital printing is a lot faster, it increases flexibility and minimises turnaround times. Digital accelerates cash-flows.
What’s next? Mike has been talking to a lot of publishing professionals, printers and suppliers and according to them, the industry is facing the biggest change since print moved from film to computer. The technology will continue to improve, driving cost and quality benefits. More titles will be kept available without increasing inventory. Workflows will develop rapidly in all parts of the supply chain. And the pace of change is going to be increased.
Friday, September 11, 2015
I was very pleased to attend the BIC Seminar about New Trends in Publishing last Wednesday (#bicnewtrends @BIC1UK). We were invited in the very impressive Stationers’ Hall to hear all about the latest trends in publishing and what we can expect for the future.
Chris McCrudden (Head of Technology and New Media at Midas PR) and Jane Tappuni (Executive Vice President of Business Development at Publishing Technology) got the ball rolling, revealing the 5 top trends in trade publishing nowadays.
The first one is “Direct to Consumer Publishing”: to grow publishers’ need to understand and find out who their customers are. All publishers know how to cultivate their B2C relationships. A good example of this is what HarperCollins did with their virtual Romance festival last year. This was a clever way to develop their relationship marketing and to build their community activity. Publishers also focus on creating buying opportunities (D2C ecommerce) and leveraging their brand offer (memberships).
The second top trend is “Mobile reading”: 14 million Kindles and 2.5 billion mobile reading devices were sold in 2015. Are people reading on their mobile phone? Yes, they are!
Phones are getting bigger and bigger and reading on a mobile is getting more and more comfortable. There are now publishers creating specific content for mobile reading.
The third top trend in Trade publishing is “The Power of Fandom”. If you haven’t heard of it yet (where were you?), fandom is basically people creating content on fan fiction websites. I can hear you say “Why should we take this seriously?” As Chris and Jane pointed out, millions of people create and consume fan fiction. Wattpad, a host for fan fiction content, counts 40 million users! And when fan fiction hits the mainstream it goes big! The best example of that is Fifty Shades of Grey. It started life as a piece of Twilight fan fiction and we know what happened next…
The fourth trend is “Growing pains for eBook subscription”. Chris and Jane revealed that if the book subscription services have grown they haven’t grown quickly enough. Most of the members consume a lot of books and this doesn’t generate a lot of money.
The last top trend fiction is “Content as Marketing”: authors have been creating content that brands would pay for: Jonathan Safran Foer and Toni Morrison wrote original content for coffee cups:
These are the 5 top trends in trade publishing according to Chris and Jane. It is quite fascinating to see how the industry evolves and we’ll see in the part 2 of this blogs how this evolution impacts other parts of the business such as printers.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Yesterday I was lucky enough to be able to attend the New Trends in Publishing Seminar, hosted by BIC and sponsored by Nielsen and Ricoh. I don’t start my Publishing course until the end of this month but since I’m now finally in London, home of publishing events, I thought I should get started early!
The event was held in the absolutely beautiful Stationers’ Hall (I wish I’d taken some photos of the inside) with stunning stained glass windows and wide open rooms filled with dark wood furniture. There were six us of there from UCL and Alaina-Marie made us feel so welcome and included – publishing really is the best industry.
The seminar consisted of five talks, with the obligatory coffee break half way through: 5 Top Trends for Trade Publishers (Jane Tappuni and Chris McCrudden), The Digital Print Revolution (Mike Levaggi), Publishing as a Service (Alison Jones), Building Better Brands with Neuroscience (Andre Breedt) and finally New EU White Paper – Single European Digital Market (Susie Winter).
The Trends for Trade Publishers was definitely my favourite segment of the seminar, discussing the rise of fandoms, fanfic and how publishing can learn from this highly social way of reading. Sites like Wattpad allow for high levels of personal interactivity with the story, keeping its audience engaged with the whole experience from conception to publication. The speed to market is something we can also learn a lot from, as the author is able to instantly share their work and receive feedback. Impatient online audiences simultaneously love the anticipation of serialised stories but will lose attention if they have to wait too long. In traditional publishing, it could be 12-18+ months between novels, but online it can be anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
I also really enjoyed the contemplation of eBook subscription services such as Scribd. We were significantly behind other industries in the conception of these services (think Netflix and Spotify but for books) but that does mean we have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. While Scribd seems to be growing in popularity, Jane and Chris considered if it was potentially attracting the ‘wrong’ kind of customers – ones that go through a mountain of content and end up eventually costing the company money in the long run. It was interesting to hear the business side of this situation, as it’s very easy just to think about the service as a user. I’ll definitely be more aware in future of how much content I’m using – hopefully services like Scribd will be able to fix these teething problems sooner rather than later.
The neuroscience talk with Andre was insanely interesting. He spoke about an alternative option to traditional consumer insight tactics, as these methods assume that the participants can accurately comprehend, access and articulate their thoughts and feelings – we can all be unreliable when self-reporting all sorts of situations from how much we drink to our favourite books depending on how we assume other people will judge us. Andre explained how neuroscience can access the instinctual, fast, emotional thinking that proves valuable in narrowing down how resonant an image or advert (for example) truly is.
