British Book Design & Production Awards 2015

by Tik Dalton

My adventures and thoughts on the 2015 British Book Design & Production Awards...  

This year the awards were held at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel London (super fancy) and my friend Saskia and I had the privilege of attending - this is because we spent the summer organizing the flood of entries (over 500, the paperwork was a nightmare) and helping out at the judging days.

Well, dear reader, what I wanted to discuss this time was culture - more specifically, the culture of the book publishing industry. And I think these awards are an excellent example of our industry’s ethos.

A particularly interesting speech was given at the beginning of the dinner (starter: salmon on a bed of ridiculously delicious leek risotto) by Charles Jarrold, Chief Executive of the BPIF, he stated:

'Kindles and e-readers have their place, but the physical book is a work of art. And that is what we're here to celebrate.'

An interesting point.

My dissertation is based around how we can more easily emulate examples set by industries born out of technical innovation and rely on it to evolve - but do we need to?

Chris Aked (Marketing Manager, Commercial Printing Group Canon):
"There is still a great life in print, still a great life in books - all these worries about ebooks taking over - I think tonight showed that’s not the case."

The legacy publishing brings us is based around the book. A physical object steeped in history and culture, which we’re all proud to be a part of. These awards specifically celebrate the innovative and the excellence in book publishing, while moving forward by including categories such as graphic novel, self published (both new to 2015) and interactive, the focus is on the physical book.

The print book will always be our baby, the market is most definitely still there with the book printing sector currently being valued at £1.9 BILLION (a level not seen since 1996) but we’re moving with the times - niche publishing is on the rise thanks to technological advancements and the miracle that is the internet.

Seated with the judges (*flips hair* yes, I’m a fairly big deal) we were talking about the winners and the shortlisted and why they deserved their accolades, because my favourites hardly ever lined up with the winners… A great example was The Little Boy/Girl Who Lost His/Her Name (winner of self-published) which involved quite a bit of tech, they are planning on another customisable children’s book which involves ‘coming home’ and incorporating Google Earth into the process.
I think the judges comment sums it up better than I could...               

"The Little Boy/Girl who lost His/Her Name challenged the judge’s perception of self-publishing but also raised the bar in terms of innovations with print. Customisation is a hot topic in publishing right now and it’s fascinating that one of the leading books in the field has come from the technology sector and not traditional publishing."

An interesting point that this innovation comes from the technology sector, the business of publishing has frequently been accused of being slow to change and having reactive business models rather than trying to be innovative. But ours is a relatively stable market, no sane person is running around screaming ‘THE END IS NIGH’ for the book - we’re evolving at a pace that is perhaps best for our business.

If we suddenly turned round tomorrow and declared: no more books, we’re going to implant a chip in your head which allows you to read a book through thought and images superimposed over your optic nerves - you’d probably shake your head sadly at us and stick your nose back into your latest paperback thriller.

I fear I may have gone off topic…

So my point is that book publishing, specifically the printed book, is currently in no danger and that the industry will always be centred around this cultural grail.
The industry also acknowledges that there is value in digital content and content not framed within our traditional ideas of a ‘book’ - it would be hard not to when we’re slowly but surely being sucked into a much larger ecosystem of the media market. However, what is currently being focused on is not losing power to service providers such as Apple, Google and Amazon.

How are we doing this?

Being innovative and creative with our design and production, creating products that are cherished, that play on our love of the physical book.

I think that, above all else, is what the awards represented for me.

This blog post comes from Tik's blog here.

About the author of this article

My name is Tik Dalton, I'm a 3rd year undergraduate at Oxford Brookes studying Publishing Media. 

I love games and I always wanted to be Lara Croft when I grew up. (I still do.)

Edited by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 29 Jan 2016 around 2pm

Last edited: 29 01 2016