SYP Conference 2009

On Saturday 14 November 2009, the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) held their Annual Conference at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies at Oxford Brookes University. The theme of the conference was the Impact of Publishing on Society. Close to 200 people attended the conference which was organised by the Oxford branch of the SYP. Jennifer Krebs, a Master’s in Publishing student, writes about the day ...

‘The day started with tea and coffee and a chance for all delegates to meet one another and network. Shortly afterwards the opening debate on the Paradigms of Modern Publishing was held in the Main Lecture Theatre. This debate featured three speakers: Helen Fraser, Managing Director of Penguin; Will Atkinson, Sales and Marketing Director of Faber & Faber; and Michael Jones, Books Category Manager for Borders UK.

Fraser commented on the balance of producing books that are not only benefiting society but will also sell, especially when working for a large company such as Penguin. Atkinson offered the independent publisher’s view of developing your authors, and producing titles to be proud of but which will perhaps take longer to make a profit, such as Faber’s poetry list. Finally Jones was able to cap off the discussion with the retailer’s point of view that good books will always sell due to word of mouth, and that it is the production of the book and especially the cover design that really grabs a reader’s attention.
Delegates then attended small seminars throughout the day on subjects ranging from digital publishing developments to clinics and career development.

The closing debate took the theme of Responsibility to Publish: Vocation and Education. Delegates were treated to varying views on the topic from four speakers: Alan Samson from Orion Books; Chris Brazier, Co-Editor of the New Internationalist; Robert Sharp, campaigns manager for English PEN; and Sarah Totterdell, Head of the Policy and Practice Communications team at Oxfam. The speakers discussed whether or not we, as publishers, have the responsibility to ‘disseminate knowledge and thought’ to the public. Various points were raised in this discussion including the question of publishing having the moral authority to keep reading alive by producing titles that the public will buy (for example celebrity non-fiction) rather than titles that make a difference. Chris Brazier held the view that for his organization the ‘raison d’être’ is to make a difference, period. Totterdell focused on how Oxfam uses publishing to gain awareness of poverty and suffering through their new titles, Ox-Tales launched in July 2009. Sharp summed it all up in his moving speech, arguing that we should have the belief that our ideas will influence the world and publish accordingly.

Overall, the SYP conference proved to be a stimulating and enjoyable day, and was a huge success. The next SYP conference will be held in London in 2010.’

Follow this link here to read more about the conference and see the SYP photostream.

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Filed Under #Publishing