IPG Children's Publisher of the Year

Articles tagged with: conferences

Cake and conferences

Posted by Tom on Jul 17, 2013

Plans for our first conference on children’s publishing, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Children’s Publishing, are coming along very well – it looks like it’ll be a sell-out day, and our speakers (including author Tracey Corderoy, columnist Lucy Mangan, agent Hilary Delamere, Waterstones Children’s Buyer Melissa Cox, social media expert Jon Reed, and Nosy Crow MD Kate Wilson) are planning some really fantastic events. And today we have two pieces of very good conference news!

Firstly, we’ve decided to extend the period for our early bird discount, so for a little while longer you’ll be able to buy tickets at this special rate before they raise to the full price. If you’d like to come along, don’t delay!

And that’s not all. The even better news is that, perhaps unwisely, Kate and I have also decided that we will make cakes for EVERYONE coming to the conference. Yes, seriously. We’ll be finishing the day with hundreds of cakes (along with a glass of wine), handmade by us… it IS a Nosy Crow event, after all.

If you haven’t already bought your early bird ticket, you can do so with the very straightforward form below, or at the Eventbrite page for the conference, here. You can also read the full program for the day here – if you have any questions, leave a comment below this post or send an email to tom@nosycrow.com and we’ll get back to you. The event is taking place on Saturday, September 21 at St Bride Foundation on Fleet Street – we hope to see you there!

What questions about children's publishing would you like answered?

Posted by Tom on Jun 27, 2013

The programme for our upcoming conference, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Children’s Publishing (But Were Afraid to Ask) is almost complete, and it’s shaping up to be a fantastic day. The full schedule will be released next week – we have talks planned by The Guardian and Stylist columnist Lucy Mangan, agent Hilary Delamere, Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam author Tracey Corderoy, Waterstones Children’s Buyer Melissa Cox, Nosy Crow Managing Director Kate Wilson, and more.

But we’d also like to hear from you! Whether you’re an aspiring writer, hoping to begin a career in publishing, or just enthusiastic about children’s books, we want to know what you would like us to include on the day. What mysteries of the industry would you like unveiled? Is there one thing you’ve always wanted to know? Or one area of the industry that seems particularly opaque? Let us know in the comments underneath this post and we’ll try to cover as much as we can on the day.

In case you missed our first announcement, the conference is taking place on Saturday September 21 at the St Bride Foundation on Fleet Street in London. Early bird tickets are still available for just £99 (which includes morning and afternoon coffee breaks, lunch, and a glass of wine at the end of the day) – you can order them online here, or with the simple form below.

Digital Marketing Lessons From SheStreams Conference

Posted by Andi on Sep 28, 2011

What happens when you pack a hotel conference room full of social media mavens, marketing experts and brands? A whole lot of tweeting, that’s for sure.

This past weekend I had the chance to jump into a mix just like this in New York at the SheStreams Conference. The focus was on marketing to women. (Sorry, guys.)

There were some really inspiring speakers, like Rene Syler author of Good Enough Mother and a former CBS news anchor. Rene dispensed some great nuggets of wisdom about being true to yourself and following your passion in work and life. Also, we heard from Lisa Druxman, founder of the American company Stroller Strides. She told the story of how her business, which focuses on pre and postnatal exercises for moms, grew from a workout she designed for herself, into a rapidly expanding American franchise.

One of my favorite panels during the conference featured our friends at Moms With Apps, Lorraine and Lynette. They did an apps soup to nuts presentation that covered everything from finding a developer to picking a platform (iOS vs. Android). You can see the link to their presentation here.

At the Moms with Apps panel I had the opportunity to give some input on how Nosy Crow approaches our outreach to reporters and bloggers… bottom line: lots of emails! Holly Rosen Fink from Ruckus Media Group was there as well. Ruckus recently announced a partnership with Scholastic. The photo above shows Holly, Lynette, Lorraine and me after the panel. (left to right).

For me, the overarching messages from SheStreams was the importance of staying true to your mission, and communicating that passion to others. And I think that’s what everyone here at Nosy Crow does. We aim to inspire children to love reading, whether in print books or apps, and we’re always thinking about what they will find exciting, or engrossing or amusing.

So far, it seems like we’re on the right track. But we love getting feedback from children, parents, teachers and fellow app developers. So keep the suggestions coming! The beauty of the App Store is that we can improve and update The Three Little Pigs and Cinderella regularly. Each time we make a change, people who own the app get an alert that an update is available.

Likewise, when the next Cinderella update is available, we’ll be sure to tweet it to you. That is, after all, what we do. Conference room or not.

Nosy Crow is a Mumpreneur UK awards finalist in the Best Start Up category

Posted by Kate on Aug 06, 2011

(After this blog post was written, Kate actually won Mumpreneur’s Inspirational Business Mum of the Year, Mumpreneur’s top award.)

