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Meet our board members
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Description: The IPG
Posted by IPG
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As well as helping to steer the work of the IPG, our board members are leaders at some of the UK’s best publishing companies. Here they share their opinions on opportunities and challenges for independent publishing and the value of the IPG.

Alison Jones

Description: AlisonJones
1 What is your job title and company?
I’m director of Practical Inspiration Publishing, which is part of a larger company, Alison Jones Business Services. We publish ‘books that mean business’—books that are part of the broader content strategy of a business or organisation, using both author-pays and traditional models. What’s different about us is that we work with authors right upstream to ensure their business strategy and book are aligned, so that both are more successful. I also host The Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast and I’m head judge of the Business Book Awards.
2 What do you think is the biggest opportunity and biggest challenge for independent publishers at the moment?
In the age of Amazon, self-publishing, free content and infinite competing distractions. It’s harder than ever to make sustainable profits from publishing books through the trade. But that challenge opens up other opportunities for publishers willing to diversify their revenue streams. Much of our revenue comes from coaching authors and delivering events and training, all of which support the publishing. It’s about creating a portfolio that balances revenue, profitability and risk.
3 What have you found to be the best benefits of belonging to the IPG?
Although I’ve been in publishing all my life, I’d never set up a company until this one, so I’ve benefited enormously from the IPG’s mentoring scheme. I’ve also mentored others, which has been richly rewarding too. I’ve found the IPG Skills Hub invaluable for areas that are less familiar to me, such as PR, sales and distribution. But probably the best benefit of all has been the IPG conferences, particularly the Annual Spring Conference, where I’ve met so many generous and supportive people and learned so much from the sessions. My experience of large corporate publishers hadn’t prepared me for the collaborative, innovative energy of the independent scene and it’s been great to be part of it.

Caroline de la Bedoyere

Description: CarolineDeLaBedoyere
1 What is your job title and company?
I am an owner and director of Search Press, a family-owned company that has published art and craft books since 1970, though I have only been here for a mere 20 years. I have special responsibility for our rights and digital activity and part of our export business, as well as a watching brief over the rest of the company with my husband Martin, who is the managing director and son of the founder Charlotte de la Bedoyere.
2 What do you think is the biggest opportunity and biggest challenge for independent publishers at the moment?
Quite often the biggest challenges are also the big opportunities. Dealing with Amazon, for example, can be incredibly hard when you are a small player, but it also presents a level playing field and a shop window for even the smallest player. New technology investments can be expensive and mind-boggling for small companies without specialist technology departments, but independents with nimble attitudes and specialist knowledge of markets can spot and exploit niches before the big guys have even managed to find a date for a meeting to discuss possibilities. As Independents we can often watch corporates make expensive mistakes and learn quickly how to swoop in and make technology work for us.
3 What have you found to be the best benefits of belonging to the IPG?
The IPG is an amazing forum for the sharing of ideas and information that is unlike any other industry group. The Skills Hub is a superb resource that is getting better every month and is a huge benefit of membership. Not all IPG members have big training budgets, and the Skills Hub is a great place to start learning. The Independent Publishing Awards are great too, providing a showcase to help even the most specialist of publishers stand out and be celebrated.

David Graham

Description: DavidGraham
1 What is your job title and company?
I am the managing director of Pavilion Books.
2 What do you think is the biggest opportunity and biggest challenge for independent publishers at the moment?
The biggest opportunity is the ever-increasing ease of access to the global market. Barriers to entry have tumbled, with low-cost, short-run printing enabling all sorts of options for low-risk publishing decisions, and online retail offering pretty low-cost access to the world market. The advantages of scale of the corporates has diminished, and whilst not billiard table flat there has never been a more even playing field in publishing—certainly in the last 40 years.The biggest challenge is the same for all publishers big or small: the threat from other media and sources of information and entertainment. The alternatives to picking up a book—be it reading for pleasure or gathering of information—proliferate, and often come at extremely low or no cost. Books need to fight harder to compete for space in people’s leisure time.
3 What have you found to be the best benefits of belonging to the IPG?
Aside from the many practical and financial benefits that membership brings, I think one of the best advantages is the strong sense of kinship and shared values that exists within the IPG. We are competitors but also share the same common purpose to get great books into the hands of as many people as possible.

James Woollam

Description: JamesWoollam
1 What is your job title and company?
I am the managing director of F&W Media International. We publish new titles predominantly in the craft category, undertake distribution for a series of American imprints, and run a direct to consumer ecommerce brand at sewandso.co.uk. My role is to oversee all of that activity, and the job brings with all the variety that goes with it. Any and every day can involve input on editorial decisions, sales performance review, marketing decision-making, distribution and operations issues, HR matters and more. Predominantly my responsibility is to support the talented team we have managing each part of our business.
2 What do you think is the biggest opportunity and biggest challenge for independent publishers at the moment?I think the opportunities and challenges come from the same context. It has never been easier for independent publishers to carve out a niche, build a readership and online following, reach a worldwide audience and be innovative and nimble. Doing all of that effectively while running the day-to-day aspects of a business, and with the speed of change in our industry, places great demands on individuals or small teams. It’s exciting, challenging and relentless but incredibly rewarding when it comes together.
3 What have you found to be the best benefits of belonging to the IPG?The IPG creates a collegiate environment where you can share issues and learn from peers. Speakers at events are always practical, inspiring or both, and the networking and discussion opportunities are tremendously valuable. As a regional business the IPG helps me stay informed and connected to the industry.

Jonathan Harris

Description: JonathanHarris
1 What is your role?
As President of the IPG I work closely with Bridget and the rest of the board on the strategy and governance of the IPG, focusing always on ensuring a robust and healthy future so that we continue to deliver outstanding support to our members.
2 What do you think is the biggest opportunity and biggest challenge for independent publishers at the moment?
Challenge and opportunity are two sides of the same coin, and the astonishing strength of the independent publishing sector is its inclination to relish both, and to tackle them with creativity and enthusiasm.
3 What have you found to be the best benefits of belonging to the IPG?
I’ve been a member for many years, and I continue to value above all else the community that is the IPG, where members support and encourage one another.

Martin Casimir

Description: MartinCasimir
1 What is your job title and company?
I am the managing director of Maths - No Problem!, an award-winning educational publisher specialising in primary maths. My role is as a general manager, but I also fulfil the role of sales director. My key responsibilities are setting and achieving financial objectives, setting strategic goals, ensuring the business operates efficiently and competitively, and making sure we have a happy and productive team.
2 What do you think is the biggest opportunity and biggest challenge for independent publishers at the moment?
Dealing with the changing landscape of sales models and formats, and the effect of the internet, both positive and negative.
3 What have you found to be the best benefits of belonging to the IPG?
Collaboration and networking.

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