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Present and Future Challenges Discussed at IPG Spring Conference 2023

On 27 February, the doors opened at the Shaw Theatre, London, on this year’s Independent Publishers Guild Spring Conference. Sponsored by PLS, this year’s conference maintained the high standard of speakers and panels that have made IPG events a big draw.   

The conference began with the first keynote speaker, BBC journalist, Dharshini David, who touched on the realities of trade, investment, and jobs, with a refreshingly positive focus on reasons to be cheerful in 2023. David spoke of the UK economy’s resilience in the face of the ‘Twisty Twenties’ and ‘The Westminster Carousel’, which was in stark contrast to the previous economic roundup David gave at the last IPG conference in September.  

In keeping with previous IPG conferences, the keynote speakers were thought provoking and engaging. In addition to Dharshini David, the conference also heard from David Rowan (below), founding editor of Wired, and Professor Anand Menon of Kings College London. In his talk, Rowan considered how artificial intelligence tools might impact the world of publishing and took time interrogating the big question – what is creativity? Professor Menon also gave an equally insightful talk about how the EU referendum offered a fascinating glimpse into social divides withing the UK and what challenges have been created by its departure from the EU.


The conference's other sessions were no less as interesting with Canongate CEO, Jamie Byng, taking to the Shaw Theatre stage to talk about the power of independent publishing. Byng discussed how independence allows for the preservation of individual and industry-wide passion and how the love of books, along with professionalism, are integral to his work. Later in the conference, Bloomsbury Publishing CEO and President of the Publishers Association, Nigel Newton, also celebrated the importance of independent publishers and the value of their ability to provide the personal touch that many authors and booklovers covet. 

Audiences both online and at the Shaw Theatre were treated to a host of speakers who ably covered 2023’s hot topics, such as the emergence of ‘BookTok’. Introducing attendees to the new social media phenomenon, Matthew Perry gave a comprehensive overview of the latest e-commerce platform: TikTok’s Book Shop. The platform incorporates behind-the-scenes content and trends such as bookshelves, reading slumps, and book recommendations. Users can access shopping capabilities, including in-feed short videos, live feeds, and live shopping, making it a useful publishing tool for paper-publishing. 

The conference reassembled on Tuesday for a morning of practical workshops that dealt with a range of topics from advertising strategies to podcasting. During the morning, our very own Head of Rights and Permissions, Amy Ellis together with right consultant Clare Hodder gave expert advice on the importance of good rights management and how rights can work for publishers.  

We look forward to the IPG’s autumn conference, which we will be sponsoring and again exhibiting. We hope to see you there.