Just How Big is The Frankfurt Book Fair?!

Tommi and Laura at Frankfurt Book Fair 2017

Every year we attend the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, which we’ve mentioned in numerous blog posts in the past. The book fair always follows the same format with meetings often with the same people and in the same regular time-slots. It often feels like déjà vu and all that changes each year is the books we present and everyone looking slightly older than last year! Even the halls look exactly as the year before, as publishers usually take the same stands in the same halls.

One thing that we always struggle to do is describe to people who’ve never attended the fair exactly what these halls are like and just how big and busy the fair is. In numbers, the fair welcomes over 7,000 publishers and over a quarter of a million visitors, but it’s hard even from those figures to quite grasp its size. Only when you are hurrying from meeting to meeting down aisles and aisles of stands do you really get a feel for it!

This year we had the brainwave of making a video to show the sheer scale of the fair to those who’ve never attended. Tommi and I spent every spare moment between meetings and the quieter weekend days filming the aisles of the book fair to try and capture what it is like. We reckon that we walked over 15km within the fair and edited nearly 3 hours of footage to create a snapshot of it! If you’re interested, the resultant video can be found on our YouTube channel here.

Laura

Behind the Scenes… What Happens to an Accepted Manuscript?

Once a manuscript has undergone external peer review, been suitably revised by the author and is approved for publication by the series editors (where relevant), it is accepted for publication. We then ask the author to complete an author questionnaire and checklist and start to get the manuscript moving towards production. But what are we doing exactly? In this post, Laura outlines the small but vital stages between editorial and production.

Commissioning Editors with books from their respective series

The first thing a Commissioning Editor does is book a slot on our production schedule. Each month we publish a certain number of books, typically between 4 and 6, so there are a limited number of places available. The Commissioning Editor will most likely have already provisionally pencilled in the manuscript well in advance of it being accepted, using their knowledge about the extent of the revisions required and how busy the author and series editors’ schedules are. But it is only now that a publication date is set and finalised. At this point it is therefore extremely helpful to us if authors keep to deadlines they have promised!

Once the Commissioning Editor has received all the final files and supporting documents, they will check through the manuscript one last time. They ensure that the author has submitted all the documents (table of contents, each chapter, references, appendices etc) and confirm that permission has been cleared for all material from external sources. They will then update the book’s proposal P&L with the latest word count, as we use this to estimate the pagination and price.

The book is then ready for the Commissioning Editor to schedule for discussion at the next in-house editorial meeting, usually held weekly. For those of us not involved in the book until this stage, this might be the first we’ve heard of it since the proposal was accepted, often some years previously! At the meeting we discuss and approve the title; make a final decision about the format (whether it will be published in paperback and hardback simultaneously) and approximate the print run.

With all of the above finalised, the Commissioning Editor is now ready to hand the book over for production and marketing. In order to make the handover process a smooth one and to help impart as much of their knowledge about the work to the rest of us as possible, they complete a handover sheet. The handover sheet splits naturally into three sections: key details about the work, then a production section, followed by marketing information.

The key details section is where we store absolute final information about the book, mainly what we decided on at the editorial meeting. It is where we look if we cannot remember whether we did decide to remove a comma from a title or exactly which subtitle we eventually chose! It is therefore like gold dust as it is vital that we are consistent, once we have made a decision: as soon as data starts to leave our database, it is sometime hard to find where it has gone and overwrite it.

Sarah, our Production Manager, hard at work

Next comes the production section where the Commissioning Editor will tell Sarah, our Production Manager, and Flo, who does the covers, information about the book. Sections include whether there is a preference for British or another variety of English; if the author already has a particular idea for the cover and if we have agreed anything special with the author, perhaps with regard to the layout or format. We also tell Sarah about what she might expect when working with the author. This includes things such as if one is taking the lead (in the case of multiple authors) or whether we know the author is about to go on leave. This is important as production runs to deadlines which are much firmer than those in editorial often are.

Finally comes the marketing parts of the handover. The Commissioning Editor writes the blurbs, suggests subject categories and says who to approach for cover endorsements. They will also advise the marketing department on the book’s highlights; note any geographical contexts featured in the book (which might be helpful for our local sales reps); list which of our other books it links with and state any other key selling points of the work. They will also let us know any bright ideas they have for any special, out-of-the-ordinary marketing!

