Hello, my name is Sam Town, and I’m the new Business Development Manager for Newgen. This May, Newgen Publishing exhibited at the Independent Publishers Guild’s (IPG) 2021 Virtual Spring Conference.
This is the third IPG virtual conference which Newgen has exhibited at in the last year – and it just gets better! Attendance over the two days of the conference was certainly healthy, and comprised of 15 exhibitors (see Newgen’s virtual booth, above), 46 speakers and 583 attendees overall.
The theme of the conference was around the future of publishing – what does it look like and how has the pandemic changed the way we all produce, sell and consume content?
The two day conference kicked off with a keynote session from forecaster and author Azeem Azhar about the ways in which technology has transformed many aspects of our lives and how the pandemic has accelerated the changes wrought by technology across the publishing industry, which was a thread which ran through the conference as a whole.
An interesting session with James Daunt of Waterstones, Bookshop.org’s Nicola Vanderbilt and Andy Rossiter of Rossiter Books looked at how the pandemic has changed the ways in which consumers find and buy books online and offline. The general consensus was that people had really missed bookshops during the lockdowns. Andy Rossiter noted: "People have been craving the inviting atmosphere of bookshops… they've realised that they need to use independents or lose them."
Despite the challenges wrought by the pandemic, there was a real sense of optimism regarding the future of independent publishers. Although the last eighteen months have been tough, SAGE's Ziyad Marar said, "This is an exciting and optimistic time despite the worries we've been through," and Helen Kogan of Kogan Page added, "There's never been such a level playing field between small and large publishers or a better time to reach new markets and try new formats."
A keynote session came from author and Costa Book of the Year Award Winner, Monique Roffey. Monique discussed her experience with the independent publisher Peepal Tree Press, the effect that major awards can have on publishers and authors and the unique strengths of independents: "Big companies are well resourced but in indies, we're at the core of what they do," she said. "Independent publishers are critical to literary fiction, without them our world would look very grim and monolithic."
Other 'hot topic' sessions included the big issues in Open Access for books, the terrific growth of audiobooks, diversity and inclusivity in the industry, and looking after the mental health and well-being of remote and home-working teams.
There was a real sense of industry optimism which ran through the entire event, and at Newgen we’re already looking forward to the IPG’s Autumn conference.