Pippa Hennesy writes: This year's Nottinghamshire/Nottingham Libraries Readers' Day was the first to be sponsored by a publisher (Vintage), which could have been a problem but as it turned out gave the day an interesting slant. The publisher's representatives were keen to engage with readers, as was demonstrated by the two parallel sessions I attended. In the morning, we were taken through the process of designing a book cover. It's very different from the Five Leaves process - it involves editorial and design teams and sales teams and (eventually) the author... we brief a designer and comment on what they come back with, and try to involve the author at all stages, the occasional book cover even being designed by the author. Interestingly, Vintage don't consult readers as a rule. Until yesterday, that is. They showed us seven possible covers for a set of crime fiction books by one of their writers and asked our opinions. The reaction (widely varying opinions, with the majority saying 'we don't like any of them') might have discouraged them from doing so again. Still, we at Five Leaves Towers learned a lot - expect more stunning cover designs from now on.
In the afternoon I went to a session with Alison Hennessey from Random House and one of their authors about 'The Future of Publishing'. Fascinating stuff, lots of discussion and debate. The answer is, of course, 'nobody knows'. If you ask me, there is a future for both books and e-books, but they have different futures. At the moment there isn't much to tell between them - effectively they're both containers for words. I think printed books will become 'beautiful objects' in their own right, and e-books will make much more use of the possibilities of the technology... whatever those might be. Watch this space.
Apart from that, we listened to David Lodge and a trio of historical fiction authors, talked to lots of lovely people and even sold quite a few books. We sold TWO copies of Rose Fyleman's Fairy Book (hoorah!) and two of Swimmers in the Secret Sea by William Kotzwinkle - a sadly-neglected but absolutely beautiful novella which is currently our worst-selling book. It is my mission to change that status - buy it! you won't regret it!
Many thanks to the indomitable Sheelagh Gallagher and the invincible Jane Brierley, and the folks at Vintage, for a fantastic day.
Meanwhile, up in Fife, our J. David Simons was on the frontline at another Readers' Day.