We find that handing a manuscript over in this way works really well. Ultimately, the Commissioning Editor is the person in the office who knows most about the book and the more of their knowledge they can share with the rest of us, the more likely we are to have a smooth, enjoyable and successful publication.

Laura

6th International Conference on Multicultural Discourses

Next year, the 6th International Conference on Multicultural Discourses is due to take place. Multilingual Matters is sponsoring the conference, specifically in order to enable two early career researchers from developing countries to attend it. This post is written by Massimiliano Spotti, the Conference Host and Co-organizer.

In October 2018, the International Conference on Multicultural Discourses sets its foot in Europe for the first time. To be more precise at Babylon – Centre for the Study of Superdiversity, at Tilburg University. Together with Jan Blommaert (Director of Babylon) and Shi-xu, Founder of Cultural Discourse Studies (CDS) and founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Multicultural Discourses (JMD), I reflect on the developments of this field ten years down the line.

In introducing this conference and its landing in Europe, I think we should start from the body of scholarship that has characterized CDS’ very first days. The first goal of CDS was (and still is) to draw attention to the cultural nature of human discourse and communication. As one of the first issues of its Journal stated, the purpose was to consciously and critically consider issues of cultural diversity and Western-centrism across arenas such as politics, academia, education and public discourses. To be honest, what struck me the most when publishing there one of my first peer-reviewed articles on teachers teaching to migrants, was a permeating feeling of voicing the unheard, the left-out, those in short that were for one reason or another in a minority position.

Although chased by the continuous pressure of the increasingly complex nature exerted on human encounters and discourses by globalization in both society and academia, CDS has remained able to keep its word. It has set forth on exploring the implications of discrimination through power on policy and human interactions, becoming an outstanding outlet for both Western and non-Western scholars to fight back and either re-discover or aspire to and, through that, reclaim their voices and academic identities within an established research paradigm.

There is still much more to do though. The increased entanglement of discourses across the global North and the global South; the unexpected results of their (often) unplanned points of intersection; the new centers of coagulation that these processes of entanglement bring to bear; the production of culturally rooted discourses around them. These are all emergent phenomena and urgent attention is needed there.

Ultimately, this is what we hope to do in the 6th International Conference on Multicultural Discourses. That is to contend – once again – that culture is not just a different and thus innocent perspective in knowledge forming and value giving to people and their doings. Rather, our hope and wish for this conference is that it will allow us to unveil another layer of those historically evolving sets of discourses, rules and actions that put some people in power while others are marginalized.

You can find out more about the conference on its website here.

Publishing FAQs: All your conference questions answered!

This time of year is always a busy period for conferences and 2017 has been no different, with Flo at BAAL, Sarah at the Visitor Economy conference and me at EuroSLA last week. Along with selling the books, conferences are a great opportunity for us to speak with delegates. Of course, most conversations centre around the content of the books and vary depending on what we have with us. But you’d probably be surprised at how frequently we are asked some particular questions, and sometimes we are surprised that people even ask them! Here are a selection of our favourites:

Sarah at a Channel View conference

How do you choose which conferences you attend?

Firstly, we look at the theme of a conference, the size of it (big isn’t always better) and who has recommended it or told us they’ll be attending. We then look at whether it is affordable and decide whether to attend in person or send a display. Finally, we check our travel schedule and agree who will go where. As conferences often fall at roughly the same time and sometimes, to our frustration, even clash with each other, they take a considerable amount of logistical planning. Funny as it sounds, as well as coordinating ourselves, we also have to make sure that things such as tablecloths are in the right places with the right people!

How do you decide which books to bring?

Once we have decided to be involved in a conference, as Marketing Manager, it is my job to sort out all the details. I look at the programme and decide which of our recent books are relevant and which of our authors are attending. It is often a real challenge to cut a list of perhaps 100 books down to a reasonable number that will fit on a single table! But having to cut down a long list of books that we’re keen to show off is not a bad position to be in.

How many copies do you bring of each book?

This is another source of much umming and ahhing! I come up with a figure by combining information about how popular a book has been at previous conferences and its sales in general, with how relevant it is to the themes of a conference and whether the author will be there to promote their book. It is not the most scientific of processes but, having been to many conferences, I have a good feeling for what is about right. I’ll then check the list with whoever is attending the conference and they’ll make further suggestions or amendments.