Learning about digital printing and the EU Digital Single Market was really interesting – as a publishing newbie it’s always great to hear about current affairs direct from the people who know these issues inside out. It can be a little unnerving to hear how difficult it is to be in the industry at the moment, but I’m excited to try innovate new trends and help push publishing forward as the world becomes increasingly reliant on digital.
I really enjoyed this event and just wanted to say thank you to Alaina-Marie at BIC for the opportunity and to all the speakers for bringing such interesting and thought-provoking ideas. I’m so excited to finally get started with my course at UCL now that I’ve had a taste of the London publishing scene – the countdown to Induction Week begins!
Monday, August 3, 2015
In my role as Reprint Controller for Macmillan Education I work on all production aspects of reprints for backlist titles. This involves preparing print specifications and sourcing cost estimates from suppliers. I was immediately excited about the prospect of 'An Introduction to Production' – the course outline comprehensively covered many aspects of Production I wished to build upon and gain further knowledge of. I have a particular interest in learning about the different print, bind and finishing methods and how to know when to apply these methods in my day to day work. As a Reprint Controller I only ever deal with titles which have gone through many Production concept stages so I was also interested in learning about pre-press processes such as scheduling and how these stages can affect decisions when it comes to the point of reprinting titles.
Prior to the course, I had not had or attended any formal Production written courses, training or exams – instead, all my Production knowledge was practical based or acquired through working. It was due to this that I thought applying for the BIC bursary would be greatly beneficial – I thought that the course itself and the formal assessment component would allow me to put my practical knowledge to the test and enable me to expand my Production knowledge.
I found that the information provided about the course and what to expect from the course was very informative and allowed me to, not only to book the course with ease, but also to apply for the bursary with ease. I found the communication from and information received from BIC employees to be helpful, particularly when it came to the tube strike on the morning of the course!
I found the subject matter discussed throughout the course of the day to be interesting. As previously mentioned, I went into the course wanting to gain further understanding of pre-press processes and the coverage of paper types, the technicalities of the printing process and, particularly, the colour management process certainly added to my understanding.
I think the seminar format of the day helped information and discussion to flow easily – everyone was able to openly discuss problems they had encountered and any questions they had, and the format meant that problems and questions were answered and also posed to the rest of the group. The use of example binding methods and example proofs also helped to give a visual and hands on perspective alongside the seminar style learning.
As someone with experience in only educational publishing I did find the course weighted towards trade as opposed to educational publishing however I actually found that this helped with my understanding and made me think of situations and scenarios not previously thought about. The trainer’s anecdotes and obvious experience with a multitude of publishers, printers and situations also helped me to think outside of the box.
Overall, I found the course to be very informative and my objectives of learning more about specific production processes were certainly met – I would definitely recommend this course to a friend/colleague.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
I had been impatiently waiting for this training course to take place; I was very excited to learn as much as I could about book production. The description promised to offer a comprehensive introduction to the most significant processes. By the end of the day, I indeed walked away much more knowledgeable.
My personal experience in book production was rather limited prior to this training course. I knew the general aspects, processes, work flows and requirements. What I sought to learn from this course were the particular techniques that someone in production needs to be aware of in order to make the appropriate decisions that will benefit both the product and the company. There could not have been a better trainer than Heather O’Connell to accomplish this; she provided all the information and advice gathered from years’ worth of experience on the sector.
The areas discussed during the course were diverse enough to cover the most vital parts of production. One of the first things I learnt was paper types and how knowing all the features of each type can affect the quality of your end product. The key information acquired from this topic was the need to make the right decisions that best suit your project. The cautionary anecdotes that Heather shared for potential pitfalls when choosing paper were invaluable. What I found particularly useful and interesting was how there are certain tricks the production department can opt for to transform a simple paper to something more.
The introduction to colour management and proofing profiles was quite important for me. It is essential to be aware of how colour changes from its digital screen version to the printed version. I also learnt how viewing a proof under certain lighting conditions can alter the actual colour of it. Regarding proofing types, I believe this to be a core knowledge needed to provide the best and most accurate quality for a certain product. Heather was excellent at explaining the features of each proofing type and how to choose the best one for your project. As an addition to this, the course discussed the different printing methods available and the advantages and disadvantages of each process. I was not aware of the indigo/toner based printing and its qualities, so this bit of information was quite valuable. What is more, the various samples provided to help illustrate the printing process were quite effective. Furthermore, the information given on cover finishes proved to be quite illuminating for me. I found out that some techniques do not work so well with certain colours, while others add cost and time to the printing process.
One of the concluding topics was how to select a printer and request a print price. This is invaluable knowledge to bear in mind as it can affect the whole supply chain, as well as the publisher’s finances. Some of the things discussed were issues that a lot of people may not consider as substantial when choosing a printer. The examples Heather presented from her experiences showed how socio-political issues — or even weather conditions — can affect both the price and the turnaround time of book production.
Overall, the ‘Introduction to Production’ training course gave as thorough an overview as possible. It was an excellent opportunity to learn more about production and its various functions within the publishing process. What I treasured most was all the information about alternative options and little tricks that can save money — and perhaps time too — or that can make some features stand out more. I am absolutely positive that all the advice given throughout the course will prove very valuable in the nearby future.