Celebrating Five Years of BookMachine

Last night we attended BookMachine’s birthday bash to celebrate five wonderful years of events and networking both offline and online. So much has changed since the first event back in 2010 and what better chance to reflect on the industry as a whole and predict what the next five years will bring, than at a birthday party?!

What makes BookMachine special is the people who come together. The birthday party was celebrated not just in London but simultaneously in Cambridge, Oxford and New York as well as online on the hashtag #BookMachine. Two of us from Team Inspired were at the London event and it was a sold out event with attendees from across the industry. Meanwhile our Deputy Managing Director, Donald Smith, attended the Oxford event.

In London, we listened to George Walkley, Head of Digital at Hachette, talk about the unknown future of publishing. A lovely sentiment was that the future will be based on the decisions and actions everyone in the room chooses to make. You are the future of publishing and the way you choose to develop your skills and generate ideas is what will shape the industry.

There will also be things that are out of our control but ultimately publishing is a people industry and being outward looking and open to change and new ideas is what creates growth. BookMachine was founded by Gavin Summers and Laura Summers and they bring people together in cities across the globe to listen, meet interesting people and learn something new.

There was no finer example of this than last night with the simultaneous events taking place and over in Oxford we had an evening with Michael Bhaskar, co-founder and Publishing Director with Canelo Digital Publishing (and indisputably one of the publishing industry’s digital guru’s!)

There was a healthy publishing gathering with Bookmachine and the Oxford Publishing Society at the Jam Factory, Oxford last night. Drawn in by the promise of hearing about the forthcoming changes in the industry over the next 5 years as we celebrated the success of the last.

Michael was introduced to this expectant audience and began his lively talk with a question – “What’s coming in the next 5 years?” Ready for those pointers, the audience was treated to – “Well, I don’t know!”

Perhaps not an auspicious start to the evening however, Michael soon took this ice breaking question and did indeed treat us to a highly interesting talk about the key issues he can predict coming over the next 5 years and they may not all be the ones you would think.

This very interesting look at what the future might hold for the industry (also covered in Michael’s book – The Content Machine) made us take a look and ask questions about the last 500 years of change (oh! change isn’t new at all!) and touch on the huge growth that’s happened in retail consolidation. Think of the effect which Amazon has had. Think about discoverability and Open Access. Michael’s assertion is that Publishing will definitely reflect this growth with more ‘super sized’ publishers, more small publishers in order to compete in the market with ‘super sized’ publishing giants and small, clever independents!

There will be a proliferation of small, digital publishers. Most of his thoughts will come to pass but only when we get to Bookmachine 2020, will we be able to judge.

A number of good questions followed from the floor on how this would affect academic, education and trade publishers in both Oxford and London. Across the globe the BookMachine’s 5th Birthday Party gave a floor for people to share their publishing knowledge, expand their knowledge but – and perhaps more importantly – take a moment to think about how little they do know about publishing’s future and what they can do to shape it and make it.