Guest blog by Seonaid Macleod, Campaigns Manager at The Publishers Association:
If you’re interested in a career in publishing be prepared to be surprised. It’s an industry that’s changed enormously over the last few years, and it offers an incredibly wide range of opportunities for all sorts of people: creative, commercial, analytical, you name it. The industry is constantly evolving and the roles it demands are constantly expanding.
At its most fundamental, publishing is simply making something public, it’s about communicating ideas, making connections, linking people who are creating content with the people who need that content, whether it’s a story, the best way to solve quadratic equations, a bit of breakthrough scientific research, a new way of structuring organisations, whatever. The information economy is powered by ideas, and publishers are at the heart of getting those ideas out to the world in the way that will have the most impact.
To do that, it takes an incredibly diverse range of people and skills. Many people focus on trade publishing, which is a big part of the publishing industry, and it’s incredibly varied. This is the sort of stuff you see when you go into Waterstones – novels, cookbooks, children’s books, celebrity biographies, travel books and so on. What you don’t see in Waterstones is the increasing amount of trade publishing that’s happening in the digital space: ebooks, apps, games and so on. This is an incredibly exciting space to be in right now.
But it’s not the only type of publishing out there, and it’s not even the biggest: educational publishing is a massive part of the industry. Education publishers publish material for schools and colleges, and that includes textbooks but it’s increasingly also about elearning resources and integrating learning with the school’s other systems such as assessment and administration.
Finally there’s Academic, Professional and Learning publishing, which serves specialists in their field: this is where the cutting-edge stuff is published, the research that will one day cure cancer, the most advanced thinking by the world’s most brilliant minds. The market here is mainly libraries, and here perhaps more than anywhere you can see the shift away from print to digital publishing, making information not just available but useful; creating tools to help scholars and professionals find and use the material they need in their work or research.