Generational shift in Bookseller 100

Generational shift in Bookseller 100

Each year of The Bookseller 100—our annual list of the main movers and shakers in the book trade—has its fresh faces. Inevitable, as the industry has its share of comings and goings.

Yet something is afoot in 2015. For the first time in the seven years of the 100 there is a marked generational shift. There are 24 New Entries in the list this year, and most of them represent a new breed of publishing, book trade veterans who more or less came of age in the time of the e-book. Publishing’s digital natives, if you will. In fact, two of them—Transworld publishing director Sarah Adams, and Waterstones head of range and children’s Melissa Cox—appreared on recent Bookseller Rising Stars lists, our annual look at industry “young guns”.

This is not necessarily an age thing, but perhaps a shift in attitude or a different way of looking at the business. Dominic Smales, for example, started Gleam Futures as a management company for vloggers in 2010 when hardly anyone thought that there was money in YouTubing. Fast-forward a few years and Smales has inked multimillion-pound deals for his 30 clients, including Zoella, Alfie Deyes and Joe Sugg.

Claire Law, who as m.d. of publishing recruitment company Atwood Tate knows a thing or two about what it takes to succeed in the industry, thinks it is publishing such YouTubers that has partially led to the generational shift.

Law said: “We have some interesting new faces appearing, with high-profile vloggers such as Zoella crossing into book publishing. It’s a great time for new talent to emerge and doors are opening for people with less traditional publishing skills to enter the industry. Job roles in educational and STM publishing continue to evolve and are demanding new skills, which means we all need to ensure we keep up to speed with industry developments.”

Even entries who have been on the list before seem revitalised and refreshed owing to expanding businesses or new remits, such as Richard Johnson, who is growing Bonnier at an astonishing clip, and David Shelley, whose promotion marks a new era for Orion and Little, Brown.

Perhaps reflective of this generation game is that the 2015 edition of the 100 has a changing demographic. This year has the greatest number of women (41) and those from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background (six). Those figures are hardly ones we as an industry should be shouting from the rooftops about, as they are obviously not representative of the population at large—women, of course, make up more than half of the UK population (owing to a longer life span) and BAME citizens 12.9%—but we compile these lists not beholden to quotas, simply on merit. Perhaps the higher percentages are reflective of HR changes and diversity programmes in the industry which are at last allowing a wider range of people to break into the top jobs. Future Bookseller 100 lists will tell.

Yet experience counts, too. There are 21 Evergreens, who have been on every Bookseller 100 list. But these hardy perennials are hardly resting. In fact they are often among the most forward-thinking of the 100, even at the very top, given the amount of experimentation at Tom Weldon’s, Tim Hely Hutchinson’s, Charlie Redmayne’s and Anthony Forbes Watson’s respective companies.

Penguin Random House, as might be expected, leads the way in the 100 league table with 11 entries, while Hachette is in second place with seven. Both HarperCollins and Holtzbrinck/ Macmillan have four entries (including Collins Learning’s Colin Hughes and Springer Nature’s Annette Thomas), while Amazon/Audible has three positions. There are seven businesses with a brace on the list: Waterstones, W H Smith, Bloomsbury, Bonnier, Elsevier, the BBC and Curtis Brown.

There are seven people who make their living as an author, illustrator or both: our most ever. Ten publishers come from the academic and education sphere, another record. Retailer numbers have held steady for the second consecutive year (17), while trade publishers remain the strongest sector, with 40 entries, eight of whom are primarily involved in children’s publishing.

You can view The Bookseller 100 online here and see who was picked as The Bookseller's 101st - the person in the industry we think has stood out a bit more than the others on the 100 list - here.