Category Archives: Digital

Q&A with Shazam’s Jeremy LoCurto

By | Digital, Insight, Interview, Network | No Comments

JeremyJeremy is based in Silicon Valley and leads key business development initiatives at Shazam. Prior to working in the tech industry, he spent several years at HarperCollins Publishers in London after graduating from Trinity College, Dublin, with a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature. You can connect with him here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremylocurto/

Tell us a bit about your job.

I work on Shazam’s business development team and lead partnerships focused on user growth and new revenue opportunities. I’m also a commercial advisor for a digital marketing and analytics startup called Amplespot. 

How ( if at all ) did the skills and experience you acquired working for a traditional book publisher help you in subsequent roles at Samsung and Shazam?

The lessons I learned from publishing were influenced by a few historically unique events that took place while I was working in the industry. In particular: the financial crisis and its aftermath, the birth of the app economy, and Amazon’s rise as the western world’s dominant bookseller. These events taught me that no assumption or status quo is sacrosanct and that you must always be ready to move fast so that you can take advantage of disruption when it comes. 

On the flip side — spending my formative years immersed in an industry with famously long production cycles forced me to develop a long-term perspective on product and commercial strategy that’s been a useful counterweight to the faster-paced environments I’ve worked in since. It requires a different kind of thinking to anticipate trends and make big bets on the next zeitgeist. And books take a long time to make! You have to plan for unforeseen complications that may come up ten months down the line when you have twenty thousand books chugging across the ocean on a cargo ship. I learned a lot watching talented publishers mingle gut-decisions with foresight. 

How might digital innovation continue to disrupt traditional content owning brands?

I think there are two angles to look at here: 1) structural shifts in the way content is financed and distributed; 2) and a longer-term evolution in content creation. 

A big finance story in the music space last week was the move by Royalty Exchange to offer investors the chance to buy shares in a music rights portfolio that includes Eminem’s catalogue. It’s not hard to imagine content ownership increasingly decoupled from content production. What changes in a world where royalty rights are owned by pension funds and day traders rather than authors or publishers? Does anything change? And when it comes to distribution, consider that Netflix spent $6bn on original content productions last year. Together with Amazon and Hulu, they are starting to outspend legacy studios on content destined for exclusive distribution on their platforms. Some streaming music platforms, like Saavn, have launched their own labels. Another music streaming service was recently called out for publishing original generic content in their popular playlists. Maybe this points to a greater trend towards vertical integration within the content industry. 

From a content creation standpoint, I think that data and machine learning will continue to upend traditional processes. Today, book publishers have unprecedented access to user data at scale that simply wasn’t feasible in the world of bricks and mortar distribution. User info like gender / age / income / timestamp(s) / location(s) / device type has clear value for sales and marketing activities and is probably starting to influence commissioning decisions. Beyond enhanced demographic data, advances in machine learning could make the kind of corpus analyses that dictionaries have been doing for decades relevant to commercial publishers. Could you train an algorithm to find the next big author by teaching it what bestsellers look like and then unleashing it on Wattpad? Could you feed an AI enough cold war spy novels so that you could train it to output something that’s enough like John Le Carre to sell commercially? I’m sure some publishers are already experimenting with things like this.

Tell us the next big thing in tech.

I’d wager that the biggest tech stories in the next five years will be autonomous vehicles and augmented reality. I think both have the potential to be interesting for book publishers.

When Level 5 autonomy (i.e. fully self-driving cars) arrives, people who used to drive will have lots of leisure time during their commutes. Maybe they’ll fill it by reading. 

Mass-market augmented reality will create huge opportunities to layer content onto users’ surroundings in real time. I get really excited imagining the awesome experiences that people will build for AR using content that is in book format today. 

What books have influenced you the most?

A Moveable Feast by Hemingway and The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.

Q&A with Natalia Kucirkova

By | Author, Digital | No Comments

Natalia Kucirkova is a Senior Research Fellow at the University College London. Her research concerns innovative ways of supporting children’s book reading, digital literacy and exploring the role of personalisation in early years. Her publications have appeared in Communication Disorders Quarterly, First Language, Computers & Education, and Cambridge Journal of Education.

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Nominate: The Unsung Heroes of Publishing 2017

By | Agents, Author, Brand Publishing, Design, Digital, Editing, Events, Freelance, Ghostwriters, Grads, Network, Publishing & Consultancy, Self publishing, Startup, Students, Translation | No Comments

Unsung Heroes 2017

It’s that time of year again: time to spread goodwill and show some appreciation for your favourite colleagues, freelancers and employees. After last year’s inaugural vote, we are particularly looking forward to this year’s Unsung Heroes of Publishing campaign, where we hope to highlight a new group of exceptional publishing specialists.

