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

Summer conference travel – EUROSLA and BAAL

As usual, we attended both the EUROSLA and BAAL conferences this summer and I was fortunate enough to get to represent Multilingual Matters at both.

Laura with the outdoor book display
Laura with the outdoor book display

This year marked the 25th EUROSLA conference and the special anniversary meeting took place Aix-en-Provence in France. The conference followed the usual format with plenaries by key researchers in the field and many papers on a wide variety of topics within the domain of second language acquisition. The novelty from a publishing aspect was that I got to do my first ever outdoor book display in the glorious (if rather hot!) French sunshine.

The delegates and I very much enjoyed the fresh air during the breaks, as well as the excellent refreshments that were provided.  I was most impressed that the organisers provided everyone with a re-useable mug at the start of the conference and we used them during each break – saving well over a thousand disposable cups throughout the conference.

The Pavillon Vendôme, location of the welcome reception
The Pavillon Vendôme, location of the welcome reception

We spent the first evening of the conference at an outdoor drinks reception at the beautiful Pavillon Vendôme where we were welcomed to the city by the mayor.  We were treated to tasty canapés, wine and I even tried pastis for the first time. My verdict was positive although I can imagine that the anise flavour might not be to everyone’s taste! The second evening was the conference dinner and again the wonderful French weather meant that we could make the most of another warm evening with drinks and dinner outside. Following the pattern of the conference thus far, we were again spoilt with yet more delicious food and drink!

The bestselling books of the conference were Measuring L2 Proficiency edited by Pascale Leclercq, Amanda Edmonds and Heather Hilton, Working Memory in Second Language Acquisition and Processing edited by Zhisheng (Edward) Wen, Mailce Borges Mota and Arthur McNeill, and Vivian Cook and David Singleton’s textbook Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition. David Singleton was also the recipient of the EUROSLA Distinguished Member Award during the conference, which was also a proud moment for us as he is founder and co-series editor of our Second Language Acquisition series.

From EUROSLA in France I headed back home and then straight on to BAAL which this year was hosted by Aston University in Birmingham. Sadly we left the sunshine behind us but having hardly ever been to Birmingham, despite it being less than a couple of hours from Bristol, I was interested to attend a conference in the city. The Aston University campus was located right in the heart of the centre but still manages to be a pleasant, green campus.

Birmingham's Poet Laureate Adrian Blackledge
Birmingham’s Poet Laureate Adrian Blackledge

The conference was opened by Adrian Blackledge and Angela Creese who gave a stimulating plenary during which they played some enchanting vignettes from their research, which included examples of communication in both the city library and market. A further highlight of the conference was a poetry session by Adrian Blackledge who is the current Poet Laureate for Birmingham. He recited some of the poems that he has composed during the past year, which included one to commemorate the start of the First Word War, another to celebrate Burns Night, and one which was not an official poem but that he had written on the birth of his first grandchild, a really touching piece.

Bestsellers at BAAL were understandably quite different to those at EUROSLA and the list was headed up by the second edition of Bonny Norton’s book Identity and Language Learning, Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes by Jan Blommaert and our new title Emerging Self-Identities and Emotion in Foreign Language Learning by Masuko Miyahara.

Next on our travel list include our annual trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair, where we meet with our contacts and representatives from the book industry, and then Tommi will be heading to Auckland in November for both the Symposium on Second Language Writing and the Language, Education and Diversity conference. Look out for him there if you are also in attendance!

Laura

Applied Linguistics conferences coming up…

Over the next few weeks we’re going to be very busy at several conferences. If you’re going to be attending any conferences where we have a stand please come and say hello as we always like to meet people face-to-face and we’ll also have displays of our books available to buy at a special discount.

Motivational Dynamics in Language LearningFirst up is Motivational Dynamics and Second Language Acquisition in Nottingham which Tommi and Laura will be attending. This symposium is organised by Zoltán Dörnyei, one of the editors of our forthcoming title Motivational Dynamics in Language Learning. Zoltán, as well as several other MM authors such as Ema Ushioda and Peter McIntyre, will be giving keynote speeches at the symposium.

Following this, Laura will be heading up to York for EUROSLA while Tommi will travel to Warwick for the BAAL conference. Both of these conferences are regulars on our conference schedule and we wouldn’t want to miss them!

Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic LandscapesThis year we are particularly excited to announce that Jan Blommaert’s book Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes has been shortlisted for the BAAL Book Prize. We’re really looking forward to the announcement of the winner and have our fingers crossed for Jan!

The following week in September Kim is heading to the Explorations in Ethnography, Language and Communication conference in Manchester. Explorations in Ethnography, Language and Communication is a biannual conference associated with the Linguistic Ethnography Forum, a Special Interest Group of BAAL. This is the first time we’ve attended this conference so we’re hoping to make some useful new contacts. If you’re going to be there, please come and say hello to Kim, she’ll be very pleased to meet you.

