Bonnier Publishing group chief executive Richard Johnson is to give the opening keynote at The Bookseller’s FutureBook Conference 2017. Addressing Bonnier Publishing’s rapid growth into a top four publisher, Johnson will speak alongside executives from HarperCollins, Bolinda, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Pan Macmillan and Hachette at the event.
The FutureBook Conference, which takes place on 1st December at 155 Bishopsgate in London, will comprise three different streams with the AudioBook Revolution and EdTech for Publishers Conferences running alongside the main FutureBook programme. Other speakers announced include Rebecca Herrmann, founder and co-c.e.o. of audiobook business Bolinda, who will keynote at AudioBook Revolution, and Edwin Scholte, global chief operating officer and chief financial officer at McGraw-Hill Education, who will speak at EdTech for Publishers, run in association with the EdTech Exchange.
Johnson will talk about how he has built Bonnier Publishing from a small children’s publisher into the UK’s fourth biggest trade publisher during a period of seismic change for the sector. Under Johnson, Bonnier Publishing launched new businesses such as Blink Publishing, Hot Key Books and Bonnier Zaffre and acquired Igloo Books, John Blake and the digital publisher Totally Entwined. Part of the £3bn Swedish Bonnier Group, the English-language publisher has also grown internationally with Bonnier Publishing USA in New York and San Francisco and Bonnier Publishing Australia in Melbourne. In 2016 its turnover surpassed £100m and it is now targeting annual sales of £200m by the end of 2019, having secured deals for authors such as Wilbur Smith, Lynda La Plante and Robbie Williams.
Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, said: “Bonnier Publishing has been one of the most fascinating publishing stories for sometime, but it is through its recent rights deals—not least the eight-figure multi-region deal for Smith—that we can see a true measure of the ambition.” Johnson, Scholte, and Herrmann are the first executive-level speakers to be announced in for FutureBook17, and demonstrate how the conference continues to grow its reach and impact, with last year’s show attracting more than 500 delegates.
The overall theme for FutureBook17 is “Don’t Delegate the Future”, with dedicated panels on virtual reality and artificial intelligence; the annual FutureBook Awards; and the prestigious BookTech showcase. Molly Flatt, associate editor of FutureBook and co-programmer of the conference, said the day would encourage delegates to think hard, speak up and come away with concrete actions for the dilemmas they will be facing today and tomorrow. “Whether you’re a publisher, bookseller, agent or author - you are the future, just as much as as a Palo Alto machine learning engineer or a Gen Z Insta-sleb. So feel the fear, nurture your excitement, and grab a ticket for FutureBook17.”