Laura with a stack of empty boxes after the AAAL conference

Did you bring the books here in your suitcase?

No! This always makes us laugh because the books are really heavy and usually fill several big boxes!  Except in exceptional circumstances, such as when we are going by car, the books are delivered straight from our warehouse to the conference.

Why is my book not here?

We do our best to bring authors’ books to conferences if they have forewarned us that they’ll be there. If we haven’t got your book, it might be because it is slightly older and we have to give preference on the stand to newer books. My favourite response to this question is that if it’s too old to have made the cut, it might be time for you to think about writing us a new one to bring!

Can you ship the book to me for free?

If we have sold out and there is no copy for you to take, then yes, we will gladly send you a copy with free shipping. This is a sign that I didn’t get the numbers quite right and should have brought more so that you can take one. But if there is a copy on the table and you want it shipped, we do ask that you pay the shipping. It makes sense really: we will have paid to have the book shipped to the conference, will then pay to have the booked shipped back to the warehouse and then pay again to ship the book to your home. If we did all that shipping, the costs would soon add up to way more than the price at which we sell the book. So, in order to continue to offer the books at a special conference discount, we cannot also offer free shipping.

Why are your books so much cheaper here?

You’re buying directly from us, so we don’t have to give a cut to any booksellers or wholesalers who might otherwise be involved in the book selling chain. We don’t expect to make a profit through book sales at a conference; conferences have an immeasurable value for us in terms of meeting people; showing our books to a new audience and keeping up with trends in the field. The price we charge is therefore as cheap as we can afford to sell it at, with a small contribution to the cost of attending conferences.

Do you get to go to the sessions?

Yes, sometimes, especially if there are two of us and one can man the stand while the other goes to a talk. We are also usually able to attend the plenaries as most other delegates will do so too and thus these are quiet periods at the stand. At other times, delegates may make the most of a session when there is no paper of interest to them to browse the books and chat with us. This is often much easier done when we are quiet than during the rush of the coffee or lunch break and we’re usually glad of the company!

What do you do when it’s quiet?

If we’ve just had a busy coffee break then we’re usually glad to have a moment to sit down! If there’s no-one browsing books and no session we want to attend, then we might tidy the stand, check emails and social media or catch up with the other publishers. And of course, if it’s really quiet, we have plenty of reading material in front of us!

Anna, Tommi and Laura at a conference

What makes a good conference?

We’ve had fun reminiscing about previous conferences and come up with the following that may combine to make a really good conference from a publishing perspective: excellent speakers whose presentations spark interesting conversations and discussions; a well-organised committee and host venue; being close to the refreshments (not only because we enjoy them, but because this is where delegates tend to congregate); a location that will attract many attendees and is easy to get to; a well-thought-out schedule that isn’t overcrowded and runs to time; plenty of table space so we can spread out our books; double-sided name tags with large print and, even though it’s out of everyone’s control, rain! A wet conference means that delegates are more likely to spend the time between sessions browsing books than out enjoying the host city!

Do you have a book on x-y-z?

We can’t promise to know all our books inside out but we’ll do our best to help you find what you’re looking for. And if neither you nor we can find it, then that’s probably a good sign that you have pointed out a gap in the market! Why not talk to us about writing for us?

Where are the toilets? Is this the registration desk? Can I put my coat under your table? Can I leave my child with you? Do you have a USB stick I can borrow? Can I check a reference in a book?

These and many others are frequently asked and we’re always willing to answer and help out where we can, even if it’s just sending someone in the right direction. Sometimes it’s from the small interactions that the greater conversations begin.

We’re busy making plans for 2018 and hope to see you at a conference somewhere soon!

Laura

Disciplinary Knowledge from the Lab to the Courtroom

This month, we published Connecting Language and Disciplinary Knowledge in English for Specific Purposes by Alissa J. Hartig. In this post, Alissa introduces the themes of her book and tells us where her interest in English for Specific Purposes developed from.