We’re feeling pretty chuffed.

Nosy Crow has been selected as a finalist in the Mumpreneur Awards Best Start Up category.

This is one of a series of awards that are designed to celebrate the best of the UK’s parent-run businesses.

I blogged about the 2010 conference and awards last September, long before we’d launched.

I don’t think that it’s necessary to be a parent to write, illustrate or publish great books or apps for children, but I do think that those of us at Nosy Crow who are parents draw heavily on our experience as parents to inform our publishing decisions. We think of our own children’s fascinations and fears. We remember the point at which birthdays became meaningful; when the challenge of sharing was a particularly difficult one; when our children first lost a tooth; when our children first said, “I hate you!” to us (or, in my case, left a note on my pillow saying, “I hat you”); when they were ready to play in a field on their own. I am, at the moment, particularly attuned, because of the ages of my own children, to the differences between a top-end-of-primary-school child (an 11 year- old) and a bottom-end-of-secondary-school child (a 12 year-old), and I find that this is very much influencing my response to writing for children of 10+.

Of course, we have to resist extrapolating from our own parental experience too much. Children are different, and while one may be afraid of the dark, another may be completely unaffected; one child may love dinosaurs and know all their names, while another couldn’t care less about them. In fact, I would have to admit that I did some of my least successful publishing for little babies immediately after the birth of my first child: I think I was so wrapped up in that experience that I couldn’t imagine the preferences and perspective of any baby other than my own.

But having parents as part of the Nosy Crow team is valuable and important… and we go out of our way to accommodate parents’ needs to balance their work life with parenting (five of us work flexibly, or work particular hours, or work part-time, to accommodate childcare, and we welcome children into the office when things like offset days mean that normal arrangements don’t apply). Recently, Giselle was due to start work on the day of her son’s first birthday, but (though we were getting a bit desperate for design support!) we told her to stay at home and enjoy her day with him.

We know, too, that the buyers of most children’s books and apps are parents. Though our main aim is to produce books and apps that appeal to children themselves, we are also aware of the need to appeal to parents. That means that, at least at this stage in our development, there are certain books, and certain kinds of books, that we don’t choose to publish: gritty coming-of-age fiction for young adults, or books with explicit sex or violence, for example. (I’ve previously written on the sort-of related subject of the responsibilities of being a children’s publisher.) One of the great appeals for me of Small Blue Thing, the novel we’ve published that is oldest in terms of its target audience, for example, was that it was very innocent: I couldn’t imagine any parent (or teacher for that matter) taking exception to any of the content. It’s interesting to note that S C Ransom originally wrote the first book in the sequence for her own daughter’s twelfth birthday.

So being parents, and being part of a small, entrepreneurial child- and parent-focussed business are both essential to many of us at Nosy Crow.

Please wish us luck in the next stage of the selection process. There were 720 entrants, so being a finalist is a pretty great achievement in itself!

London Book Fair - a (slightly) late update

Posted by Kate on Apr 17, 2011

Last week was the week of the London Book Fair.

This is a picture by Axel Scheffler, which he donated and which was sold to an anonymous buyer in aid of the National Literacy Trust. It shows the gruffalo (and mouse) with Pip and Posy going to the London Book Fair.

The London Book Fair, which has less of a rights focus and more of an export focus and is a general (as opposed to a children’s books) book fair, is very much secondary in importance to the Bologna Book Fair for Nosy Crow. It was particularly tough to focus on it this year as it came so hard on the heels of the Bologna Book Fair. It’s a fair at which, this year and last, we haven’t taken a stand, though I think we may have to rethink that for next year, given the number of messages left for us with the kind people of the Independent Publishers Guild stand.

On Monday, Deb presented our The Three Little Pigs app to a crowd of people in the children’s innovation space.

On Tuesday and on Wednesday (when Axel was, with Julia Donaldson, combined “author of the day”), Kate had a series of rights appointments. Some were with publishers who, for one reason or another, we were unable to see at Bologna, and some were follow-ups to Bologna apointments. We also had the chance to meet up with a few UK bookshop and other buyers.

Nosy Crow had been invited to participate in a Publishers Association presentation of key titles for the second half of the year to independent booksellers. We were the last of 12 publishers, and, the session was, perhaps inevitably, a bit of a “death-by-powerpoint” kind of thing, so we entirely abandoned our powerpoint, and spoke about just four things we’re publishing in the second half of this year, which I felt (on the hoof) gave some sense of the age-range and kind of books we cover: Pip and Posy: The Scary Monster ; Mega Mash-ups: Pirates and Ancient Egyptians in a Haunted Museum ; Olivia Flies High ; and our Christmas picture book, Just Right. Realistically, after seeing 70-odd titles, I thought that there wasn’t a chance of anyone remembering much about individual books, but I hoped that, by taking the less conventional approach, the independent booksellers would remember Nosy Crow, so that, when their Bounce rep came calling, they’d feel positively disposed towards the books.

