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University librarian speaks at London Book Fair

University librarian speaks at London Book Fair on the next chapter of book publishing

London Book Fair took place at Kensington Olympia from 14-16 March and on day one of the event, the University's Repository and Open Access Librarian, Lucy Ayre, presented in the seminar, Shaping the Story: How New Technologies are Bringing About the Next Chapter in Academic Book Publishing

She highlighted the challenges that university librarians face in providing access to academic books for students and researchers. Our large and diverse student body means electronic access to books is vital to ensure students get fare and equal access to the books they need for their module. E-book licenses don't always provide students with the  access they need, and many still prefer to use the printed book where possible. The seminar was listed as one of the 10 talks to attend, and it was a full house

Other speakers included:

  • John Harrison, Reader in Human Geography and Research Manager, Loughborough University
  • Dr Niels Peter Thomas, Chief Book Strategist, Springer Nature
  • James Hardcastle, Senior Manager Product Analytics, Taylor & Francis
  • Kathy Christian, Chief Operating Officer,

The discussion, involving publishers, academics and technical companies, covered exciting solutions that are beginning to emerge within the academic book industry to help tackle this difficult question, and that are giving the academic book a new lease of life.

Some of the topics discussed were -

  • How Augmented Reality is being used in engineering design textbooks to helps students visualise the objects being described in full 3D. 
  • How audio and video files are being embedded into electronic books to make multi-media editions.
  • Researchers, who want and need to demonstrate their research impact, are beginning to track the usage that their book publications are making online. Bookmetrix shows the number of citations, social media mentions, downloads and book reviews a book has received. 
  • Larger publishers are beginning to join smaller start-up companies in producing Open Access books; books that are completely free for the user to read online and download. Though this is an expensive venture for publishers to take on, Open Access books are getting 400+ readers per month, compared to many not being able to hit this number of purchases in their lifetime.

Students from Derby's MA Publishing course were present at the Fair, accompanied by their lecturer, David Barker. Some of the comments from the students were: 

“Everyone enjoyed the seminars. There was a wide range of topics discussed and whenever attendees had questions, the speakers always answered them.”

“Most of us got the chance to talk to interesting people. Like Sam Missingham (Head of Events, Harpercollins), Stephen Page (CEO, Faber) and Brian May (Queen guitarist, noted astrophysicist).

Lucy added: "It was a wonderful chance to meet others passionate about publishing, books and Open Access."