People who understand technology, people with passion, and entrepreneurs were some of the answers given by panellists to the question: “What kind of people do publishers need?” in a debate at LBF yesterday (16th April). Organised by the Publishers Association, the seminar took in issues of diversity, internships, and the changing role of technology.
Although all agreed that being able to work with technology was valuable, Faber c.e.o. and publisher Stephen Page said that people had to be able to apply their knowledge to the business.
He said: “It’s not that we need a lot of programmers in publishing, it’s that we need people who understand what can be done with those skills. We don’t just have to make products, we are also creating services for writers and readers, and people need the vision to judge what will come next.”
Dominic Mahoney, group HR director at Hachette, added “We need people with the mind-set to develop what people will be reading,” and that it applied to all aspects of the business, including editorial, marketing and production.
He also encouraged entrepreneurs to tackle publishing. He said: “It’s a fundamentally entrepreneurial business—each book is a new product entering the marketplace. People have to be ambitious, they need that spirit to succeed.”
Questions from the floor asked how publishers could open access to people from different backgrounds. Natalie Jerome, publishing director at HarperCollins, said: “I think we have seen the culture change very positively in the past few years [but] it’s not an issue we can ignore.”