I also did a talk as part of the Oxford Brookes University “Publishing Round The World” series, with an editor from Samokat and a founder of Milly Molly. Here’s me expounding Nosy Crow’s digital marketing thinking:

The photo above, which is as unflattering as it is grainy, was taken by Tom Bonnick, who’s interning with us. We wanted to check that his standards of photography are on the same level as our own if he is to continue to intern for us, and I am happy to say that they are! He did just take it with a phone, though, and from a long way away.

But all in all, a worthwhile few days.

Selling books at the Bologna Book Fair

Posted by Kate on Apr 05, 2011

The Bologna Book Fair is many things, but the main thing it is is a market for rights and co-edition selling.

As a publisher, you have a grant of rights from an author and an illustrator, including the right to publish their work as a book. Sometimes – always if you’re Nosy Crow – you have rights that you do not want to use yourself, but are able to sell to someone else. So Nosy Crow doesn’t itself publish in Finnish, but we know several Finnish publishers who like the books we do and who would like to publish them in Finnish. So we negotiate a deal with them, and the author/illustrator gets a share of the money we make when we sell the rights.

If you are publishing illustrated books – and over half of Nosy Crow’s list is illustrated in full-colour – there is another element to rights selling: building a co-edition run. There are certain costs associated with printing a book which are the same whether you print one copy or 100,000 copies, and it makes sense to spread those costs over as many books as possible. So the aim of the game is to say to the Finnish publisher that not only will you sell them the rights to publish the book in Finnish, but you will print the books for them in Finnish too.

This makes perfect sense, because the pictures in, for example, a picture book are printed first, and then the text of the picture book is printed on top of the pictures, so you can print a whole quantity of pictures and then put the UK text on a quarter of that quantity, the French text on a quarter of them, the German text on a quarter of them, and, let’s say, the Finnish text on a quarter of them (of course, the quantity doesn’t divide into quarters because different language markets are of different sizes – Germany’s bigger than Finland – but you get the idea). Each country’s version of the book is called a co-edition.

So, in the course of the fair, two of us Nosy Crows – Adrian and me – were hard at it selling for three-and-a-half days. Between us, we had 90 pre-booked appointments with 90 different publishers from 20 countries… and a few appointments with film companies and other people too.

We were able to finalise a number of rights deals on books that had been in discussion in the course of the weeks leading up to the fair, and we have lots of interest to follow up for newer books that we had been working on in the weeks and months before the book fair that we’ll publish in 2012.

It’s bizarre to think that a queue for the loo (and the queue for the women’s loos at Bologna is always long) might make the difference between having an appointment that lasts 30 minutes and one that lasts 20 minutes… and that therefore, because you lost 10 minutes of an appointment, you might fail to make a deal that would have worked for both of you.

The skill of selling is, therefore, to cut to the chase and not waste time talking about books – however much you love them yourself – that are failing to ignite the enthusiasm of the person opposite you.

Of course, the longer you’ve been selling rights, the better you know markets, publishing companies within those markets and individuals within those publishing companies, so it’s easier to know what books to show to whom. And it’s certainly the case that there are people that I meet at fairs that I would count as friends, with whom I have been talking about children’s books for almost a quarter of a century. There are people whose reaction I can predict before I show them a book, and many people with whose own tastes and views of publishing I feel real affinity, despite the fact that we operate in different companies and countries. (And since we are nothing if not honest in this blog, there are people I have absolutely failed to connect with over years of book fair meetings. It’s a joy of being an independent company that I just don’t book an appointment to see them any more…)

So, as well as all the excitement of speaking at the Tools of Change Conference and as well as our apps deal with Gallimard and Carlsen, we got on with the solid, unflashy, necessary and very satisfying thing we do every day: we sold print books.

Tools of Change Bologna

Posted by Kate on Mar 27, 2011

Today, Deb and I went to the first Tools of Change conference at Bologna. Tools of Change is a sequence of conferences about publishing in the digital age, but today’s was the first to focus exclusively on children’s books.

Organised, at least in part, by Neal Hoskins of Winged Chariot, who couldn’t be more passionate in his conviction about the importance of apps as a new form of story-telling for children, it was a 200+ person conference with delegates from 27 countries… and a great success.

