On Monday Kathryn and Sophie travelled across to Oxford Brookes to take part in their annual “Working in Publishing Day“. The uni arranges this day every year to give students the opportunity to talk to people working in and around the industry and this year we were really privileged to take part!

We talked to some really interested students about emc design; what we do, which publishers we work with and also generally about the importance of design within publishing. It was good to explain the different job functions within emc (we’re not all designers) and to show where students who have a qualification in publishing can really complement our design skills and work with us in the future. We hope to be seeing some of you soon again!

After the speed dating sessions David Shelley from Little, Brown gave an interesting talk on how fast the industry is changing still. He used audio books as an example of just what a huge shift has happened in a short space of time. 10 years ago Little, Brown were selling abridged versions of audio books on nearly an equal spilt between CD’s and Cassette’s. Within 6 years this shifted to mostly just CD’s and last year David shared the statistic that now over 90% of their sales are from un-abridged audio downloads meaning the distribution model for audio books has radically changed! And so has the sales model!

David also talked about the Trends that now drive what consumers buy. Trends seem to come and go much quicker and each trend is bigger than the last – for example, Harry Potter, Twilight and Fifty Shades. Little, Brown now have trend spotters who use Google search terms to try and anticipate what trends will be the next big thing. However, for publishers it’s also about managing risk and this is an area that has become more complex as the risk factors get higher.

David wrapped up by saying that Publishing is no longer going to remain at a steady pace and that this level of change is now the norm. This means that the workforce going into publishing requires a specific set of skills that perhaps traditionally wouldn’t have been asked of by the h.r department. Here are the top 5:

  1. Entrepreneurial – you need to have some business sense – how can you turn everything into a potential opportunity.
  2. Creativity – can you be creative in your thinking with launching new products, building new communities, fostering other people’s skills?
  3. Instinct – are you someone that waits for an instruction? Or do you go ahead with putting your ideas across and making it happen – David basically said to ignore instructions!
  4. Digital natives – people who don’t know what did/didn’t come before and who have always had access to the technology that is driving the industry. (although what does this mean for experience – we think there has to be a balance right?!)
  5. Diversity – Publishing has historically been a middle class industry. This is very damaging as Publishers are/will loose touch with audiences quickly, or not be able to connect with potential audiences at all! So ensuring the work force of the future is diverse is paramount!

We enjoyed the speed-dating so much we’ll be doing it all again next month at the London Book Fair where we will be at The IPG’s Meet The Innovator Zone – speed dating publishers and suppliers. So why not book a meeting with us via the IPG link here?