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10 Takeaways from Trade Day 2021


Our ninth annual Trade Day took place virtually again on November 12th. The theme this year was “Reconnecting”  There was an impressive and engaging mix of expertise from some key players across the publishing spectrum. Speakers from home and abroad offered insights into what has been another strange year as we all grappled with what became the ‘new normal’.

First up was Fionnuala Barrett who oversees audio publishing at HarperCollins. Fionnuala outlined what the future might look like for this sector and explored the opportunities it might present for publishers of all sizes. 

Next was a gripping Panel covering the Challenges of the International Publishing Supply Chain.  Between Brexit, COVID, paper shortages, HGV driver shortages and ships getting stuck in canals, it’s been a challenging year for the international publishing supply chain! The Panel consisting of  Chair, Matthew Parkinson Bennett, Little Island, Louisa Cameron, Owner, Raven Books, John Manning, Distribution Director, Gill and Simon Rosenheim, Managing Director, Imago discussed what the future may hold for printing, distribution and wholesale, and retail.

Oliver Beldham of Nielsen took us on a data deep dive into a quite healthy looking Irish Book Market and gives us his thoughts on future trends for next year and beyond.

Lyndsey Fineran of Cheltenham Literature Festival related her experiences as Programme and Commissions Manager for the Cheltenham Literature Festival, with an emphasis on what Irish publishers can do to ensure they are well placed to secure participation in this and similar literary festivals.

Our Keynote Speaker at this year’s event was Alex Bowler, in a fascinating talk covering Alex’s rich and varied career.

In what were all fascinating conversations and talks it would be difficult to condense the wealth of information and experience expressed throughout Trade Day but we have tried to serve up 10 of the key takeaways from this year – 

  1. The last decade has seen exponential growth in the Audio Book market, and it looks set to stay strong! The trends are quite weighted towards digital listening (as opposed to Audio CD’s) with subscription-based intermediaries such as Audible, Google, Apple Books and Kobo.
  2. Audio most definitely does not detract from actual books. If anything, Fionnuala suggests they complement them and an audio release should be simultaneous with all other formats.
  3. Supply chain pressures are mounting. Both John Manning & Simon Rosenheim outlined some of the factors that are currently affecting the industry. These included energy rationing, rising costs, freight prices and paper shortages.
  4. Threats to the supply chain can come in various forms – from the instant gratification of Amazon Fulfilment Centres to Brexit. Louisa Cameron explained their issues with Brexit and the knock-on effects which can leave their customers waiting longer for orders.
  5. Covid appears to be a double-edged sword for the publishing industry. On one hand, figures from Nielsen suggest that lockdown wasn’t all that bad with growth across the board, in Adult Fiction in particular and perhaps unsurprisingly, Self-Improvement and Personal Development topics. At the other end, Louisa from Raven Books saw delays of up to three weeks for shipments from the United States.
  6. Oliver Beldham gave us a lot of good news on the sales front. His stats proved that there is a lot to be positive about in the publishing market with almost every genre on the rise. It seems lockdown wasn’t a completely bad thing and 2021 is sizing up to be a record-breaking year for book sales. (The only bit of bad news from Nielsen was the decline of Irish published Fiction in the charts, with many books coming in from UK publishers). 
  7. Cheltenham is the oldest Literary Festival in the world! Lindsey Fineran took us on a journey through their last two wildly different Festivals incorporating a mix of live and online and introduced their new theme “Read The World” which featured Irish familiars The Lilliput Press and New Island.
  8. Ruth Hallinan of Lilliput Press helped lift the lid on the magic behind the programming process of such a literary behemoth, which boasts a media reach of 123 million, asking Lindsey how more Irish publishers can get involved. Lindsey, aware of the long lead-in times involved, highlighted the importance of having something to read or refer to, be it a proof, an arc or even a proposed line up with a specific dynamic. 

We have sent recordings and powerpoints to all those who attended please reach out if you haven’t received this.

We greatly appreciate your feedback on the day if you attended can you complete our feedback survey

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