Deb spoke eloquently about the interactivity that’s at the heart of our apps development. She spoke about the interactivity that is at the heart of the content – we want to creat apps that children want to read, explore and play with. She spoke about the interactivity that is the basis of how we create an app, pulling together original text, audio, music, illustration, animation and coding into a whole in a way that involves lots of collaboration. She spoke about the interactivity that we have with readers and buyers of the app, as the digital world provides us ways of finding out – and acting upon – what our customers think of what we’re doing. She was mobbed by publishers at the end of the panel discussion in which she took part, all keen to find out more about what we do and how we do it.

And, at the very beginnning of the conference, I delivered the first keynote address. Frankly, this was playing against type: I could bore for Britain about Nosy Crow and what we believe is important, but I thought that the first keynote should sort of sketch out the landscape that the rest of the conference might cover. Armed only with data from Book Marketing Limited and The Futures Company, together with a few opinions, I talked about, on the one hand, digital selling and marketing of print books and of eBooks and other reading experiences; and, on the other hand. about digital products. First I talked about what was happening now in those two areas, and then I looked at what might happen in the future.

The opportunities for digital selling and marketing are already huge. One in four books – and one in five children’s books – in the UK is sold via an internet-only retailer (and Amazon is much the largest of these) so digital selling is a real and growing fact of life. Websites, electronic marketing and social media have opened up a way for publishers, who have traditionally “handed off” relationships with readers and book-buyers to retailers, to communicate directly with their consumers in a two-way conversation, and we have seen the development of the “consumer critic” – blog and rate-and-review website-enabled people whose opinion is trusted by other consumers, perhaps more than they trust the voice of the professional critic.

The opportunities for digital selling and marketing will, I think, only grow in future, and I quoted Aaron Miller of Bookglutton:

“Social publishing is the natural evolution of publishing as a business. It encompasses the web and all new distribution platforms including the way people read and discover on them… Social publishing involves a deep interest in, and study of, what happens to a text after it’s disseminated – how readers interact with it, how they share it, how they copy it, how they talk about it.”

The market for digital product is still evolving. Ebooks (and I’m not including apps here) accounted for only 1.26% of the UK book market by volume in 2010 and 0.4% of the UK children’s book market in the same year.

Nevertheless, the rate of adoption of digital reading is accelerating: in January 2010, just 3% of US book-buyers had bought a digital book, but by January 2011, that figure was 13%. And where the US leads, I think, the rest of the world will follow. Looking ahead, one concern is the consumer expectation that digital product should be cheap, or, indeed, free. As Lyle Undercoffler of Disney said, “Free is the four-letter word of digital publishing – the word that we don’t want to hear.” Another concern are the ongoing challenges to copyright. Almost a year ago, I wrote a blog post welcoming England’s Digital Economy Bill, and it now seems perfectly possible that the current government may not implement this protection of creators’ rights. Whether or not this Bill represents exactly the right way to protect the rights of creators is less important to this post today than the fact that this challenge to copyright may be in line with consumer expectations that they should be able to interact with, personalise and change the things that they read in ways that suit them. I quoted Adam Penenberg:

“Instead of stagnant words on a page we will layer video throughout the text, add photos, hyperlink material, engage social networks of readers who will add their own videos, photos, and wikified information so that these multimedia books become living, breathing, works of art.”

When I think about the impact of the digital world on publishing, I think of this quote from the twentieth-century economist Joseph Schumpeter:

“A railroad through new country upsets all conditions of location, all cost calculations, all production functions within its radius of influence and hardly any ways of doing things which have seemed optimal before remain so afterwards.”

The role of the publisher is changing. If there is this thing that we call “content” – ideas, words, images, audio, video, animation – and there is a reader, and there is a process for getting that content to the reader, we need to think strategically about what our role in that process is. We don’t, as publishers, have any kind of right to play a part in that process. We have to carve out our place in the process, by bringing to it something that we can do better than anyone else.

No-one owes us publishers lunch. We have to earn it.

Bonkers-busy before the Bologna Children's Book Fair

Posted by Kate on Mar 26, 2011

Today we’re off to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

This is big bananas for us, and we have been working flat-out to get ready for it.

It is one of two weeks in the year – the other is the Frankfurt Book Fair in October, but Bologna’s the big one – when we meet the non-UK publishers we’ll do business with for the rest of the year. At Bologna, we have just 30 minutes (20 if they have to queue for the loo before the appointment) to impress a foreign publisher with our books. The aim of the game is to sell, or at least interest them in buying, the right to publish our books in translation.

For the last few months, Anne-Marie’s been putting together the schedule of selling appointments for me and for Adrian. We have appointments every half-hour from 9.00am to 5.30pm without breaks for three-and-a-half days.

For the last month, since the launch of The Three Little Pigs app, Ed and Will have been working with Deb on our next app in the 3D Fairy Tale series, Cinderella.

