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FutureBook Innovation Workshop Announced

We’re pleased to announce our second annual Innovation Workshop with The Bookseller. Last year’s half-day event was a huge success with some brutally honest case studies, some jaw-dropping demonstrations (namely from MIT’s Amaranth Borsuk) and debate around the challenges of incorporating innovation into publishing business models.

In just a year so much has changed. While some publishers have had great successes in the app market, a lot more have had their fingers burnt with no return on investment. After much discussion around the issue of DRM and piracy, we’re starting to see publishers such as Tor US and UK take the first steps toward DRM-free publishing. We’ve seen an explosion of social retailing platforms, new ereaders coming onto the market – there is an overwhelming sense that readers are hungry and ready for more exciting ways to get their stories.  There has also been a proliferation of experimentation around new business models for publishers.

Our programme this year will be a little bit different. We’ll be looking at three key strands: audience, risk and convergence of media.


For our audience panel, we’re looking closely at how the relationship between writer and reader is evolving. How much will our readers dictate how writing and publishing evolve? We have three amazing speakers explain how their innovative projects are testing our expectation of audience, chaired by Patrick Hussey from Arts & Business.

Jeff Norton, METAWARS – Jeff was a SVP at Chorion for three years, testing the boundaries of IP for books across different platforms and extending brands such as Enid Blyton.  He is now creating transmedia worlds across film, television, and books.  His new novel METAWARS (Orchard Books) invites readers into an immersive transmedia experience that builds on the worlds created in the book. Jeff is also experimenting with a new narrative development process with ALIENATED,  a new transmedia novel by including “beta-readers” in the writing process and iterating the narrative based on feedback.

Mike Jones, Head of Story, Portal Entertainment (SXSW, Start-up Weekend London in September 2011 and Most Innovative Company) With a background spanning writing, creative project development and technical production, Mike is an award winning writer, filmmaker and teacher with extensive experience in both traditional and new media production. He is lecturer in screen studies at the Australian Film TV and Radio School, has worked both internationally in series and feature script development, was editor with Australian National Playwrights Centre and is an extensively published author and columnist. Mike currently leads Story Development for Portal Entertainment and judges the Immersive Writing Lab.

Sarah Ellis, Digital Producer, Royal Shakespeare Company – Sarah will be talking about myShakespeare – the digital project for the World Shakespeare Festival commissioning artists from across the globe. myShakespeare is a place to consider what Shakespeare means to us today. Following the emergence of user generated content online, people from around the world have uploaded, shared and commented about Shakespeare focusing on twitter, Flickr and ebay. myShakespeare invites audiences to take part in the site to explore this question further by sharing work on the online gallery or blog.


We’ll also be taking a look at the convergence of media and trying to work out who, if anyone, owns storytelling. The boundaries between publishing, journalism, film-making, music and games industries are breaking down. What does this convergence of media mean for publishers, and who is best placed to commercially gain from storytelling?

In this session we’ll hear from:

Hilary Perkins is Multiplatform Commissioning Editor for Drama at Channel 4, where she is responsible for cross-platform work on programmes such as SkinsMisfitsShameless and Hollyoaks. Previously she was Editor of, looking after Film4s presence online and cross-platform. She joined Channel 4 in 2007 as Online Factual Editor after eight years at the BBC, including managing the interactive team at 1Xtra and six years as Interactive Producer for Radio 1.

Paul Bennun, Somethin’ Else – Paul Bennun is the Chief Creative Officer and an Executive Director of Somethin’ Else, a leading cross-platform and digital production company. Paul leads the Company’s digital output and future product and business strategy, as well as providing creative leadership. He holds internationally recognised awards in games, radio, mobile technology and interactive broadcasting such as BAFTA Awards, Sony Radio Academy Awards and the GSM Association Awards. Paul also presents science, technology and usability programmes for the BBC. Somethin’ Else has worked recently with Random House (Richard Dawkins, Malorie Blackman), Faber & Faber and other publishers.

Kim Plowright, Producer : Kim is well know for working  on projects where the internet, games and ‘old’ media intersect. Most recently, she’s produced/project managed Pepys Road for Storythings / Faber&Faber, and  Dreams of Your Life for Hide&Seek / Film4, the BAFTA-nominated cross-platform story. She has also worked on the cross-platform elements for the first series of Misfits for E4, SupermeRoutesgame, and a treasure hunt for the band Muse. If there’s ever an interesting project around we always hear she’s involved so we’re delighted to get her along to hear about her experiences.


In this final session we’ll be taking a close look at risk and trying to work out how we balance risk and innovation. It’s oft-cited that publishing is traditionally a risk based business: investment (advance) up front, no guarantee of return, loads of varied new products every month. Digital has thrown up all sorts of opportunities and with them, of course, additional risks. Furthermore as publishers are commercial entities with little public funding and no tradition of VC investment, there is a lot of discussion about how to fund and manage innovation both financially and organisationally from within, as well as well as mitigating risk though collaboration.

We’ll hear from book publishers willing to share their experiences, as well as investors from outside of the industry on their take on the publishing industry’s record of risk and innovation.

This session will be chaired by Paul Brindley, Co-founder, Music Ally / IC Tomorrow (Technology Strategy Board)

Paul Brindley is the co-founder of Music Ally. Paul has a background as a musician, having played bass guitar with The Sundays, an indie band who sold over two million albums worldwide. He then went on to work as a researcher in Tony Blair’s private office at the House of Commons, before picking up again with music by writing New Musical Entrepreneurs, a report into the impact of new technologies on the UK music industry. This influential textbook on theearly days of the digital music business was published by the Institute forPublic Policy Research (IPPR) think-tank in March 2000. He was also called in to advise the UK Government on the policy implications of technology and new media.


We’ll be ending with a quick-fire showcase of new things coming out – and we’re still putting that part of the programme together so if you have an innovative project just out then please get in touch at [email protected].

Hopefully this is enough for now to entice some of you to come along to the Unicorn Theatre on the 5th July for this special half-day event where we hope you’ll go away buzzing with ideas and hopefully some great new contacts for future projects. More here.

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