#FutureBook recap: The Bookseller 100

#FutureBook recap: The Bookseller 100

Even as we started #FutureChat, some of the keenest observations on The Bookseller's new listing of the 100 most influential people in the UK book business  were being drawn by my colleague Philip Jones in his commentary, Centuries apart. He wrote:  
Looking back at the first Bookseller Century (as it was then known, in 2009), is like viewing another country. Borders/Books Etc was on the cusp of administration, Stieg Larsson was peaking, while Waterstones’ new distribution facility, the hub, was creaking. The Kindle was just beginning its worldwide roll-out, with UK publishers reportedly keen to prevent Amazon dominating digital sales in the UK, as had already happened in the US.
One of the most interesting subsets of the listing is the "evergreen" contingent, as they're designated -- people who have been named in all six years of the list's life. They include, as Jones notes, mostly publishers:
  • Jamie Byng of Canongate
  • Ian Chapman of Simon & Schuster UK
  • Richard Charkin of Bloomsbury
  • Erik Engstrom of Reed Elsevier
  • John Fallon of Pearson
  • Larry Finlay of Transworld
  • Peter Florence of the Hay Festival
  • James Daunt of Waterstones
  • Tim Hely Hutchinson of Hachette UK
  • Anthony Forbes Watson of Pan Macmillan
  • Jonny Geller of Curtis Brown
  • Roger Horton of Taylor & Francis
  • Ian Hudson of Penguin Random House
  • Sam Husain of Foyles
  • Bob Jackson of Gardners
  • Dotti Irving of Four Colman Getty
  • Ursula Mackenzie of Little Brown UK
  • Nigel Newton of Bloomsbury
  • Stephen Page of Faber & Faber
  • Nigel Portwood of Oxford University Press
  • Ion Trewin of the Man Booker Prize Foundation
  • David Taylor of Ingram
  • Annette Thomas of Macmillan Science & Education
  • Tom Weldon of Penguin Random House
  • Tim Godfray of the Booksellers Association
But his observation on this special class is a good one: "One wonders how this current crop will fare in the eyes of future chroniclers."   And he had already pointed to one of the problems that dogs this list:
Last year, we used the opportunity to discuss the lack of diversity within this business—and gender bias at the top. As you might suspect, there has been little change in the past year. Women dominate the trade but they don’t dominate this list (34 out of the 100); executives with a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background have yet to break through at this level (four out of the 100).
  When we opened #FutureChat, in fact, asking "We're interested today in what strengths and issues you see with The Bookseller's Top 100," WME's Simon Trewin wasted no time in getting back to us: And a good point Trewin was making, too. Agents are represented in this year's list by folks including the evergreen Geller, of course; Darley Anderson (whose write-up mentions three women in the agency); Sam Edenborough of the Association of Authors' Agents; Geller's Curtis Brown associate Gordon Wise; and Neil Blair. Julia Kingsford of the Kingsford Campbell agency and Valobox joined responded: Which gave us a couple of charming red faces: In Kingston, Ontario, editor Carla Douglas had noticed the founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) on the list: And Stoneham Press' Tim Lewis pointed out that beyond Orna Ross' inclusion, the list simply isn't designed for most nontraditional channels -- it's focused on the trade. But I thought his "different industry" comment was interesting: Ricardo Fayet jumped in to add his congratulations to ALLi's Ross: And a question arrived about the WoMentoring Project: Someone on the Reedsy account was interested in how The Bookseller 100 is chosen: I cleverly referred them to my colleague Tom Tivnan, our features and insight editor at The Bookseller, who drives the project so effectively. And suddenly the discussion among our FutureBook digital publishing community members took a sharp turn toward the EU's VAT changes coming with the new year. What were folks saying? A smattering: I noted that we might want to schedule a #FutureChat soon on the VAT topic, especially a some details (hopefully) become clearer about the impact these changes may have on various elements of the industry. And meanwhile, we had a nomination for a future 100 listing: And Ross caught up with us (her ears may have been burning from the compliments during #FutureChat): And in his column, Jones helped parse the challenges ahead for the leadership enumerated in The Bookseller 100:
It has been a so-so year for the trade: bookshops feel better, in part because digital has slowed; the corporates have got bigger, but notable indies such as Constable & Robinson and Quercus have stumbled. There is a constant hum of discontent among authors and agents about digital royalty rates, while self-publishing has demonstrated the advantages that exist outside the traditional route. Libraries (both school and public) remain unattended to by a government that is obsessed with cuts—or as Russell Brand put it this week, one driven by a ”fundamentalist philosophy of profit”. And there is a younger generation, whose fingers are as used to gliding across screens as they are with turning pages.
Cheer them now and watch them closely. There's much to be tackled in 2015.
  Join us on Friday for the next #FutureChat when we expect to discuss the inaugural release of The Bookseller's new Independent Author Previews. As usual, we'll be live at 4 p.m. London (GMT), 5 p.m. Rome, 11 a.m. New York, 8 a.m. Los Angeles. Main image - Shutterstock: Goku4501