For the last month, too, Imogen’s been collecting together final print and freight prices for books of many different sizes and kinds – board books and pop-up books and picture books, and working out how much we have to sell them for in order to stay in business. This is a hard task: we always want our books to be the best they can be – to have the heaviest paper, the most spectacular pop-ups the most unusual touch-and-feels – and it’s tough to compromise!

For the past few weeks we’ve been receiving artwork from illustrators. Some of it arrived in time for us to proof it, but most of it, because we are still new and building our list and publishing sooner after artwork delivery than is ideal, did not, so we’ve had to make dummies using photocopies of the art stuck into blank books. This is an unbelievably time-consuming, tricky, painstaking and monotonous task, and Steph and Nia, in addition to doing lots of last-minute designing, have been working on this tirelessly with Camilla. Nia finished the very last one at 10.30pm yesterday evening.

And for the past few weeks we’ve also been pulling together words and pictures to add to the books section of our website to announce some of the books we’ll be taking to Bologna, including The Grunts, the acquisition of which we announced to a great response on Wednesday.

For the past day or so, we’ve had a steady stream of meetings with people who are in the UK before they go to the book fair – our Japanese agent, Noriko Hasagawa, for example – who I mentioned in a recent post – and Liz Bray from our Australian distributors, Allen and Unwin. They have gamely picked their way through the chaos of the office, and brushed scraps of paper and fur-fabric (for touch-and-feel books) from chairs before sitting down at a table that is slightly sticky with glue.

For the past day or so, too, I have finally been getting down to working on the slides for the first Tools of Change Conference to happen in Bologna, at which I am – eek! – the first keynote speaker on Sunday.

And yesterday, as if we didn’t have enough to do, we bought (or at least confirmed the deals on) three picture book texts, illustrations for two picture books and a debut novel.

Next week is the most important week of our year.

Wish us luck!

Apps and conferences

Posted by Kate on Dec 15, 2010

Yesterday, Kate met up with Neal Hoskins (pictured) of Winged Chariot in the Crow’s Nest to talk about the opportunities for collaboration amongst apps publishers, and, specifically, children’s apps publishers. For all of us involved in apps publishing, the challenge is how people – parents in our case – find good apps among the ever-growing sea of apps on the store.

They also talked about the Bologna Tools of Change Conference 2011, which Neal is heavily involved in, and at which Kate will be a keynote speaker.

Then Kate and Imogen left for the Bounce Marketing sales conference for April to August titles in Islington, wrapping fizzy wine in the back of the car to give to the Bounce reps so they could drink to Nosy Crow’s first book (Small Blue Thing) being published on 13 January 2011. Kate presented to an enthusiastic audience of 18, and it was great to see how many of the reps had already read many of the titles: Bizzy Bear and Pip and Posy were being enthusiastically read by one sales manager’s two year-old. The six year-old “reluctant artist” son of one of the reps had loved completing his first Mega Mash-up book. And one of the reps told everyone how much she’d LOVED Olivia’s First Term.

After a meeting at the Publisher’s Association about World Book Day 2012 (which’ll be the subject of another post), Kate met up with Imogen and Kirsty at Bounce’s Christmas Party, and Kirsty and Kate had to be asked to leave as the pub was closing. A fine time was had by all.

The Bookseller Children's Conference

Posted by Kate on Oct 03, 2010

On Thursday, Kate took time off from Frankfurt presentations to speak at The Bookseller Children’s Conference, which focused on digital – both digital marketing and digital products. Deb came too.

It was a really good day. You could, if you wanted a blow-by-blow if (necessarily) bitty account, look at the #kidsconf hastag on Twitter.

Highlights of the conference for Kate included:

