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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Publishing Scotland Conference 2012

Edinburgh, 27 February, 2012 - As part of the group from Stirling International Center for Publishing and Communication, I attended my first business conference in Scotland at the Royal College of Physicians, which was also the first time that Publishing Scotland opened its doors to publishing Students, thus bringing down the average age of the conference-attendee by a couple of decades at least, joked a member. The CEO Marion Sinclair's welcome address made it clear at the outset that 'the walls had been breached', and disintermediation was a clear concern for the present and future. Subsequent speakers' presentations were filled with running metaphors of marriage (wedding cake, pre nuptials, divorce etc.), but there was moderate positive feeling in the air for *what was to come* with book buying, book selling, and book publishing. 

With my classmates images courtsey Publishing Scotland
Photographer: Sandy Young

With Printers' Exhibits during lunchtime
Photographer: Sandy Young
I particularly enjoyed the keyote address by Mr. Alan Clements, Director of content, STV who mentioned the lack of communication between Scottish book publishers and producers resulting in the lack of quality local ideas to improve Scottish programming at STV as he analysed the pressing trend to homogenize Scottish identity in the sea of mainstream English programming and future gazed into what lay ahead for media and the culture. Steve Bohme from Book Marketing Limited enchanted everyone with his allusions to confetti in explaining the key retail market trends and increasing relationship between book buyers, book sellers and book publishers. The talk by David Walters of Nielsen further addressed the overall decline in all genres in the Scottish book market in 2011. Jon Reed, offered his social media marketing expertise, even if he came down as a bit of a repetition from the slides of our regular classroom sessions (his miles-wide internet presence to thank!), as he waned on about harnessing our social media impact in the usual ways. There was an immensely uplifting talk about Metadata,  a panel that brought together leaders of small publishing enterprises showcasing the very small scale (size) of Scottish publishing. Representation from the Society of Authors brought to the fore nightmare stories about agents and publishers and the surge of hope that e-publishing brought for authors. An interesting segment by two Edinburgh and Glasgow libraries' direction of/partnership with cultural festivals, and their ambitions of a library imprint, emphasized their growing importance in the publishing value chain, offering much fodder for thought as well. 

All in all, a very insightful daylong session, that as some argued, begged for some London perspective also. The panel discussion on Apps, entrepreneurship and the new Scottish publishing was useful, but a lot more could have been talked about the digital format of the book. 

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