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Marc Lambert C.e.o., Scottish BookTrust


W


hile Scotland and England have been part of the same polit


for 312 years, it is true to say that we remain, in many respects, strangers to one another, despite our long and fruitful association. One might have imagined the 1707 Acts of Union producing a greater degree of cultural homog- enisation, yet the differences between our two nations becomes more stark every day, most espe- cially under current sociopolitical and parliamentary conditions. It is not easy


to say what the constitutional result of this will be, but it doesn’t really mater in a cultural sense. Because amid all uncertainties, one thing is certain: the conviction in Scotland is that Scotland has a different destiny to England. If the past 300 years tell us anything, it is that this


TheBookseller.com


idea is persistent, has a very long pedigree and it isn’t going away any time soon. At the conference, I will be


Amid all the uncertainties, one thing is certain: the conviction in Scotland is that Scotland has a different destiny to England


Te barriers to entering the industry, because all the bigger publishers are in the capital, are insurmountable to many people


illustrating some of the ways in which these sociocultural differences are made manifest and distinct in Scotish Government policy, most especially in the areas of Early Years, literacy, reader development, education and the support for languages other than English. These differences present challenges for London-based publishers and reader development organisations, but they also provide an environment which is far more enlightened and receptive to the kinds of work we all do, and to our shared aim, no mater our location, to bring all the pleasures and benefits of reading


and books to as many people on this isle as possible.


? O


Debbie Jane Williams Head of publishing, UCLan


ſten, people say that we’re in “the North” but, strictly speaking, we are


in the centre of the country. In fact, a telephone box three miles away from where our office is (in Preston) is in the exact centre of the country geographically. This means that we are incredibly well placed to travel anywhere in the whole country. For publicit, especially touring, this is a great place to be as we are not too far from anywhere. There is no denying that the cost of living is also a lot cheaper. A living wage in Preston is a lot different to a living wage in London. Houses are affordable, as are rents, overheads and many other things. This means that we can recruit a diverse workforce from different backgrounds who cannot afford to live in London on an assistant’s wage. Children’s book publishing, in


particular, is extremely London- centric, so if you want a career in that genre, you have litle choice but to move to the capital. That makes the workforce not very


diverse which, for children’s books, is (I would say) a huge problem. There is such a wonderful pool of talent and passion for publishing outside London, but the barriers to entering the industry, because all the bigger publishers are in the capital, are insurmountable to many people. I find it very hard to explain why there are no larger publishers in this part of the world, especially in the children’s book genre. Rents are cheaper, things are more central, there is a more diverse workforce to access. What’s not to like? I asked this question recently of one of the larger publishers based in the capital and was told that it was because all of the agents are in London, but this is simply not a problem for us. We can jump on a train, use Skype or the phone, as we do with agents that we deal with in the US. It is so frustrating that a larger publishing house won’t take the plunge and move a decision-making part of their business out of London.


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