  • Adrian Hon from Six to Start, who concluded an overview of digital product innovation with his sense of trends to come which included :
  1. “The race to quality”. There’s a lot of ditigal and online rubbish out there, and consumers will become more discriminating. Kate thinks this is really true in relation to apps for children.
  2. “Disintermediation”. Creators (like authors) connecting with and selling directly to consumers (like readers). Kate thinks that this is a real risk for publishers, and that publishers have to be very clear about what they’re offering creators and consumers before assuming that they have a role to play in the supply chain. Hon also expects to see a lot of new entrants: the existing big players won’t necessarily drive innovation and success. Kate agrees.
  3. “Transmedia” . Products existing digitally and in physical form, an example of which would be Scholastic’s 39 Clues and Webkinz.
  • The truly scary (to Kate) insights into Stardoll (from Katie Bell) and the slightly less scary ones into Moshi Monsters (from Divinia Knowles).
  • Sue Cranmer of Futurelab, talking about the danger of assuming that children are digitally competent “natives” while adults are digitally incompetent”‘immigrants”, because this is not necessarily the case and it creates a divide where none needs to exist. She talked persuasively about children’s naivety in relation to the web, though, suggesting that they thought that it was regulated and authoritative, and quoting 10 year-olds saying that Mr Wikipedia was responsible for Wikipedia’s content. (Kate’s own children. roughly the same age, turned out to know that Wikipedia was written “by anyone” so “you can’t be sure it’s right but other people will check”, which suggests that they have a fair old grip of the principles.)
  • Dan Martin of Chamelion Net’s emphasis on video as an ever-increasing means of communicating with people online, and especially with teenagers. He said that YouTube serves up a billion videos a day, and that YouTube is the second most used search engine after Google.
  • Matt Locke of Channel 4 comparing the current peak oil situation to a “peak attention” situation: we are managing a precious and finite resource. He spoke, too, about the polarisation of ways we conume of content: we are either engaging in long, immersive experiences (binging on a Mad Men boxed set) or consuming content in tiny, short chunks (and this is, of course, not necessarily how traditional media presents content).
  • Justine Abbott of Aardvark Research, talking about parents becoming increasingly comfortable with allowing children screentime, and the role of the iPhone as a “free babysitter”, being used increasingly to entertain children especially when parents are out and about. As a qualitative researcher, she had some scary anecdotes like the one about the two five year-olds whose favourite game was Grand Theft Auto, and some interesting stats, like the fact that 28% of UK children aged six and younger has their own TV in their bedroom.
  • Neal Hoskins of innovative app creators Winged Chariot, who gave a candid and clear-eyed insight into his experience (more than most of us have) of delivering reading experiences into the apps market.

Kate got to go last, which made for a nerve-racking day, but allowed her to think even more about the role of the publisher in the digital landscape. The conference was at the British Library, just north of Bloomsbury, and she remembered the Bloomsbury Group’s (gay) Lytton Strachey’s response to the chairman of the military tribunal to whom he had to prove that he was a consciencious objector. Asked what he would do if a German soldier was attempting to violate his sister, Strachey is reported to have said, “I would try to interpose my body between them.” Kate thinks that if publishers want to interpose themselves between creators (authors etc) and consumers (readers), then we increasingly have to earn the right to do so.

Oh, and she also got to show a video of a recent build of Nosy Crow’s 3-D Fairy Tales: The Three Little Pigs app, which is what the picture is. Kate is the fuzzy blob in the lower left-hand corner.

All mums together: MumpreneurUK 2010 conference

Posted by admin on Sep 20, 2010

Kate went to the MumpreneurUK 2010 conference on Saturday, to spend time with other women (mothers) who have chosen to go it alone, and who are at different stages of building their businesses, some of which were baby- and child-orientated, but many of which were not. Interesting to see an impressive collection of women all of whom have decided that corporate life was not for them. They’d grown in confidence since having children, and they also wanted a different kind of work/life balance – something Kate hopes to learn from. All in all, it was a great confidence-building exercise; a good networking opportunity; and it also covered some good solid ground in terms of Social Media Marketing. In a way, though, the most inspiring bit was the awards ceremony, with awards for Best Start-up, Best Online Business, Best Green Business (winner Fiona King of www.totsbots.com pictured here with baby Stroan), Best Business Support Award, Best Saleswoman Award (won by Lyn Blackledge of www.lynsbiz.co.uk, who sells Barefoot Books among other things), Best Interactive Business Award and Most Unique Product.

With a Bounce in our step: our first sales conference

Posted by Kate on Sep 10, 2010

Kate went to Nosy Crow’s first Bounce conference: 18 sales reps and marketeers in a room who wanted to hear about Nosy Crow’s first seven books so that they could sell them to their customers. (Bounce is our sales agency for UK and export as we announced in our recent blog post.

Oh, and, the truth is that Kate loves an audience, and it is perhaps the only disadvantage of being a small, independent publisher that she doesn’t get one as often as she used to. And while she’s stood in front of reps and talked about books before, they’ve never been her very own company’s books. So all in all, it was a Big Day for Nosy Crow.

The audience couldn’t have been more receptive and attentive, and were very enthusiastic about our first four months’ of books – Small Blue Thing, the first two Mega Mash-ups, the first two Bizzy Bear board books and, of course, Axel Scheffler’s two Pip and Posy books.

Sue Ransom joined us for a lunch that featured chips and ice-cream (top lunch in Kate’s books), and at least one of the reps was able to give her excellent feedback from real, live bookshop people based on their reading of proof copies of Small Blue Thing.

All good!

Mobile Monday moment

Posted by Deb on Jul 20, 2010

Given its quality, you probably think it was Kate who took this picture at last night’s Mobile Monday London event. Nope. She spent the evening at an end-of-year function at her daughter’s school. Photo credit here belongs to Deb – who, as you can see, has quickly adopted the Nosy Crow photographic style as her very own.

