Cultural strategist Akua Agyemfra is announced as the third keynote for FutureBook Live 2019, following Waterstones m.d. James Daunt and Bookstat founder Paul Abbassi.
Focused on sport and entertainment Akua is the founder and director of bea.london, a strategy consultancy that works with Stormzy & #Merky Group (including #Merky Books, Stormzy Scholarship etc), Wretch 32, Spotify, NFL UK and more.
Akua's keynote will discuss “where brand meets purpose”, detailing how #Merky, the brand built by Stormzy, has developed its reach into books with Penguin Random House division, Cornerstone.
Agyemfra said: “I will discuss how we are entering the publishing space as radicals and trying to make the right noise to the right people. How to take control of your narrative and bring your community along with you for the ride. How to make a niche for yourself within institutions—where previously there was no room. I’m an example of taking a diverse skillset and principles from a completely different industry and making it work wherever you go."
Part of the “Seize the agenda” thread at the conference, the talk will be introduced by Crystal Mahey-Morgan, founder of OWN IT!, who has previously programmed Akala, Jamal Edwards, and Sophia Thakar for keynotes at FutureBook. Mahey-Morgan said: “The future growth of our industry—particularly when it comes to new audiences—relies on creative instinct, commercial savvy and true diversity of thought. Akua personifies all of these things in abundance. She’s a natural born creative entrepreneur who has moved fluidly from fashion/lifestyle (Adidas), high profile music brand management (Stormzy/Wretch 32) to publishing (Merky Books) and she seamlessly occupies many of these spaces at once. Akua is someone that the whole industry can learn a lot from and it’s exciting to know that she’s part of the future of books.”
Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, adds: “For publishing to thrive in the 21st century, it needs to reach out to new writers, and new audiences, but also be open to pioneers from other sectors to come in and re-write the rules, in this case with Stormzy and the #Merky Books imprint. Along with James Daunt and Paul Abbassi, Akua will provide a compelling rationale for how informed and inclusive publishing rises up.”
Now in its tenth year, FutureBook Live will be held on Monday 25th November, 155 Bishopsgate, London. This year's programme will be the most ambitious and far-reaching so far, with executives from Pearson, Hachette, Waterstones, Bonnier, Springer Nature, Faber, Booker, the BBC, Penguin Random House, Blackwell, and Lonely Planet, already confirmed as speakers.
A limited number of tickets are now available to buy at Early Bird rates until 11th October. There is also a 3 for 2 offer available on standard tickets.
The coveted FutureBook Awards are now open for submissions, including BookTech Company of the Year, Podcast of the Year, and the FutureBook Person of the Year, who will once again deliver the closing keynote. For writers, there is also an opportunity to submit to the audio originals competition, launched earlier this month.
As well as attending the conference, for the first time delegates can apply to attend Day of Code, a training event hosted by Consonance on 22nd November. Only 40 places are up for grabs, so book early to avoid disappointment.