Day 2 of the IPG Virtual Conference Summary - It's all about Heart, Collaboration & Carrying on!

As Day 2 of the IPG Virtual Spring Conference came to a close I think it is fair to say that there has been as much of a buzz about the ideas, the content, the engagement and the industry as there is at any physical IPG conference. A huge well done again to the IPG, for putting together a strong, informative, practical programme for IPG members and the publishing community – I’m sure the industry will agree that this has been a real boost.

Today the conference kicked off with a session James Daunt who shared his retail know how on bookstore opening, and the practicalities behind this. He reminded us that whilst there is unlikely to be a rush back to the high street, the merits of physical shopping still exist, although it will be a different experience to before. Human connections are still absolutely key and for independent publishers, the outlook should be optimistic – as independents we are nimble which allows us space to be creative, innovative and vibrant in this market.

On the hugely important topic of mental health (more on this in a previous blog here) – Melissa Doman reminded us that this is always a crucial conversation. Times are changing and we don’t just have social permission to talk about mental health, it’s encouraged! We know that staff feel more connected, more engaged and more open when they work for an organisation who prioritise well-being, it goes without saying that happy healthy staff = productive staff. We know that in the publishing industry in particular, that people are absolutely at the heart of what we all do.

Supply chain has clearly impacted the entire industry, and it was really interesting to hear from David Taylor at Ingram Content Group about the shift to POD and the ability for orders to be fulfilled from virtual inventory – these are not new initiatives, but trends that have been accelerated due to the global pandemic we are experiencing. By mixing up the POD and traditional print model – this makes the global supply chain less fragile. On a positive note, the print book is alive and well, we have seen more movement to direct to consumer sales and the future is optimistic for independent publishers, the ability for us to reach markets have never been greater and we have technology in place to encourage direct selling. We need to remain optimistic in the long term for our supply chain.

So with new ways of accessing global markets, and different routes to sales Ruth Jones talked practically about how to use data to drive sales. Echoing a comment from Rebecca Smart yesterday – “Metadata is the new Merchandising”! We are going to see a new normal, but we are not clear yet on what that looks like. Ruth encouraged us all to go back to basics – go back to our consumer, who are they? Where are they? What do they do? Why do they do it? If we have this data, smart small, and try small experiments - we can engage our consumer in the most effective, and genuine way.

The International impact has of course seen similar effects to those we have experienced in the UK, hearing from the Australia and Singapore Publisher Associations we heard about the imagination and innovation that has come from the Australian Educational Publishing Sector, and a huge increase in ecommerce activity in Singapore, as well as some amazing figures showing book consumption through libraries.  

The IPG have shown once again through the delivery of an excellent programme what a nimble industry publishing really is – we are real people, who love what we do and we have shown that we can adapt. We have the advantage of being highly connected during this pandemic across the globe and whilst we are not sure what the new ‘normal’ is going to look like, there is an awful lot of crystal ball gazing (naturally) but it seems the overall message is to keep collaborating, keep questioning, keep challenging yourself on what your consumer actually wants and make sure you engage with them! Thanks again IPG for a collaborative, inspirational and truly enjoyable couple of days and ‘see’ you all soon!