Writing the FutureBook

This year’s fifth anniversary FutureBook Conference brings together more than 50 speakers from across the media world for a day of reckoning, realisation and revivification. It will, to borrow from a famous beer advert, refresh the parts other digital and publishing events do not reach.

It is the boldest conference The Bookseller has ever put on, with a new venue The Mermaid Theatre, spanning three different streams and taking in everything from mobile to audio, from the future of the academic book to how Twitter can be the bedrock of a successful book campaign. The conference boasts new speakers as illustrious as Jane Friedman, former chief executive of HarperCollins worldwide and now founder and c.e.o. of Open Road Integrated Media; Penguin Random House’s editorial director of audio Caroline Raphael; and bestselling author Simon Scarrow.

We have taken a fresh approach to the event this year, putting the sessions in the hands of expert chairs from within the sector who can help guide the participants and steer the debates. There are 12 chairs in total, eight of them women.

I’m also pleased to reveal that for the first time we have an overall chair for FutureBook 2015: Sandeep Mahal, until recently director of BBC arts and digital project The Space. Sandeep brings with her immense experience of publishing, the wider arts and digital media. She has a deep knowledge of publishing and enthusiasm for what you do (Sandeep shares her vision for the conference here). She is already working with us, helping to shape the event so that it is both publishing-savvy and outwardly focused. More announcements along these lines are to come, along with a special (and remarkable) fifth keynote. Stay tuned.

I am incredibly proud of the programme this year, but it did not come solely from me. I have, over the past six months, spoken to many people from within and outside of publishing, and have tailored the event around current obsessions, fascinations and challenges. It combines the best of indigenous publishing thinking, with perspectives from those coming at this from the outside. This being the fifth anniversary of the first FutureBook Conference, we have also brought back past speakers, such as Stephen Page and Charlie Redmayne, to examine what they have learned during this period of rapid change.

Page will pose the following question in his keynote: “Have trade publishers travelled far enough in search of the new?” The answer will surprise many of you.

In Springer Nature’s Annette Thomas we have a first-time speaker coming to us at a pivotal moment in that business’ evolution; and Pottermore’s Susan Jurevics is an executive who is starting to make her mark both on Pottermore and on how we think about the wider content business.

This year, we have introduced dedicated sessions examining the “new publishing” from Quarto’s print- on-demand-driven This is Your Cookbook initiative to Visual Editions’ collaboration with Google Creative Lab. In addition, the BookTech Showcase, curated by tech and culture journalist Molly Flatt, will put delegates and disruptors together so that we can understand the new disruption early—and so that these innovators can better understand us, too.

Of course, the FutureBook Conference is a reflection of the industry—it is the book trade’s digital platform. As such, it is important that the event is well supported. This year we have more speakers than ever before, across a broader programme at the end of a week that begins with our new event, Author Day, and culminates in the prestigious FutureBook Awards. We also have double the number of sponsor partners this year. I am grateful to all of these speakers and sponsors, and in particular the Firsty Group, which rather appropriately is the sponsor of the all-important post-show drinks.

FutureBook works when the room is bursting—full of people, ideas and connections. Let’s make it so.


The FutureBook Conference 2015 is taking place on 4th December. You can find out more about the conference here and buy tickets for it here.