Nanophysics probably seems like a strange starting point for working with legal discourse, but it was a group of nanophysicists who first got me interested in English for Specific Purposes. I had been teaching at a university in Korea when one of my students asked if I might be interested in developing a course on science writing for his labmates. Over the next few months, I learned more about piezoelectricity and perovskite than I ever would have guessed. Most of my work with this group was at the end of their writing process, though, and while I got a good sense of the grammatical constraints of these kinds of terms, I never really got to learn much about how these students developed their research questions in the first place or how they went about their work in the lab.

A few years later, when I started working with international Master of Laws students at a law school in the US, my experience was quite different. At the law school, I followed students throughout their entire introduction to common law argumentation, research, and writing. This offered me an opportunity that I didn’t have with the nanophysics lab. While I became familiar with similar kinds of specialized terms, like parol evidence and punitive damages, I also started to notice a different category of disciplinary concepts that played an important role in students’ reading and writing.

These weren’t the kinds of terms that you would typically find on a legal vocabulary list, though. This new category of disciplinary concepts was built into the discourse itself. Both word-level conventions, like the use of tense, and discourse-level conventions, like the inclusion of particular genre moves, could both be traced back to these discourse-structuring concepts. More importantly, students who could connect these discourse-structuring concepts to the ways they were being asked to read and write were more successful in working with legal genres. This wasn’t just a matter of being able to define these concepts or use them correctly in a sentence. Most students could do that without any trouble. The more difficult part was looking at legal texts using these concepts as a lens.

Connecting Language and Disciplinary Knowledge in English for Specific Purposes follows four international law students as they grapple with these discourse-structuring concepts, looking at how both their writing and interactions in tutoring and classroom sessions reflect changes in their understanding over the course of a semester. The book also offers one approach to integrating these discourse-structuring concepts into the ESP classroom. Whether your students are working with parol evidence or perovskite, I hope that readers with an interest in the learning of specialized discourse will gain a new perspective on integrating language and content.

Alissa J. Hartig, Portland State University

ahartig@pdx.edu

For more information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Providing Health Care in the Context of Language Barriers edited by Elizabeth A. Jacobs and Lisa C. Diamond.

Small Yet International: Our Books Travel the World

We describe ourselves as a small, international, independent academic publisher. Being small, it may seem like also being international would be very difficult. In fact, for us that’s certainly not the case. As you can read in previous blog posts, our authors come from right around the world. In fact since that post was written in 2011 the list of countries our authors come from has continued to grow and in this year alone we have published books based on research in countries and regions as diverse as the Arctic, Bosnia and China (and could probably make a good stab at completing the rest of the alphabet too!).

We travel a lot and ensure that our books are seen by people all over the world. Our conference and travel schedules are always packed and we make an effort to attend not only big conferences but also smaller, local ones where we can. We do our best to make our books both accessible and affordable to anyone interested in them and this is reflected in our sales figures. We thought it might be interesting to share information about the international reach of our print books with our blog readers.

Last year, our books made it straight from our warehouse to 74 countries of the world, and possibly even more as we cannot trace what happens to books which go through our two biggest UK customers, the wholesalers Gardners and Bertrams. Because of the size of these wholesalers the top 10 countries list is a little skewed as we know that, while the UK is at the top, this is not because our books are being picked up by many readers in Britain but rather, they are being sold on to bookshops around the globe. The same goes for our North American sales, but to a slightly lesser extent. With that in mind, this chart shows the top ten countries, in terms of the number of individual books bought from us over the past 12 months.

Top 10 countries (units sold)
Top 10 countries (units sold)

In part this list reflects the hard work of our reps who promote our titles to their local customers. We have reps working in our bigger markets, such as China and Japan, as well as covering smaller nations such as those of the Caribbean. We meet with our reps at least annually at the Frankfurt Book Fair and make occasional visits to see them in their territories. You can read more about the work of our reps in a post written by Andrew White who represents us in Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan.

For customers for whom a print book is too expensive or difficult to obtain, we ensure that the option of purchasing an ebook is a possibility. All our new titles are published simultaneously as consumer ebooks and always at a much lower price. We have put a big effort into making our back catalogue also available as ebooks and are always happy to take requests if there is something that a reader wants that isn’t yet online – just send us an email and we’ll do our best to arrange it.

