Westchester Words: Education, Ed-Tech, and Publishing

Publishing Now ’21 Audio Excerpts: International Publishing & Brexit

May 06, 2021 Westchester Publishing Services and guests Season 1 Episode 10
Westchester Words: Education, Ed-Tech, and Publishing
Publishing Now ’21 Audio Excerpts: International Publishing & Brexit
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Westchester Words: Education, Ed-Tech, and Publishing
Publishing Now ’21 Audio Excerpts: International Publishing & Brexit
May 06, 2021 Season 1 Episode 10
Westchester Publishing Services and guests

Featuring audio excerpts from the Publishing Now ’21: Looking Forward webinar, which was cohosted by Westchester Publishing Services and Publishers Weekly on April 6.  Each of the excerpts focuses on specific topic areas that were discussed during the webinar.

In this episode you’ll hear another audio excerpt from the Publishing Now ’21: Looking Forward webinar, featuring Cathy Felgar, Publishing Operations Director for Princeton University Press, Tom Chalmers, Managing Director of Legend Times Ltd and Dominique Raccah, CEO and Publisher of Sourcebooks. They discuss International Publishing & Brexit, and answer questions from moderator Jim Milliot, VP & Editorial Director of Publishers Weekly about how the pandemic has impacted their businesses in terms of sourcing materials, printing and binding books overseas, and importing finished products, as well as the challenges Brexit has posed for publishers within the UK and internationally. The Publishing Now ’21 audio excerpt series will conclude with a look at what’s next for the industry, as the panelists consider what the changes of the past year will mean for the publishing industry as it continues to move forward.

Show Notes Transcript

Featuring audio excerpts from the Publishing Now ’21: Looking Forward webinar, which was cohosted by Westchester Publishing Services and Publishers Weekly on April 6.  Each of the excerpts focuses on specific topic areas that were discussed during the webinar.

In this episode you’ll hear another audio excerpt from the Publishing Now ’21: Looking Forward webinar, featuring Cathy Felgar, Publishing Operations Director for Princeton University Press, Tom Chalmers, Managing Director of Legend Times Ltd and Dominique Raccah, CEO and Publisher of Sourcebooks. They discuss International Publishing & Brexit, and answer questions from moderator Jim Milliot, VP & Editorial Director of Publishers Weekly about how the pandemic has impacted their businesses in terms of sourcing materials, printing and binding books overseas, and importing finished products, as well as the challenges Brexit has posed for publishers within the UK and internationally. The Publishing Now ’21 audio excerpt series will conclude with a look at what’s next for the industry, as the panelists consider what the changes of the past year will mean for the publishing industry as it continues to move forward.

Tom Chalmers:

[inaudible]

Nicole Tomassi:

Welcome to Westchester words, education, ed tech and publishing. In this episode, which is the second of three audio excerpts from the Publishing Now, 21 Looking Forward webinar, which was co-hosted by Publishers Weekly and Westchester Publishing Services on April 6th. You'll hear from Cathy Felgar, Publishing Operations Director of Princeton University Press, Tom Chalmers , Managing Director of Legend Times, and Dominique Raccah, CEO and publisher of Sourcebooks. They will be discussing international publishing and Brexit and answering questions from moderator Jim Milliot, VP and editorial director of publishers weekly about how the pandemic has impacted their businesses in terms of sourcing materials, printing, and binding books, overseas importing finished products, and the challenges that Brexit has posed for their businesses within the UK and internationally the publishing now 21 audio expert series, we'll conclude with a look at what's next for the industry as all of the panelists consider what the changes of the past year mean for the publishing industry, as it continues to move forward. In addition to these audio excerpts, you can watch the entire webinar on the Westchester publishing services, YouTube channel and visit our website Westchester publishing services.com for additional content related to the publishing. Now, 21 webinar, I hope you enjoy this excerpt

Tom Chalmers:

[inaudible] .

Cathy Felgar:

So Princeton university press publishes about 270 books a year, roughly half trade. Our main office is in Princeton, New Jersey, but we have smaller offices in the UK near Oxford and one in Beijing. So I would say overall business has been doing well. Um , despite the pandemic, after the first two months of the pandemic where we saw a drop in sales, the levels came back up and they've been good since then. We, especially with eBooks, we hope to see this as a permanent increase. In the overseas printing area, we have a lot of delays with shipping and a lot of congestion at the ports and domestically we're seeing some shortages of trucking. So sometimes it's hard to get the books just into the warehouse, even once they've been printed . PUP sales are about 20% from our UK office, and so we're running into problems there with Brexit, especially importing books from Europe to the UK.

