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10 July 2020

Edinburgh International Book Festival: 12 to 28 August 2017

22 August 2017

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 educational.


This year our Publishing Scotland event at EIBF was

Culture versus Commerce

Where: Garden Theatre, EIBF Charlotte Square

When: Tuesday 22 August 2017 from 17:45 to 18:45

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.

Publishing 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 it".

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 excellence?

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 "much easier".

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