Laura

The Debate on Brexit and the Potential Impact on Academic Publishing

Alongside the meetings and stalls at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which Tommi and I attended last week, there were also talks and discussions on topics of general interest to publishers. One that caught our eye on the Publishing Perspectives stage was entitled “Debate on Brexit and the Potential Impact on Academic Publishing” and I went along to hear the discussion. The panel comprised Richard Fisher, an academic policy correspondent, Richard Mollet from the RELX group and Andy Robinson from the publisher Wiley.

The general feeling among academic publishers is that the UK’s vote to leave the European Union is troubling and of great concern so the panel began with the discussants being asked if it is all doom and gloom as we suspect, or if there are in fact some silver linings to the situation. The panellists managed to come up with 4 positives, such as the short term currency gains which publishers with high exports are enjoying, potential beneficial changes in VAT laws, a renewed focus on emerging markets and UK research possibly being able to reposition and rebuild itself – particularly in some areas of science research, such as clinical trials, where the UK’s formerly strong output has fallen apart. We were also reminded that there were pockets of support for Brexit among some UK academics and that we need to respond to and work for the 52% who voted for the UK to leave the EU.

The panel on the Publishing Perspectives stage
The panel on the Publishing Perspectives stage

The above positives aside, the discussants identified several major concerns of Brexit for the publishing industry which were grouped into 3 main areas: people, funding and regulations.

The UK publishing workforce has a higher than national average percentage of workers from abroad and we do not know what the implications of Brexit will be for employment. The same goes for researchers at UK institutions and EU students, who bring growth for our economy as well as numerous other societal benefits. The panel mentioned anecdotal evidence of academics now refusing positions at UK universities and UK academics being taken off grant applications or side-lined within existing projects. Furthermore, the UK will now be relegated to the position of an observer rather than a participant on discussions around matters such as Open Access in academia.

Regarding the concern of funding, the panel felt that the sector needs to make a clear case to the government for research funding to be maintained and provided, especially as the terms of Brexit are negotiated and we are in a state of flux. Universities shouldn’t resort to pleading and requesting a special case, but rather they need to stress to the government the importance of the industry to our society and economy.

Finally, on the topic of regulation, the conversation moved to areas such as copyright law, data protection and medical trials, all of which are currently governed to some extent by EU law but which need not be in the future. We were reminded that the UK has traditionally had a good research reputation but, where Britain now goes the world won’t follow. Our decreased voice on topics of international concern is troubling.

The session was wrapped up with an optimistic view that British publishing is international in scope and outlook and that that is unlikely to change, especially in the humanities where relations are as much transatlantic and global as they are European. Brexit will no doubt have an impact on the industry but perhaps not as much as other concerns of 21st century publishing, such as mass piracy and green open access, but those are topics for discussion another time!

Laura

We’re Winners of an Award for Excellence!

Elinor and Laura celebrating our achievement
Elinor and Laura celebrating our achievement

We are delighted to announce that we have recently been awarded with a BIC Product Data Excellence Award. This is a book publishing industry award that denotes how well we submit information about our books to the book trade. Publishers are scored both on how complete their data is and the timeliness of its delivery to the industry.

While it may not seem like the most exciting of awards, it is actually very important. With good information book buyers find it much easier to discover and order books, which makes their job quicker and results in more book sales and greater reach for our authors’ work. The data required is extensive and ranges from the very obvious, such as title and price, to information such as the exact weight of an individual book.

We have spent many of our spare moments and long afternoons over the past year manually entering the data for very old titles into our database (and even doing things such as weighing books from the archive!), while also ensuring that all new titles meet very tight data deadlines. It has been a long and arduous process, fuelled by lots of tea and biscuits, but we are very happy that 99.93% of our books now have complete records (the missing 0.07% are sadly so old we don’t even have a print copy in our office archive) and we always easily hit the 80% timeliness quota.

There are over 750 publishers in the UK, so to be one of only 29 with an Excellence Award, and to be in the same category as household names such as Penguin is very satisfying (you can see the full list of publishers with awards here). We may only be a small publisher but we are proud to be ranked for data as highly as many big publishers and even better than many others. Needless to say, our ambitions haven’t stopped with Excellence and we’re already in discussions about what we can do to be promoted to the Excellence Plus top category!

Teaching Older Learners: Less Pandering, More Researching

This month we are publishing Danya Ramírez Gómez’s new book Language Teaching and the Older Adult: The Significance of Experience. In this post, she introduces us to her own experiences with language teaching and the inspiration for the book.