After all these conferences, we’ll all be back in the office for a while to catch up before heading to Germany in October for our annual trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair.

BAAL project Books for Africa

BAAL logoBAAL has started a new initiative to send study materials to African colleagues. Due to currency differentials it is very difficult to keep up with progress in academic fields in Africa. The materials will assist research, and postgraduate and undergraduate teaching.

Multilingual education is the norm in Sub-Saharan African countries, but even primary education is rarely spoken of as ‘multilingual’, or even bilingual, because the goal of the curriculum is usually for learners to gain competence in the ex-colonial language – English, French or Portuguese – as soon as possible. Research into African languages in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be very limited. Without research into sociolinguistic contexts, local language acquisition, development of mother tongue literacy and communication skills, and education through the mother tongues, any efforts to develop multilingual education are working under a blindfold.

Universities have the essential capacity – committed researchers who are native speakers of African languages – but they lack a history of research into local language development and education, and the material resources to carry out it out. Language and linguistics books written from an English language perspective are therefore still essential, but it is our aim to promote research grounded in local contexts, and reduce this dependency.

Up-to-date books on the teaching and learning of English as an additional language are equally needed. However, the contexts for using and learning English are very different from the USA, Canada, UK and other European countries where most of the research into EAL is carried out. Research into African varieties of educated English – especially oral language, the foundation of literacy – also needs support, as do translation studies, as the bridge to language development.

We work by requesting information from colleagues in Africa – their main needs in research and teaching. The following email is an example of a response received:

Dear Guy,

I am so pleased to learn of such a brilliant initiative and most of all, appreciate the fact that the books will be state of the art books….This initiative comes in very timely and if my institution is to benefit from it, it will really be great as my department has launched a new Masters Degree in Applied Linguistics this year. This is challenging considering the urgent need for an up to date bibliography….

Lily

Dr Atanga, Lem Lilian, Acting HoD, Department of African Studies, University of Dschang, Cameroon

At the same time as inviting direct requests, we are collecting books from individuals and publishers that are relevant. We have had some wonderful donations of current publications, as well as some older books that lecturers in the UK are happy to use as course readings. We then sort these to match them as closely to the needs as possible, and post them out. BAAL has generously provided a sum to cover the postage costs for at least a year.

The ideal is a book that really hits the mark – the effect can be wonderful – but the person in Africa with limited access to the internet, no means of travel, no internationally valid credit card, and living in a country that any on-line company refuses to post to, may hardly be aware it exists. This is the conundrum.

Multilingual Matters has so far been unique amongst publishers in responding to specific requests with titles from their catalogue.

SIG logoTopics that come up frequently needing assistance are:

  • Research Methods
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Multi-modality
  • Language and Language Education – dominated by ESL
  • Language Acquisition
  • Academic Writing
  • Teacher Training
  • Study of African languages and their use
  • Translation Studies

If we can raise awareness of research into Multilingual Education – in whatever context – we may provide inspiration and a guide to research aims and methods.

Annette Islei
Secretary of Language in Africa SIG, British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL)

BAAL Book Prize Winner 2013

Laura accepting the BAAL Book Prize on behalf of Alastair Pennycook
Laura accepting the BAAL Book Prize on behalf of Alastair Pennycook

Looking back over 2013, it has been a very busy year for us at Multilingual Matters and we have published many exciting books.  However, one of the highlights of the year actually involves a book that we published last year, Alastair Pennycook’s Language and Mobility: Unexpected Places.  In September it was announced that the book had jointly won the annual British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) Book Prize! A bit of excitement for our office and something for Alastair Pennycook to be really proud of.

9781847697639The book is comprised of a series of personal and narrative accounts and it explores aspects of travel, mobility and locality to ask how languages, cultures and people turn up in unexpected places. Among the materials and contexts included in the book are farewell addresses to British workers in colonial India, letters written from parents to their children at home, a Cornish anthem sung in South Australia, a country fair in rural Australia, and a cricket match played in the middle of the 19th century in south India. The result is a thought-provoking, original work and we feel it is a really worthy winner of the prize.

The prize was awarded at the annual BAAL conference (see Laura’s post on that here) and Alastair’s book now joins the 18 books which have won the award in the past – the full list of which is on the BAAL website.

BAAL 2013

This year Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh was host to the annual British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) Conference so I headed north to run our stand and enjoy a few days in Scotland.

BAAL Conference 2013
BAAL Conference 2013

We’ve had a busy summer and published quite a number of books in the past few months so this was reflected at the conference: delegates streamed to our stand to browse the new publications which were making their first conference appearance – among the popular books were Blommaert’s Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes and Ramanathan’s Language Policies and (Dis)Citizenship.