Tom Chalmers:

Yeah. So from our perspective and kind of , um, the short headline summary of , uh, of how we found the last year is , um, we had , uh , we had a big, I had created a big five-year plan, called the 2020 plan, which , um, which ended after about two months, and then we had to replan then, we had to replan everything . So it's , so it's been a big challenge, but ultimately as , as others have mentioned where there have been some short-term hits, there's actually been areas of longer term growth. That's kind of quite exciting and, and I think will stay beyond , um, beyond the time now. In terms of the , um, so it gets bit by bit in terms of the trade list. It's , uh , it's been very similar to what as Dominique said, which is , um, the growth in backlist has probably been the most notable side. So whereas we used to sell 65% front list to 35% backlist . That's literally exactly swapped around in the last year. So we're now settling , um , pretty much 60, just short of 65% , um , backlist as opposed to frontlist. Um, and I think that's, that's a different challenge in a way for big publishers than for smaller presses, because big publishers have a certain size where the smaller presses , obviously it changes the way you treat those backlists. So in a way you almost have less of a differentiation between front and back list. I think it's also flipped around a bit, the traditional publicity marketing cycle that traditionally you would publicize the key titles and then kind of marketing, but then take them along. Um, now by its nature, particularly with online sales, which are much less tied to pub date, we find marketing is actually a kind of constant presence all the way through. And it's actually publicity, which picks up on, on marketing for , for the bigger titles. So it's kind of flipped that side round more and we've certainly put a lot more investment in, in the way we market online and advertise books. Um, that's yeah, that's been very different. Obviously the bookshop side here in the UK , um, it disappeared completely and when the shutdown happened last March. So we , um, you know, it was literally down 95% at one point in March. And then it came back in the summer when we started to see reopenings. And then in the UK, we went into a second lockdown , pretty much fully locked down from January. So we see that fall back again. So at best last year for us, it came out to about 50% and then it stopped down again. I think realistically, it's going to be a steady, incremental growth that , um, but we also, as, as, as , um, Dominique and Cathy mentioned, we've seen a lot of innovative things and bookshops and outlets and actually the drop in sales hasn't been as big here in the second lockdown as it was in the first lockdown. And part of that is the way they've increased their online, whether online sales or different activities or webinars or events. So I think it's, it's , I think that market will come back in a slightly different way. In terms of our academic list., um , likewise, most places, books sales on the academic side has been challenging because most of the traditional market education , um, as , you know, lots of it's been shut down or, you know, obviously budgets and it's all I think just dealing with providing education has been the biggest challenge for the education sector never mind kind of , um, eh, the publishing side. But , um, the , what we have seen growth is in our journal side, which doubled the number of journals we've published and actually the demand for research has never been greater. And , um, that's the side we're seeing ourselves. Um, so our actual journal revenues have actually they're new because we only bought the press in 2019, but it over doubled last year. Um, there's various things within that, beyond this call, which is the kind of open access and transformative , um, transformative agreements. And then, you know, the move towards particularly the pandemic has sped up the demand to have availability for research for obvious reasons. So that's pushed that down the line. And again, there's differences between different countries, like kind of in the US, a lot of the push is more towards , um, green , um, access whereas in the UK. It tends to be more, the transformative agreements Cathy will know this far better than me, but , um, it's um, so yeah, that's how research has been a huge, huge learning curve for me, which has been very interesting. Um, and yeah, the, the one other side to mention briefly is , um, kind of is the Brexit side. It was just specifically relevant to us in the UK , um, as it was ideally timed just as we entered on first and other , our latest lockdown was also for Brexit to happen after it kind of quiet first month, we've seen a big hit, we're starting to see the impact on the supply chain, as Dominique mentioned. Um, we're seeing pretty much twice as long lead times for most things in the production chain in terms of printing delivery , um, that has increased where, where we print in Europe. So we've had deliveries tied up for a week in customs and extra paperwork and all these types of things which has happened, adding extra time into the chains. I don't necessarily think there's an easy answer to that apart from trying to build in some extra time. And it's it's, and it's a pity because it's , it's, it's a barrier to trade and I hope it improves. And I guess the , the final point on that side on the kind of availability as mentioned from POD is that data has become, you know, it took publishers quite a long time in some ways , some were better at it than others. I mean Sourcebooks were particularly strong on data and someone we always looked up to,and what we've done is the kind of metadata and that side of data, but actually the next stage of data is actually in availability. It's in , um, it's in kind of the actual availability in those markets because travel restrictions, logistical selections , are probably going to be in the next few years. Um, so actually by using data, not just as a, as a passive thing, but actually as a physical thing within different countries within kind of availability outside of stuff is going to be the next, the kind of next key side of , um , of publisher data and , you know, particularly where the market's going availability is going to be a bigger challenge than it has been before to cross off between the , um, to balance out the logistical challenges. So yeah, I mean, that's kind of enough for me for now, but , um, I think the, you know, I think ultimately the headline doesn't cover all the many, many challenges within it, but I think the pandemic has kind of catapulted, it's created some temporary changes, but it's also catapulted most industries further down the road for good and bad reasons. And I think that's also forced us to make some of the changes we probably should have made or were going to make quicker. So, you know, I, I think as it's gone on with, despite the challenges, we kind of feel increasingly confident about the future and it's exciting that publishing's come through it as it has, but that's enough for me anyway.

