Report from the IPG Spring Annual Conference 2015

Posted on March 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

As reported by Jasmin Kirkbride

It’s emerging that one of my favourite things about working in Publishing are the conferences. There’s a great sense of community around them, most particularly, perhaps, at the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) Spring Annual Conference. The Conference, which took place on the 4th-6th of March just outside Oxford, was a place for Independent Publishers across the UK – and for some internationally – to come together and discuss the state of the industry from our point of view.

Kicked off by a talk from Amazon’s Russell Jones, with what is becoming the company’s signature social media ban and delicate handling of question time, there ensued three days of sessions, talks and round-table events on everything Independent. From Facebook and handling online followings to the latest legal legislation that will impact publishers in 2015, few stones were left unturned as we were whipped through every aspect of the industry at top speed.

Highlight moments included:

Peter Usborne, founder and owner of the giant Children’s Publishing house, telling us in his closing speech thatKids love books’

Sandy Grant of Hardie Grant’s keynote speech, in which he asserted that Publishers must ‘Transform or die’

Euan Semple, writer of Organisations Don’t Tweet, People Do, saying that we need to stop trying to be perfect brands and just be human beings, because love makes the internet hang together – ‘we want to connect.’

In exchange for my ticket, I was tasked with live-Tweeting the whole event for the SYP, which brought me into contact with so many inspiring people, both on- and off-line. What really blew me away was the enthusiasm everyone displayed when I or other young publishers told them we were part of the SYP. There was a total outpouring of support and encouragement to all ‘new blood’. This can be a very tough industry to get into, and sometimes comes across as quite hostile, but at the Conference it really felt like we were wanted and that people did want to help us – keep going Young Publishers, it’s all going to be okay!

Nevertheless, competition between the publishers present was genially fierce. One of the highlights of the Conference was Thursday’s gala dinner for the IPG Awards 2015, the highly coveted Fox Williams Independent Publisher of the Year Award this year won by Search Press. Though looking around the room it was clearly full of fast friends, the Conference was not simply an expression of Independent’s ongoing support for each other, it was a demonstration of their power, skill and competitive edge in an ever-changing market. The Independents are agile and innovative, definitely the sector in which the interesting stuff is most allowed to happen.

What struck us all was the collective knowledge held in that one conference center. On the first day one of the speakers asked us all to stand up and only sit down when he said the number of years we’d been in the industry. Over half the room had been in Publishing more than twenty years. Whatever that may mean for the industry in a broader sense, there can be no doubt about our collective passion for books -And long may it last!


Closer summaries of the Conference are available here for day one, and here for day two.  If you’re still not satisfied, check out the #ipgsc for the last few days for the IPG Spring Annual Conference updates!