Last night’s MML theme of 200,000 apps, where’s mine? was particularly timely for us. We’re in the process of building our app marketing strategy so Deb was all ears as the panelists discussed the issue of discoverability, apps as marketing tools, and working with app aggregating portals.

Although the conversation was fairly generic, there were a few interesting take-aways. In a discussion of demographics, Eli Camilleri of mobile market analytic firm Vision Mobile commented that app creators need to increase their focus on niches. Even on niches within those niches. At Nosy Crow we believe our apps customer is the savvy “iPhone mum” seeking engaging, narrative-rich content to share with her child. But we’re well aware that there are subsets of mums in that group, too.

Another panelist insisted that the handset itself is the most important marketing space and that app creators would do well to focus attention there. After all, we do all look at our phones several times a day!

Editech, or Going Digital in Milan

Posted by Kate on Jul 03, 2010

Ahem.

It is now over a week since Kate came back from Editech, where she was a speaker, representing the UK, on a panel, and she’s failed to post about it. Editech’s the Italian Publisher’s Association’s digital publishing conference.

Italy’s another country: they do things differently there. They do conferences differently for starters. This did not work out well for Kate, who’d understood that she was there for a jolly chat about exciting digital topics with a chairman and questions from the audience rather than to do a slide presentation. How wrong she was. Hey ho.

But she ended up talking saying the following things:

The UK had better watch out: the digital market is a global market, and, while UK print looks and feels different from US print, she often can’t tell whether she’s on a UK website or a US website, and people won’t care. The UK’s print publishing industry depends on (1) the international use of English and (2) us seeing the world as our market (we publish more per capita than any other country and we can only do so because we sell outside our own market, while US publishers have such a huge market of consumers themselves that they haven’t had to focus on international selling as much). But much digital innovation is coming from the US, and without the hassle, time-lag, cost and stock-management issues of print publishing, they may eat our European lunch.

And the people who eat UK publishers’ lunch may be US publishers, but they may be people we’ve never heard of before, and certainly people who haven’t been around long. Traditional publishers will have to prove their competence and innovative skills in this new world.

From a children’s publishing perspective, particularly, she sees the smartphone and the iPad and other tablet devices as game-changers. There are over 100 million Apple touch-screen devices out there. She talked about the need to commission material for the device, rather than squashing existing intellectual property onto the phone. That’s what we’re doing at Nosy Crow: we think about what the device does, and think how we can use that to create or enhance a reading experience.

She said that the publishing industry has traditionally given away its relationship with readers to other people – to retailers. We need to build brands and to have relationships with our readers.

Finally, and, she thinks, most importantly, she said that she thinks that publishers need to decide what they are for. In the supply chain between author and reader, no-one has a place by right. As publishers, we have to earn our place. Publishers have historically earned their place by providing creators with up-front payments (advances) and investing in stock and distribution infrastructures. If stock becomes irrelevant, and distribution infrastructures become less expensive (no need for big cross-docked warehouses in digital land), what are publishers bringing to the party. We have to bring

  • Credibility: publishers need to have brands that consumers trust, so that they believe that the fact that something’s been published by an organisation means that it’s worth looking at or buying because it’s been sieved,
  • Creativity: publishers need to shape material, and bring together different kinds of intellectual property, including, increasingly, kinds we’re not used to such as animation, video and music.
  • Consumers: we need to know how to reach readers through intelligent, innovative and trustworthy marketing, and to facilitate readers telling other readers about their experience of us.

Oh, she could bang on about this for hours, and probably will expand on some of this in later posts, but enough for now.

If you want to know what everyone else said, and there were interesting things said and interesting information provided (did you know, eg, that 65% of households in Italy have no broadband, and that 50% have no internet access?), Kate as @nosycrow put a fair old bit of it on Twitter with the hashtag (which she used pretty religiously) #editech10.

Other highlights were a nice saffron risotto and meeting other speakers, including Peter Balis (now, there’s a clever man) digital guru of John Wiley (now, there’s a savvy publisher), here showing off his iPad in a restaurant.

App, app and away

Posted by Deb on Jun 24, 2010

Here’s a sneak peek of a scene from our forthcoming 3-D retelling of The Three Little Pigs. It’s still a work in progress but we love how this app is coming together and wanted to share it.

If you think this looks good here, wait until you see it on an iPad!

We’re in full production mode now and operating at a feverish pace. Our stellar development team is hard at work animating Mrs. Pig and sorting out the mechanics of how speech bubbles appear when characters comment on the story. Deb and Kate have been working through our apps business model and pricing strategy. And next week – along with a few voice actors – we’re heading into the studio with Ali Muirden of Creative Content to record the app’s narration and sound effect tracks.

