IPG Spring Conference 2023

Feeling the perfect post-conference mix of inspired and exhausted after the IPG Spring Conference this week – and in the spirit of the conference – we did ask the increasingly famous AI chatbot Chat GPT to write us a blog on the event to see what it might come up with… It actually started out fairly well:

The Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) recently held its annual Spring Conference, and it was a great success. The event was held in London and brought together a diverse group of publishers from around the world. The conference was an opportunity for independent publishers to network, learn about new developments in the industry, and share best practices.

All this is absolutely true. The conference was indeed a great success and a wonderful opportunity for networking. However, the blog then went onto mention some speakers and seminars from previous conferences, giving out of date information and the text certainly missed the essence of the conference, i.e. the very human sentiments of collaboration, inspiration, learning and, perhaps most acutely, the feeling of connection.

It was a privilege to hear from leading economists such as Dharshini David again, and make connections between her eloquent and informative update at this conference and what she had shared at the previous conference. A connection which, in itself, gave us reasons to be cheerful amidst a challenging economic time.

We heard from a range of IPG members about how they are connecting with their audiences. Early on in the conference we heard about the heartening connection that Canongate showed with the public, leaving freely available books up and down the Southbank as well as in Edinburgh to spread the gift of reading to a wide range of readers.  We learned about CLA’s connection with schools via their education platform and the importance of being flexible, allowing free trial runs of new products to give their potential customers the opportunity to test. This kind of connection shows the respect and consideration that is so rife across the IPG community. A lesson in connecting with new audiences via TikTok and the platform’s shop opened our minds to the ways in which we might enhance our customer journeys and customer experiences to be even more engaging, more current and involve even more storytelling than the stories themselves.

The keynote from Wired’s David Rowan left us all stunned in silence and asking thousands of questions simultaneously. How will AI change the industry, and our world? How will it affect our jobs? What are the opportunities here? We all felt the shared concern about losing some of the real-life human connection that we know and love so well. At the same time, the shared excitement was palpable of what this could mean… can we connect our books with our readers through virtual realities, almost literally bringing them into the story? Can we build connections between the plot and the readers by giving them some influence over the narrative using technology? Just wow!

We saw the power of initiating new connections from Nigel Newton, Bloomsbury’s Chief Exec – this time in the form of letter writing. The power of the written word in a letter to Her Majesty the Queen led to a launch event at Windsor Castle for the publisher. And we celebrated the connections one can make throughout the community when starting up a new business – building relationships with reps, distributors etc. has charged new business NoodleJuice into success. Similarly, new ventures such as Bookshop.org connect a wide range of independent bookshops to readers by acting as an ecommerce platform on their behalf.

The list is endless and above all, we loved connecting with other IPG members in person and online throughout the two-day event – listening, learning and sharing insight with them. This very human joy of connecting is at the heart of not only conferences such as this, and indeed the work we do at Inspired, but also publishing itself and will continue to be so as we embrace new technologies.

We thank the IPG for great Spring Conference and look forward to sharing ideas and insights with many more of you at future events, both in-person and online.