This year, we’d once again like your help shining a light on publishing professionals who are particularly talented, enterprising and trusted in their respective roles, but who may not have received the broader recognition they deserve. Last year’s campaign confirmed what great stock authors put in their editors and designers. This year we want to celebrate some of publishing’s less visible – and less lionised – contributors, with a focus on the breadth of disciplines needed to make good books happen.

Whether you want to sing the praises of your production controller or recognise your recipe developer, we’re hoping for a range of submissions that reflects the diverse skillset each book represents. We’d particularly encourage you to nominate members of the freelance community, on whom so much of publishing depends but who, by the nature of what they do, often fly under the radar.

Whoever they are, if they deserve a pat on the back, send us an email below or to info@wearewhitefox.com with their name, job title, employer (if relevant) and a few sentences about what makes them praiseworthy. Let us know whether you’re happy for us to use your name and statement if your nominee gets selected, and that’s it!

The final selection will be influenced by recommendations, but also by the number of submissions received. So if you know that other people agree your nominee deserves extra recognition, ask them to submit their own recommendation, too.

 

Nominate a deserving colleague for #UH0P17!

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Industry Tipsheet: Bibliocloud’s Emily Labram on workflow automation

By | Digital, Insight, Publishing & Consultancy, Startup, Uncategorized | No Comments

Emily Labram is product manager at Bibliocloud, the next-generation publishing management system, and a Bookseller Rising Star of 2016. In her previous roles at HarperCollins, she created the Game of Thrones app that won FutureBook’s Digital Book of the Year. Her mission at Bibliocloud is to liberate publishers through automation so they can focus on the work that matters. Here she shares some valuable tips on automating your workflow.

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Q&A with John Schwab of Curtain Call

By | Author, Digital, Self publishing, Startup, Uncategorized | No Comments

We spoke to John Schwab of Curtain Call, a brand that brings London’s thriving theatre industry together. John, an actor and writer, started Curtain Call with Matt Humphrey, a photographer specialising in theatre. Their first photography book, Curtain Call: A Year Backstage in London Theatre has satiated the curiousity of thousands of theatre enthusiasts and is now up for a British Book Production and Design award.

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Q&A with Richard Kilgariff of Bookomi

By | Digital, Interview, Publishing & Consultancy, Startup | No Comments

We spoke to the founder and editor of Bookomi, Richard Kilgarriff. Bookomi is a monthly poll of books worth talking about, ranked by business leaders from a range of industries and professions. Based on the results of this predictive poll, Richard advises corporate clients on their choice of topics and speakers for internal and external events. Named as a Rising Star by The Bookseller magazine in 2012, he is the producer and presenter of Books for Breakfast at Soho House and Bookomi Presents at Second Home, playing host to published scientists, economists, artists, founders, technologists, management theorists and cultural influencers. The Bookomi podcast launches on Curio.io in December 2016 and Richard is currently gathering material for a book project entitled Superknowledge – 100 Leaders Who Are Readers, scheduled for release in 2018. Before launching Bookomi, Richard was a broadcast media executive at Turner Broadcasting, Rapture TV and Sony Gold’s award-winning Virgin Radio Breakfast show.

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Q&A with Belle Media’s Kay Hutchison

By | Author, Digital, Interview | No Comments

We spoke to Kay Hutchison, founder of Belle Media, a London-based independent publisher and production company, which she runs with fellow Director Richard Dikstra. Kay has a talent for developing large-scale, cross-sector partnerships, bringing teams together to deliver results and has held a variety of senior roles in TV – BBC, Channel 5, Channel 4 and Disney. Kay is also a leading figure within Tech London Advocates. She was born and brought up in Scotland and is currently writing her first book, My Life in Thirty Therapies.

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Humane Typography in the Digital Age

By | Design, Digital, Guest Post, Insight, Startup, Uncategorized | No Comments

We are pleased to reproduce this brilliant essay on typography’s evolving significance in a digital landscape by UX designer and typography enthusiast Matej Latin. Read on for an abridged history of typography and its changing relationship with humanity. This article was originally published on Matej’s blog A Day in the Life of a Designer. Among Matej’s other ventures is Gutenberg, a web typography starter kit that brings meaning and craftsmanship to web typography. Matej is originally from Slovenia.

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