Jim Milliot:

Before we let you go completely, Tom , do you have , um, do you think you have good visibility on where Brexit is gonna take you or is it still really kind of changing week by week or day by day?

Tom Chalmers:

I don't. I mean, personally, I kind of took the long approach of towards the end last year. I tried to ignore it while I was dealing with a pandemic and then , then it's alive and now we're seeing the impact. I think, I think it's so politicalized, and it's , it's difficult to really understand that, you know, I certainly think both sides or certainly from our side, you know , we have a government in that without getting political, have a government in that championed Brexit, so in a way they're trying to make it out as positive as possible and even kind of hide it behind other news. I think, I think particularly with the way, particularly with the challenges and in the pandemic and the, you know, the perspective of all the wider challenges, I think there is probably more of a positivity hopefully on all sides to make it as smooth as possible. Um, so, but I think realistically, you know, we're looking at probably two years of logistical challenges. I mean, that's, I'm not particularly informed, but that , that, that would be my, I guess it's going to be a while before it settles down. And I think it'll settle down a little bit and then there'll be new challenges that come up as, the fallout or rules change or different cases come up. So I think it will be a bit up and down. Um, so I don't think it will, it basically be a barrier for trade. I think that will be, will present a challenge for the next couple of years.

Jim Milliot:

And one final thing, maybe on Brexit in terms of publishing directly. And how is it affecting your different trading partners? Is it mostly an issue with, with Europe or is it the United States as well?

Tom Chalmers:

I mean, we're early into it, and the main issues we've seen as in Europe. I mean, I've only focused on the logistical side. There's a , there's a huge, bigger side in terms of recruitment and talent and, and offers. And, you know , there's a whole bigger side, which is kind of too big for this. I've not, but I know speaking to some partners outside , um, some Indian partners and the U S. I know it's seems to be cropping up more and more in conversation is, is a bit of a challenge. Um, you know , and the problem is for us, is people will do trade with other people, because it's less hassle , you know, we get told directly by European customers that want to do that, but frankly, it's just easier to order stock from here or whatever it is. So , um , Wish it hadn't happened, but we're tying to make the best of it would be my summary,

Jim Milliot:

Dominic, I saw you frowning on the mention of a branch that , so what's your relationship been like since it started kicking?

Dominique Raccah:

Um , as, as Tom said that that , uh, certainly creates supply chain side challenges. You've seen some customers actually shut down on ordering. Some customers have shut down shipping, some customer . I mean, it's been, it's been an interesting evolution from, from the U S um, and certainly as Tom said, I think it's gonna take a couple of years to sort itself out.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for listening to this audio excerpt from the Publishing Now, 21 webinar. The entire webinar is available to view at both the Westchester publishing services, YouTube page, and our website Westchester publishing services.com, where you'll also find bonus content related to the webinar. Be sure to follow us on your favorite streaming platform to be notified about new episodes when they become available or to find previous episodes you may have missed. You can also find all of the episodes plus additional bonus content that has been shared by some of our guests on the podcast page of our website, which is accessible from our homepage Westchester publishing services.com. In the meantime, please share your thoughts or comments about today's discussion and tell us what topics you'd like Westchester to cover in future episodes. By emailing us at Westchester words at Westchester, E D S V C s.com. Join us next time when we'll be discussing another topic of importance to education, ed-tech and publishing

Nicole Tomassi:

Until then stay safe, be well and stay tuned.