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PLS Sponsors the IPG Spring Conference 2024

Last week on 27th and 28th February 2024, the Shaw Theatre, next to the British Library, hosted the return of this year's Independent Publishers Guild's Spring Conference and PLS were proud to continue our sponsorship for one of independent publishing's annual highlights.


As well as thought leading sessions, attendees made the most of the ample opportunity for networking, from the Book Breakfast on day one, to the exquisite dinner hosted this year at Searcys Champagne Bar which PLS also proudly sponsored. Throughout the Conference, attendees were also encouraged to complete an Exhibitor Passport, getting the most out of conversations with the trade associations, suppliers, and consultants as well as the independent publishers in attendance.

Opening keynote, Sophy Thompson of Thames and Hudson looked back on the organisation’s 75 years of growth.  Thomspon emphasised the value of organic development and creativity, particularly in a world of exponential AI advancements stating that “it’s about twelve years, twenty years. It’s not about twelve-month dividends”.

Srin Madipalli of People and Robots spoke about the advantages of closed-system AI programs. In a session chaired by PLS board member, Helen Kogan, of Kogan Page and introduced by Dick Warner of Class Legal and Medical, Madipalli explored solutions for mitigating AI errors and emphasized the importance of human experimentation, iteration and feedback in guiding AI's growth.

Social media experts David Schneider and Ella Higgins walked attendees through which platforms and formats to use to give voice and personality to your product and brand, which for independent publishers includes finding your niche and making the most of the trends of interest-based sub-cultures online.

The afternoon keynote looked at the industry’s economic and political landscape with Sir Chris Bryant MP, shadow minister for the creative industries and digital and published author, praised independent publishers for their innovative work. Sir Chris emphasised the importance of UK publishing and the English language, sharing his enthusiasm for the industry and the nation’s many literary traditions. On copyright, Sir Chris stated that it was important to find a balance between the needs of rightsholders and AI developers but saw the huge benefits that the UK’s copyright framework brings.

“(Copyright) is the most successful form of international trade deal […] it would be a mistake to dismantle it.” Sir Chris Bryant MP.

Our own Chief Executive, Tom West, spoke on ‘The Value and Future of Collective Licensing’ giving an overview of the critical role of licensing in sustainable growth in publishing, as well as in the ethical development of AI. 

On Conference Day 2, the Conference returned to the familiar topic of AI, George Walkley returned to look back at the growth and progress which has been made. Last year, at the we dove deep into the topic anticipating the monumental developments in AI which the beginning of 2024 would hold, with George reporting that the change he had predicted had come around even faster than anticipated. While the publishing industry has voiced its rightful misgivings about AI, Walkley concluded on the hopeful note, through comprehensive policy which aligns with our values and aims, publishers and trade associations alike can reap the benefits of AI while mitigating the risks.

Wednesday’s attendees also heard from rights consultant Lynette Owen OBE, who explored the principles, methods and tools for rights promotion and sales, focusing on how Rights Consultancy for IPG Members can offer bespoke support.

As an important tool to help independent publishers and their challenge to deliver  sustainable growth, attendees were reminded of the wealth of knowledge, tools and resources available to IPG Members to support this development: