In-Person, Online: Edinburgh International Book Festival’s Business of Books

In News by Porter Anderson

Amid some 250 events in August’s hybrid edition of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, a group of programs welcomes industry players.

During the 2020 Edinburgh International Book Festival, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon engaged in a streamed conversation with author Bernardine Evaristo. Image: EIBF, Robin Mair

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Three Sessions for Publishing Professionals
Another in the gathering group of publishing-related events headed for at least partly physical presentation, the Edinburgh International Book Festival runs August 14 to 30 this year. Its primary public-facing program is expected to stage and/or stream at least 250 events, with the online events presented on a “pay what you can” basis.

Some 300 writers, artists, other influencers are expected to be involved, and bookings have opened this week. You’ll find information here on making bookings and on attending in-person events.

Almost 40 years old, the festival was entirely digital in the pandemic year 2020 and this year opens a new long-term partnership with the University of Edinburgh that gives the show a venue at the Edinburgh College of Art, with open-air as well as indoor spaces and broadcast studio capability.

You can see the full festival program here.

During the main programming, a set of three events have been included as a “Business of Books” strand aimed at publishing professionals, and that trio of books is titled “Amplifying Voices.”

Kate Seiler

Kate Seiler, the festival’s external affairs manager, is quoted, saying, “The Business of Books brings together publishers, publicists, booksellers, distributors, editors, literary agents, writers, illustrators, and arts professionals and our program of free events aims to challenge, inform and inspire.

“This year we welcome speakers from across the industry to explore some of the key issues facing publishing today.

“Everyone is welcome, from those just starting out in their career to the experienced professional, and we look forward to some lively discussions.”

The Business of Books: ‘Amplifying Voices’

Karine Polwart in conversation with Edinburgh International Book Festival director Nick Barley in the 2020 digital evocation of the show. Image: EIBF, Robin Mair

Here are the three sessions in the “Amplifying Voice” strand, with links to registration information.

A Scottish Publisher Showcase
August 17 (90 minutes)
Both in-person and streamed online
11 a.m. BST / 1000 GMT / 12 p.m. CEST / 6 a.m. ET

This program is produced in cooperation with Publishing Scotland, and is centered around the presence of more than 100 publishers in Scotland, some well-established and some quite new to the scene. Sally Magnusson, a broadcaster, will chair the event, which will feature graphic novels, children’s literature and YA, as well as literature in translation.

The showcase is a hybrid session, both streamed and set in its physical component held in at the College of Art’s sculpture court. An author Q&A is included in this program.

Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing: Lasting Change
August 19 (75 minutes)
10 a.m. BST / 0900 GMT / 11 a.m. CEST / 5 a.m. ET

Speakers in this session include:

  • Margaret Busby of Allison & Busby
  • Crystal Mahey-Morgan of Own It
  • Samantha Williams of BookLove
  • Ellah P. Wakatama of Canongate and the Caine Prize for African Writing

A part of this conversation, as its title suggests, will feature the 2020 Rethinking Diversity report written by Anamik Saha and presented in partnership with the Society of Young Publishers Scotland. The report questioned how cultural production in the United Kingdom might disadvantage writers of color and reflects many of the tenets of discussion in the field familiar to our readers from the Publishers Association’s strong work in examining and promoting diversity and inclusivity in the trade.

You can find more about Saha’s Rethinking Diversity report here in its publication with a foreword by Bernardine Evaristo. A download of the report as a PDF is here. One of the strongest elements of this report, you’ll find, is its focus on how the publishing establishment thinks of a readership of color, one of the most persistently challenging elements of the debate that needs a rethinking.

Opening Up Books: Creating Book Events for People With Learning Disabilities
August 19 (75 minutes)
2 p.m. BST / 1300 GMT / 3 p.m. CEST / 9 a.m. ET

Speakers in this session on the accessibility issue include author Alexandra Strick and illustrator Steve Antony. At issue are best practices in a survey of ‘how authors, publishers and arts organizations can make their work more accessible to this audience, as well as involving them in artistic creation.”

An Additional Session on Cover Design

Val McDermid talks with Dame Joen Blakewell in a studio for the digital edition of the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2020. Image: EIBF, Robin Mair

Also of potential interest to publishing professionals, a program called Cover Design Masterclass: Judging a Book By Its Cover is available.
August 27
11 a.m. BST / 1000 GMT / 12 p.m. CEST / 6 a.m. ET

In this cover design masterclass, The Guardian‘s Alison Flood talks with creative directors Donna Payne (Faber & Faber) and Suzanne Dean (VINTAGE), as well as Waterstones Scottish buying manager Angie Crawford (Waterstones) on issues in cover design and what makes a compelling and successful approach.

Full information on the Business of Books and “Amplifying Voices” programming at the Edinburgh International Book Festival is here.

More from Publishing Perspectives on book fairs, festivals, and trade shows is here. More from us on the Scottish market is here, more on Publishing Scotland is here, and more on diversity and inclusivity issues in publishing is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.