Canon Future Book Forum 2020

by Chloe Slim

On the 18th November, MA Publishing student Chloe Slim attended the Future Book Forum 2020 online. In this blog post she shares with us her key takeaways from the event and how it links in with her studies.

On the 18th November Canon hosted the Future Book Forum 2020 online. Peter Fisk presented the event and introduced us to the theme for this year: ‘Opportunities in the Year of Change’, reflecting on how the pandemic has impacted publishing and what publishers can do to continue to grow and learn from this year.  

Mark Allin presented on the current status of the industry and reflected on interviews held with publishers. The pandemic has caused serious supply chain disruption, with book shops having to close, but it has meant that ecommerce is increasing and those that have been successful have grown their social media presence and direct marketing. Go direct to the readers! Overall, reading has grown in lockdown, and this was echoed by Nick Morris and Alex Quicho (Canvas8), who said that 41% were reading more. The biggest takeaway from their talk, was that digital is enabling analogue. They encouraged publishers to use technology to enrich offline experiences, such as encouraging digital book clubs and discussions; rather than seeing digital as competition, embrace it!

Claire MacLellan, COO at Future PLC shared the company’s journey over the last 5 years and said how this year had seen quite a few acquisitions which has helped to grow their market in the US. She discussed the challenges of working remotely at this time, and how they had to induct 800+ new people virtually rather than face-to-face, which is quite an achievement.

After the break, we had lessons from the FT by Tara Lajumoke and Harriet Wright. It was interesting to hear that the FT now make more money from readers than they do from advertisers, which tied in with a common theme from the event: that it was important to build direct relationships with readers. Tara Lajumoke emphasised the importance of the North star methodology: have a single, galvanising goal. This linked in nicely with what I had learned during the ‘Data-driven Marketing & Publishing’ module, so it is always nice to see the theory in action!

Some interesting points from the panel discussion, was the rise in click and collect during the pandemic. Sharon Helgason said that they began to use custom bookplates so they could still provide signed books to readers, and that they would continue to use these after the pandemic as it solved the issue of knowing how many books to order (they now distribute the exact amount of books required). She also observed that museum shops had struggled the most, as selling books was not always their primary concern – so these businesses were at a disadvantage when it came adapting to the current climate.

The closing discussion was a focus on some case studies about how innovation in printing methods was helping during 2020. It was stressed how important flexible supply chains were, and how continual data analysis throughout the life of a title was so crucial. New printing innovations had enabled end-to-end POD solutions that helped publishers to minimise their stock holding but also provide books when the consumer needed it – from the back list too, not just the new titles!

It was a great event with fantastic speakers, thank you #FutureBookForum.

About the author of this article

Chloe Slim is a project manager of software projects and is doing a Publishing MA with Oxford Brookes University.  Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Edited by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 20 Nov 2020 around 3pm

Last edited: 19 02 2021