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Knowledgespeak Exclusive: An interview with Jacks Thomas, Director, The London Book Fair - 27 Mar 2014

Q

Knowledgespeak: Can you briefly talk about the forthcoming London Book Fair. Please share with us any interesting events / trends that you expect to see this year.

A

Jacks Thomas: The 43rd Fair has new dates for 2014 – taking place from Tuesday 8-Thursday 10 April 2014, This Fair will start on a Tuesday, rather than starting on a Monday, as it has done in recent years, which means our Publishing for Digital Minds Conference will now take place on the Monday before the Fair.

The academic, STM and professional sector is at the forefront of the industry’s ongoing digital revolution and new for 2014 is The Faculty @ LBF, a brand new academic theatre which will feature in LBF’s Academic & Scholarly zone. The aim is to provide a forum for the academic community to share and discuss issues relevant to the sector, through a programme of session topics covering academic, scientific and professional themes.

We are also launching Gaming @ LBF, a new pavilion, supported by UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie), the UK’s premier trade body representing the gaming industry, which is designed to connect the creative and commercial talents of gaming developers, publishers and distributors with their publishing counterparts. The initiative is one of several new areas (TV & Film, Brand Licensing and Comics) that capitalise on the continued convergence between aligned creative industries to exploit IP across a multiplicity of platforms.

We know from talking to our education and trade publishing exhibitors, as well as many games publishers, that there is still untapped potential in greater collaboration between these two complementary, creative worlds. Through this partnership with Ukie, and through offering a matchmaking service, we hope to enable even better communication between the two industries to deliver creative achievement and business success for all.

This year there will be over 250 free-to-attend events in LBF’s "Insights" seminar programme, covering a diverse range of topics, and I would highly recommend visitors attend some of these sessions. The Future of Copyright and Licensing: A Global Conversation will see Tracey Armstrong, President and CEO, Copyright Clearance Center and Richard Hooper, UK Copyright Hub Chairman, discuss the latest on copyright and licensing around the world, with Richard Mollet, CEO, The Publishers Association (09 Apr 2014, 13:00 - 14:00, Conference Centre) especially deserves a mention - it’s a perennially important topic.


Q

Knowledgespeak: This year again, the LBF is collaborating with the International Publishers Association (IPA) for the second edition of What Works? Successful Education Policies, Resources and Technologies. Could you tell our readers more about this event highlighting key issues that will be debated?

A

Jacks Thomas: What Works? is on Thursday 10 April in the Conference Centre, and again programmed by the IPA and, this year, in association with The Publishers Association. It will provide an open-minded look at educational outcomes with top-level policy makers from government, international agencies and major organisations. They will debate how technology, policy and content may be most effectively applied to raise educational standards, based on current global trends and practical experience from wide-scale projects. There will be expert input from countries including the United States, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Korea, The Netherlands, Turkey and the UK. The two keynote speakers are:

Francis Gurry, Director General, World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) - who will explore the interaction between copyright and education in the 21st century

Pablo Zoido, Analyst, The PISA Team, Directorate for Education, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) - examining the implications of the latest PISA scores

Education is a hugely important sector in the book industry, and at the forefront of digital innovation – we are very pleased and proud to host this conference once again.


Q

Knowledgespeak: The Publishing For Digital Minds Conference has become a must-attend precursor to the Fair. Can you briefly tell us about this conference? What are the key topics that this conference will focus on?

A

Jacks Thomas: Thank you! The conference is now in its sixth year I am really excited by this year's line-up of speakers. Anthony Horowitz, one of the most prolific and accomplished multi-disciplinary writers working today, will deliver the Author Keynote and I am equally looking forward to hearing Baroness Martha Lane Fox, the UK Digital Champion, co-founder of lastminute.com to the conference, in conversation with conference Chair Anna Rafferty.

The Publishing for Digital Minds Conference - New Paradigms, Partners and Platforms will reflect a publishing industry that is not standing still, and whose commercial and creative vigour is increasingly driven by experiments with new business models and innovation in the creation, production and distribution of IP. It will explore how the possibilities thrown up by digital technologies now permeate every aspect of the publishing process, from crowdfunding and the rise of 'hybrid' authors to content marketing for eBooks.

Among the speakers confirmed for the 2014 edition are Dominique Raccah, CEO of Sourcebooks and tireless advocate for the application of the 'agile' principle to publishing, who will appear in a new 'Question Time' session for industry thought leaders. Bill Thompson, the veteran technology journalist and head of partnership development at the BBC Archive will deliver a keynote speech and the BBC Director of Children's, Joe Godwin will participate in a discussion on the whys and wherefores of targeting child and YA audiences online. Meanwhile the growing power and influence of 'hybrid' authors will be represented by Hugh Howey, who will talk about his experience of being a simultaneously conventionally published and self-published bestseller for his Wool trilogy.

It is also a conference ideally placed to showcase publishing's successes as a global industry and this will be reflected with speakers in the programme, which includes Kim Seok-hwan, CEO of Yes24 Korea, the largest book retailing site in Market Focus country Korea, Dai Qin, Senior Director Douban Read, the Chinese-language book recommendation social network and Sergey Anurievs, CEO of LitRes, Russia's leading eBook retailer, who will comment on the Russian market.


Q

Knowledgespeak: Any particular reason behind selecting Korea as the market focus this year?

A

Jacks Thomas: The Market Focus programme was first created in 2004 for LBF to draw attention to certain countries and highlight the trade links with this territory, its publishing industry and the opportunities for conducting business with the rest of the world and, as an international trade fair, it is important that we showcase new markets and provide opportunities for UK and international publishers to liaise with their foreign counterparts, and seek out and capitalise on new business partnerships.

In putting together the Market Focus programme, The London Book Fair, and our Market Focus partners, The Publishers Association and The British Council, always work with the host country/organisation and consult with many bodies including official partners, industry professionals, and experts in the field.

Korea is an endlessly fascinating country – and the most wired in the world! Its publishing industry ranks in the top 10 worldwide and it is doing more business internationally than ever before; across all publishing sectors but with a great emphasis on education. The Market Focus Professional Programme at LBF will provide a unique opportunity to hear from the people shaping Korean publishing; from the biggest publishers to Korea's leading online book retailer. The programme is a key part of the Market Focus and we encourage anyone looking to learn more about Korea and increase business with Korean publishers to come to the seminars.

As in past years, the Market Focus professional programme will be supported by an exciting series of cultural events across the UK, both within the book fair and outside, featuring visiting Korean authors, curated by the British Council, the UK's leading cultural relations organisation. This associated cultural programme, which runs in partnership between The London Book Fair and the British Council, will place a spotlight on contemporary Korean authors and literature, and give audiences a wonderful opportunity to experience just a little of Korea's thriving literary scene. I was lucky enough to visit Seoul this year and met with publishers, writers and agents and loved every minute of my trip and the books I read by Korean writers and about Korea before, during and after my visit. Checking out the Korea Pavilion at the Book Fair will be time well spent.


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