"Language and Mobility" by Alastair Pennycook - Joint Winner of the BAAL Book Prize 2013
“Language and Mobility” by Alastair Pennycook – Joint Winner of the BAAL Book Prize 2013

The welcome reception on the first evening was doubly exciting.  Not only was there a string quartet and whisky tasting for the delegates to enjoy, but also the announcement of the BAAL Book Prize 2013.  We were delighted for our author Alastair Pennycook, as his book Language and Mobility is the joint winner of this year’s award.  Sadly Alastair wasn’t present to celebrate his achievement, but I was delighted to accept the cheque and toast his success with some raspberry gin in his place!

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

Apart from the conference I had fun exploring Edinburgh in the evenings.  The centre and castle were beautiful in the end of summer dusky light and I made a special trip to the Elephant Café where JK Rowling spent a lot of time when she was writing the first Harry Potter book.  To see the full selection of my photos from the trip please visit our Facebook page here.

Laura

Summer in the Channel View Office

It’s been an eventful summer here in the Channel View office what with the Olympics, summer holidays, several birthdays as well as a 10 year anniversary and another still to come! Although we’re still mourning the end of the Olympics we can distract ourselves with the busy conference season. ahead of us.

Next week Tommi and I are heading to the Freie Universität in Berlin for the Sociolinguistics Symposium where we will see many of our authors. This year’s theme is Language and the city and there are sure to be plenty of interesting papers being presented. We will be displaying all our new and recent books and they will be for sale at a bargain price of €20.

September is also jam-packed with conferences, starting with EUROSLA and BAAL at the beginning of the month. Laura will be heading to EUROSLA at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland where the conference theme is Expanding discipline boundaries. We’re pleased to see that one of our authors Jean-Marc Dewaele will be a plenary speaker at the conference and Laura will look forward to catching up with him, our other authors and new faces while she’s there. Please come and visit our stand if you’re going to be at EUROSLA and take a look at our books on display.

Meanwhile I will be heading down to Southampton for BAAL where our author Aneta Pavlenko will be a plenary speaker. Again, I will be looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces and meeting new people too. This year’s theme is Multilingual Theory and Practice in Applied Linguistics and there seems to be a really interesting programme.

Later in the month Sarah is heading to Bournemouth for the Tourism, Climate Change and Sustainability conference. Channel View author Richard Butler will be a keynote speaker here and the conference covers all aspects of climate change, sustainable tourism, ecotourism and green issues as well as disaster management.

While Sarah heads to the seaside in Bournemouth, Tommi will be travelling overseas to Castelló in Spain for the Eighth International Conference on Third Language Acquisition and Multilingualism (L3) conference where several of the keynote speakers are Multilingual Matters authors.

But if you’re worried that we spend our whole time travelling and won’t be in the office when you need us then don’t panic! You can always reach us by email when we’re away at conferences and there should always be someone in the office to take your call if you have an urgent query.

Our contact details: info@multilingual-matters.com and +44 (0)117 3158562

Summertime at Channel View

It’s finally summertime here and we’re all trying to make the most of the rare days of sunshine! The summer can be a quiet time for academic publishers as many researchers are on holiday or making the most of the vacation and not having to teach their students. However, the Channel View team will be busy beavering away (inbetween our own holidays of course!) and getting ready for the start of the new academic year. We will be preparing our new catalogues as well as making arrangements for forthcoming conferences.

In August Tommi is attending the 16th World Congress of Applied Linguistics (AILA) in Beijing. China is a really big market for us and as AILA is an important conference it is essential that we attend. While he is there Tommi will be meeting with our Chinese rep to discuss our strategy for the Chinese market. He will report back on how the conference goes later in the summer.

Meanwhile, we have three important European conferences to prepare for in September. Firstly, there’s the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) conference. This year it’s just down the road at the University of the West of England so we don’t need to travel far to get there! Next is the 21st Annual Conference of the European Second Language Association (EUROSLA) which is in Stockholm, Sweden this year. Our publishing assistant Laura will be staffing our stand at EUROSLA so do go and see her and take a look at our new books. When Tommi has recovered from his trip to China he will be heading to the Seventh International Conference on Third Language Acquisition and Multilingualism (L3) which this year will be in Warsaw, Poland. We sponsor the Best Student Paper Prize at the L3 conference so the winner will be awarded their choice of €100 of Multilingual Matters books. That takes us up to the end of September and after that we will be preparing for the Frankfurt Book Fair.

So that’s what we’ll be doing for the next couple of months. Also, with 4 out of 5 of the Channel View team having their birthdays in August, we generally end up eating an awful lot of birthday cake throughout the summer!