For the past couple of days I have been travelling from South London to King Cross to attend my first Book Industry conference. On arrival the first thing I did was scan the delegate list to find a friend. There was an impressive array of publishers, booksellers, the BBC, Sainsbury’s and representatives from various book fairs and festivals but it seemed that I was the only delegate who was attending as an author. No pressure on me then to pay attention, take notes and speak up then!
There was so much information to absorb and consider but as the theme of the conference was ‘The Creative Heart’ here are five things that I heard that made my creative heart beat a little faster,
1. Working TogetherMore than ever publishers, booksellers, libraries, the media and authors have to communicate and work together. Tony Durcan, Director of Culture, Libraries and Lifelong Learning for Newcastle City Council’s message was that libraries were a network to die for. Oren Teicher of the American Booksellers Association outlined new business practices between publishers and booksellers that were being piloted to give books a shelf life longer than milk or yoghurt.
2. Embrace new technologyDotti Irving of Colman Getty consultancy emphasised the importance of Twitter but also cautioned care in how you use it. Daniel Greaves of Tandem Films showed ‘Simon’s Cat' ,the Youtube phenomenon made by colleague Simon Tofield which went on to secure a pubishing deal. He then showed some animated trailers he had made for Canongate Books. Here is one I made earlier
http://youtu.be/7eo8XpT4CmM3. Get LocalBooksellers need to build stronger ties with their local communities. One of the best ways of doing this is…..
4. Events, Events, EventsCameron Crow of Waterstone’s was one voice among many that emphasised the importance of author events. Events did not have to mean Big Names – personable local authors who were prepared to engage with customers can sell lots of copies too. Events do not have to always be held in bookshops. Patrick Neate holds his Book Slam events in bars and nightclubs.
5. Literacy MattersSir Richard Eyre spoke with eloquence and wit about how indispensable reading is to him. The more I hear about the work of Jane Davis and The Reader Organisation and how it transforms lives the warmer my heart becomes.
As well as being a moral imperative developing literacy makes good business sense.
Julia Kingsford, formerly of Foyles and now of World Book Night, asked all of us at the conference to develop the habit of taking a book as a gift instead of the usual chocolates or wine along to a dinner party. Perhaps we could also advocate the addition of a book into a children’s party bag or encourage the inclusion of a bedtime storybook for sleepovers? Or how about trying some reverse psychology and ‘forbidding’ young adults from attending Reading Groups?
I felt heartened by this conference, do you?