Friday, 1 February 2013

Inpress publishing day

So you want to be a rock and roll star? No, Rachael Ogden, who is moving on from Inpress, is not changing careers to be a lead singer in a rock'n'roll band but here she is introducing The Bookshop Band, the last event of a packed Inpress Festival of Publishing (and AGM of the group that represents 40+ small publishers) at the Free Word centre in London. The day was a new step for Inpress, drawing in many other small publishers, writers and students for a day of presentations and panels on aspects of small press publishing. It is hard to pick out a highlight but Martin Rowson set the scene with his journey from small presses to the major league and back again (to our chums at Smokestack). Along the way big publishers abandoned books when they were selling well, refused to supply books known to be in their warehouse when people were crying out for them or, in one case, having given him a rather large advance suggested that the book in question was seen as one suitable for word of mouth publicity... Martin of course knows how to fulminate. He also took part in a discussion on book jackets, with the designer Sally Castle and Chris Keith-Wright from Waterstones. Waterstones?  What were they doing there? Well, Chris does not hate us and had some very useful discussions with various publishers. He introduced a Five Leaves bay for three months when he was in Nottingham, and now in Picadilly - the company's flagship store - he has introduced a section for indie presses.
Helen Jeffrey from the London Review of Books, though interesting, perhaps did not quite understand how small publishers are forever looking down the back of the sofa for old tanners as she talked about a £35,000  online project based on a Will Self essay. She advised that we should use our technical teams more creatively and outsource our day to day technical requirements. Something to bear in mind... Though actually our own technical team, Pippa Hennessy, gave the next talk, an introduction to how ebooks work for the trade. Five Leaves is, unusually perhaps, ahead of the game for our sector with half the ebooks produced by Inpress publishers being ours. The girl done well and Pippa is now freelancing for Inpress publishers needing support with ebook conversion.
There is not room here to describe all the contributions, but if we could we'd be off to Bath simply to become customers of Mr. B's Emporium of Reading Delights - a completely inspiring bookshop that spawned The Bookshop Band, pictured above, which create songs based on the work of the visiting authors to Mr B's. Nic Bottomley, the Mr B in question, was inspiring.
I know it's not all about me but I was on the interview panel that appointed Rachel to Inpress and was chair of the group as she got her feet under the table. Since then she has coped with various crises in the trade, brought in some publishers to Inpress and seen others leave. The organisation is now more solid, better funded, more secure than before and she leaves at the end of the month with Inpress in a much better condition than could be expected, given recent developments in the trade.
This day Festival of Publishing was a good send off. Well done Rachael.

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