The IPG Annual Conference was held this year in Oxfordshire on Wednesday 26 to Friday 28 February. Over 300 delegates attended the conference with a full itinerary of expert speakers addressing the hot topics in publishing.

This year, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend the event, and it really opened my eyes to how the publishing industry is developing. I was also quite satisfied to acknowledge that, although University of Wales Press is a small organisation, we are moving forward at the same pace as bigger companies. Attending conferences and events such as this is such a good opportunity to socialise with similar publishers and discuss and swap ideas and strategies, and compare how our organisations are developing.

A number of diverse sessions took place during the course of the three days, and I was able to attend very informative discussions, including the keynote speech from Stephen Page, CEO of Faber & Faber, and discussions led by James Daunt, Director of Waterstones, and Reeta Windsor, business development manager with Nielsen. The message which stood out with speakers throughout the conference was the need for publishers to embrace the future, and to be innovative and adapt their ideas accordingly. With the website now live, and our titles available as e-books through 14 aggregators, I think we’re moving in the right direction and it was good to have confirmation of this by attending the sessions and speaking with colleagues from other publishers.

Another session which resonated with me was given by Osprey, who reiterated the importance of customer engagement through their website, something which is very important to us as an organisation. With our own website now up and running, we hope to now have a platform from which to develop and improve our relationship with authors and customers. James Daunt and Reeta Windsor provided further proof of how adapting and developing customer relationships can work. As an academic publisher, with strong support from lay readers, it can be difficult to market our titles appropriately at times, and in a way which suits our varied readership. Waterstones have addressed this by changing the way in which each individual bookshop works in different regions. James Daunt recognised that the audience is different depending on area, and Waterstones stores are now more streamlined, and booksellers are better equipped to target their regional markets.

The conference wasn’t all about learning new trends in the publishing industry however. As a 90s baby, the Elvis impersonator providing entertainment after the dinner on Wednesday evening was an education in itself!
Catrin Harries, Sales and Marketing Assistant