Tomorrow Kate will be in Milan at EDITECH, the Italian conference on technological innovation in publishing where she’s been invited to participate in a roundtable about digital strategies, challenges and the opportunities ahead. If you can catch her when she’s not speaking or tweeting (follow her at #editech10) she just might show you the latest build of our 3-D Three Little Pigs.

London Book Fair digital conference

Posted by Kate on Apr 19, 2010

Kate and Deb spent yesterday at the London Book Fair digital conference. You can follow what was said on Twitter at #lbfdc, and Nosy Crow (@nosycrow) tweeted throughtout. Kate was on a panel on maximising commercial opportunities in the digital environment.

Several good sessions. Issues covered included the challenge of large-scale organisations working through processes and politics in order to come up with good digital stuff; the fact that publishers haven’t had to link up to consumers seriously before; the sheer variety of digital projects, both marketing and product; and the importance of the smartphone.

Nosy Crow was saying that it was excellent to be a new start-up in this digital environment: we don’t have a big, legacy infrastructure to feed and an established business model to transform from. We don’t even have backlist books that it’s tempting to spend time trying to squash onto a phone. We have freedom to make our own, new business model and we have a small integrated team. We said that, while we’ll be doing more standard digital products (straight ebook novels, eg), we have clearly defined our core digital audience – techno mum of children under 7 (so, in UK terms, pre-school and Key Stage 1) and will deliver exceptional products that have been commissioned for the device – in our case, iTouch, iPhone and iPad at this point – using the capabilities of the device including interaction, sound, animation, text and pictures.

Lots of people – judging by the retweets and the people who wanted to talk to us afterwards – seemed to like this approach.

So now it’s off to the London Book Fair.

London Book Fair up in smoke?

Posted by Kate on Apr 16, 2010

Someone – no-one’s admitting to it, but we suspect Adrian – spilt coffee on one of the hand-made dummies that we’ve been using to gather interest at Bologna, and were planning to reuse at the London Book Fair. This is Camilla with her scalpel and double-sided tape, giving you a glimpse into the throbbing high-tech heart of Nosy Crow’s print book business.

Having seen so many foreign publishers at Bologna, Nosy Crow’s London Book Fair is fairly UK-focussed. Still, we’re sad that a number of friends won’t be turning up from continental Europe and the USA because of the volcano-induced flight cancellations and delays.

But we’re bashing on anyway. Kate will be on a panel called “Maximising digital opportunities across the industry” at the London Book Fair Digital Conference on Sunday which Deb is also attending, and Kate, Camilla, Deb and Imogen will be at the fair on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and expect that they’ll fairly often be found at the IPG stand (J205).

Conference pair

Posted by Kate on Mar 16, 2010

It was a gorgeous spring day today, and Kate and Camilla were off to the corner of St James’s Park, where the crocuses were blooming, for the annual Books and The Consumer Conference. There was lots of interesting stuff said, but the overall message for books was a sobering one: the number of books bought, and the amount of money paid for them (both the average price and the total amount of money spent) decreased in 2009 compared to 2008. The percentage of people in the 15,000 sample who’d bought a book dropped to 56%, though the number of books bought by people who had bought books had increased. Steve Bohme of Book Marketing Ltd, who gave the main presentation, pointed out that books had done less badly than other entertainment products sold in physical form, like DVDs, computer games and CDs (the growth in download sales doesn’t compensate for the loss of revenue on music in physical form).

On the bright side, this was another conference at which the industry considered its digital future, raising all the challenges of staff recruitment, piracy and high costs of devices that any discussion of books and digital involves. A presenter from the US, Kelly Gallagher, reminded us that ebooks currently represent just 3% of the market there, but also pointed out how young the market was, with 34% of the people who said they’d bought an ebook in a survey conducted in November 2009 saying they’d bought their first ebook within the previous 6 months. We felt glad, certainly, that Nosy Crow has an apps dimension.

Another good news story was that the number of children’s books bought increased between 2008 and 2009. This was true even after Stephanie Meyer sales were subtracted: Meyer’s titles are classified as children’s books, even thought they are bought more for young women (17 – 34) than for any other group and people under 17 represent a relatively small part of her audience. The increase was across both fiction and non-fiction, with picture books and early learning (at one end of the age-range spectrum) and horror (remember the Meyer books) and science fiction/fantasy (at the other end of the age-range spectrum) performing perticularly well. Money spent on books bought for children had also increased. Again, we felt pretty chipper that Nosy Crow is a children’s book publisher.

Today’s photo was taken at the conference and is of Camilla with Dawn Burdett (who did a cracking presentation on the Simon and Schuster campaign for The White Queen) and the great Steve Bohme himself, who once again contrived to make statistics – some of them gloom-inducing ones – comprehensible and entertaining.

Oh, and, if you haven’t done it already, please do our Who’s your favourite illustrator survey