The world's largest book festival takes place every August in
Edinburgh and our members are always well represented with their
books on sale in the festival bookshops and their authors taking
part in events.
EIBF hosts various events at other times of the year and also
runs the Booked! programme which takes the Edinburgh
International Book Festival on the road around Scotland, throughout
the year, supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery.
This year's festival ran from 12 to 28 August. For more details,
see the EIBF website.
The book tents
The adults' book tent features what is probably the biggest
selection of our publisher members' books for sale that you will
find anywhere. They are set out by publisher name.
There's also a great selection of members' books to buy in the
children's tent. You'll find everything from board books for babies
to fiction for young adult, along with reference and
This year our Publishing Scotland event at EIBF was
Where: Garden Theatre, EIBF Charlotte
When: Tuesday 22 August 2017 from 17:45 to
Balancing culture and commerce is more complicated than ever.
Publishers face ever tougher questions and are being challenged on
how to remain relevant and credible. Join us for an event hosted by
Scottish publishers and their international counterparts for a
dynamic and lively discussion on the state of the publishing
industry today in the UK and abroad. Featuring the Publishing Scotland International
Publishing Fellows of 2017.
The review below is by Eloise Hendy who was an intern at
Publishing Scotland for August 2017.
Scotland Culture Vs Commerce Event
Is publishing a
cultural or a commercial venture? How should the publishing
industry balance a commitment to books they really believe in, with
the imperative to invest for the future? These were the questions
posed by Katy Lockwood Holmes, head of publisher Floris Books, at
the beginning of Publishing Scotland's event at the Edinburgh
International Book Festival, boldly entitled Culture Versus
Commerce. The topic clearly goes to the heart of the publishing
industry; as Francis Bickmore, editorial director of Canongate,
says, "it's hard to know where to start".
Bickmore decided to
start with the reader, enchantingly referring to the intimate
personal experience of reading as the "magic of black ink on white
paper forming into flights in your head". This magic, he said, is
then what kindles editorial passion, which is essential to any
commercial endeavour: "if you love something you want to sell
Bickmore's pride at
the "leap of faith" Canongate made with Life of Pi was obvious to
behold. Certainly, the book's critical and commercial success
proves some passion projects can strike the perfect balance between
culture and commerce. Indeed, for all the panellists (Bickmore was
joined by Scottish publisher Bob Sandstone of Sandstone Press,
Canadian Alana Wilcox of Coach House Books and Tina Arnold of
German based DTV), what was abundantly clear was the care they had
for their books. Both Sandstone and Arnold talked about "seeking
quality", with Arnold saying she was "very picky" about her list.
So is striking the right balance all down to having a keen eye for
Alana Wilcox made
the process seem slightly less serendipitous, with her witty view
of the relationship between culture and commerce as "a long
marriage - mostly you get along, and really stay together for the
sake of the children, but those arguments can be quite
devastating". Highlighting that Scotland and Canada share the trait
of residing next to "an elephant that shares the same language",
Wilcox suggested that even having your own printing establishment -
as Coach House Books does - cannot make publishing a risk-free
business. In the same vein, Lockwood Holmes raised the spectre of
big corporates, and the trend to invest in titles that are proven
to sell, rather than innovative works. It was clear that all
publishers were well-aware of "pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap"
tactics - as Arnold noted, copying what's already successful is
However, with the
elephant in the room acknowledged, all remained remarkably positive
and hopeful for the future. While nodding to the copy-cat trend of
big corporates, Arnold suggested this can only bring success "up to
a point", before readers get sick of being constantly fed the same
thing. Wilcox too brought the discussion back to the reader,
emphasising the "tremendous faith" Coach House Books has in their
readers "to try new things". Bickmore agreed, highlighting that the
public "don't just want the familiar, they want the unfamiliar". Of
course, the topic was an endless one, with each contributor adding
their unique perspective and voice to the conversation, but in one
thing they seemed united: in publishing, there is always an element
of the unforeseen.
Eloise Hendy, August 2017