Publishing Scotland tackles "challenging" report

<p>Controversy over the future structure of Scottish publishing continued to simmer at the annual conference of Publishing Scotland in Edinburgh yesterday (24th February). <br /><br />The conference came a week after <a href="../news/112816-row-breaks-out-in-scotland-over-publishing-report.html" target="_blank">a row erupted over the findings of the Scottish Government&rsquo;s Literature Working Group</a>. </p><p>Its keynote speech was given by Fiona Hyslop, Scotland&rsquo;s minister for culture and external affairs, who must now decide how to act on the LWG&rsquo;s findings. &ldquo;There is much in the report that is practical and realistic, but also some things that will be regarded as challenging,&rdquo; she told delegates. <br /><br />Hyslop added that the publishing industry needed to modernise. &ldquo;Publishing in Scotland cannot thrive on past reputation and experience alone&mdash;it must forge a positive future,&rdquo; she said. </p><p>But she also hinted that she was against overt interference in publishing. &ldquo;It is clear that much of the future of the industry lies with the industry itself.&rdquo;<br /><br />Hyslop said she was now seeking feedback on the report from Publishing Scotland and other organisations mentioned by the LWG, before outlining &ldquo;later in the year&rdquo; what aspects will be taken forward. <br /><br />Publishing Scotland chief executive Marion Sinclair used her conference address to defend the organisation in the wake of the report&rsquo;s suggestion that it should have its funding cut or be restructured under the direction of the Independent Publishers Guild. </p><p>&ldquo;Any organisation that receives public funding can expect to be challenged,&rdquo; she acknowledged. &ldquo;But Publishing Scotland belongs to its members, and they will ultimately decide where to take it.&rdquo;<br /><br />Conference delegates were largely critical of the LWG&rsquo;s proposals, and some suggested that Hyslop&mdash;who inherited the report from Scotland&rsquo;s previous culture minister&mdash;might now quietly bury its more controversial recommendations. But there was greater support for some of the report&rsquo;s other suggestions, including an overhaul of writers&rsquo; funding and more backing for live literature.<br /><br />Elsewhere at the conference, sessions tackled e-publishing strategies, marketing via social networking media and the Google Book Settlement, and Publishing Scotland announced the launch of a new digital development fund to help publishers with their electronic strategies. A session on book festivals meanwhile brought an announcement that Scotland&rsquo;s 34 festivals are to join forces to create a new network for author events, offering publishers a one-stop shop for organising tours. <br /><br />The conference also unveiled figures from Nielsen BookScan suggesting that Scotland outperformed the rest of the UK book market in 2009. Sales through the Total Consumer Market in Scotland totalled &pound;161m, up by 0.4% year-on-year&mdash;compared to a fall of 1.2% for the UK as a whole. Scotland accounted for around 9% of the UK TCM in 2009, its highest share since BookScan&rsquo;s records began.</p>