The first time I taught a language to a group of adults over 60 was more than six years ago. And it was a disaster. I had previously taught adults of other ages, and I thought I knew what to expect. However, during the lesson I realized that the material, my approach, and my way of reaching these students were inadequate. They were different and I was unable to engage them as I had envisioned. I tried to understand why; I blamed myself, the material, the weather and, lastly, the students: “Well, they are older”– I told myself. Fortunately, I soon realized that if all my students have a poor learning experience, it can’t be them, it must be me.

I looked for information and materials that could help me teach these learners better and found virtually nothing. It was then that I considered researching this topic and so I asked colleagues who worked with older learners whether they thought this useful. I received all sorts of responses, but most can be summarized by a colleague’s piece of advice. He said: “Talk to them like they were children.” That was the last straw.

Language Teaching and the Older AdultMy book, Language Teaching and the Older Adult: The Significance of Experience, is exploratory and comprehensive. Exploratory, because the literature on the topic is scarce, and comprehensive, because it touches a myriad of pertinent fields and thus provides an informed context in which to start a discussion about older learners. Also, the claims made in this book are based on a multi-method analysis that should appeal to researchers in foreign language learning, and since teachers will probably desire something more practical, the book includes recommendations and checklists that I hope will make lesson planning more manageable.

The experiences described at the start of this post generated one of the most relevant aims of this work: to question our assumptions about language learning in old age. We all hold these assumptions; teachers, learners, researchers, administrators, the laymen. But how can we advance in foreign language geragogy – as I have taken the liberty to call this field – if we are constrained by our beliefs? Questioning our assumptions is the first step to understanding older adults as students of foreign languages and enhancing their learning process.

When they hear what I research, many people ask me whether I like older adults. Well, not particularly. I like them as much as I like anybody else. What drove the creation of this book was more a sense of responsibility to the students – to which many teachers can probably relate – and the dread of facing more lessons without a clear idea of the effects of my decisions as an instructor. Besides that, what motivated me to focus on this issue was the idea that when I am in my silver years, I want to be able to learn French, I want to be unencumbered by excuses, and I would certainly want to be seen by my instructors as the capable adult I hope to be.

For more information about this book, please see our website. You may also be interested in another of our books on the topic Adult Learning in the Language Classroom by Stacey Margarita Johnson.

Multilingual Matters at the Sociolinguistics Symposium

Earlier this month Anna and I headed to Spain for the biennial Sociolinguistics Symposium which this year was hosted by the University of Murcia.  The last symposium was such a good conference (you can read about it in our blog post here) that this one had a lot to live up to, but it certainly delivered!

The gathering was very well attended and had a busy timetable of panels and sessions going on throughout the 4 days of the conference.  There were a high number of attendees from all over the world and we were pleased to sell books to delegates who had come from places as far flung as New Zealand, Cape Verde and Aruba!  It’s great to know that our books are reaching many corners of the earth and to meet the people working in such places.

Laura and Anna sporting conference caps and fans at the stand

The equation of Spain plus June certainly equals hot sunshine and we braved the soaring temperatures to set up our bookstand outside in the beautiful university courtyard.  We and the books survived the heat and were grateful to the conference organisers for thinking to include hats and fans in the conference bag! We thoroughly enjoyed tasting all the yummy refreshments provided during the breaks and sampling local tapas and drinks in the many squares of Murcia in the evening.

Book contributor and customer at the stand

The bestsellers at the stand included Jackie Jia Lou’s new monograph The Linguistic Landscape of Chinatown, the enduringly popular Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes by Jan Blommaert and Lid King and Lorna Carson’s new edited collection The Multilingual City.  As ever we enjoyed meeting lots and lots of our authors and contacts, including some whose first ever chapter we have just published.

One of the highlights of the conference was the dinner which was held in a typical Murcian restaurant in the heart of lemon and orange groves.  The local food and drink was delicious and the traditional Spanish dancing displays were great fun to watch.  The next Sociolinguistics Symposium is to be hosted by the University of Auckland in New Zealand and will be the first time that the conference will be held outside Europe.  Needless to say, we’re already looking forward to the next gathering in 2018!

Laura