SYP Careers Conference – Alison Baverstock’s Ethical Marketing Workshop

Posted on January 21, 2008 in Uncategorized

Alison Baverstock’s first book How to Market Books, is often referred to as the ‘bible of marketing’ so we were grateful to her for leading the marketing workshop at the SYP conference. She began by raising the point that it is hard to make the word ethical make sense in this context – is ethical marketing an oxymoron? In many ways perhaps it is – in the world of marketing where departments spend huge sums of money where the benefits or effects are not easily quantifiable.

However Alison argued that in today’s climate where younger generations are growing up increasingly ethically aware, which will in turn lead to a new band of consumers who are more demanding on businesses, no department will be left unaffected.

Alison urged us, as young publishers to take responsibility for this change. She touched on the issue of author treatment, and being respectful and paying fair amounts for work. She also urged us to be discriminating about the kind of books that we actually publish. For example, don’t we have a moral duty to provide quality goods, and to not make assumptions about consumers? (She used the opposite example of the influx of ‘ghost-written’ celebrity biographies that are currently saturating the market and are often pulped after poor sales).

Finally she made the point that in marketing there is often a trade-off between being environmentally friendly and getting the job done. Sometimes an email just won’t suffice so posting flyers is important. What about the waste of paper from the books that don’t sell? The carbon footprint of flying across the world to attend conferences?

Obviously things won’t change overnight but if young publishers can even make the smallest changes to respect authors, respect consumers and respect the environment then the world of publishing will be better for it.

by Kate Hind