2011 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival – a delightful new discovery

I’ve been wanting to attend the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival for years so it was with great excitement I headed off to talk on two panels at the 2011 event. One was about the Future of Publishing, and the other about Community Building Online.

My first panel was called ‘The Power of e’ and we discussed the Future of Publishing, digital versus print and a multitude of other topics. The panel was chaired by Publishing Professional Sue Jones who did a great job trying to marshal ALL the panel had to say into a session of just over an hour.  Sue is interested in the ways the educational publishing industry is changing and the levers driving this change.  We talked a lot about how topical the discussion about digital is, how revenue for digital is going up up up and the problems facing Bookshops. Sue asked me about the concerns of some of my clients and I had to use the buzzword ‘Discoverability’. I’d love to find an alternative but it is a good one-word summary about one of the issues of publishing online.

Also on the panel was Rebecca Starford, Associate Publisher at Affirm Press and Editor of the amazingly good quarterly publication Kill Your Darlings. I’m very lucky that Rebecca left the July issue for me to read and I’m enjoying it immensely! If you want to find out what’s in the latest issue you can read about it here and then perhaps you’ll subscribe here! With a satisfying feel in your hands, great cover art and an abundance of good writing it’s gained a new fan! Kill Your Darlings is only one of many new discoveries I made at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

Fellow panellist Fiona Caulfield’s Love Travel Guides were another delight to discover. Fiona has a background as a high-flying Branding Professional and Futurist and travel writer. After a gruelling trip to Everest Base Camp in 2004 she visited Calcutta and with the assistance of a wonderful lady in bookshop began to uncover some of the information about the place that only a local can share.

As Fiona said when explaining the whole story behind the Love Travel Guides:

I needed intimate knowledge of what made the city really zing: where did the people who loved the city shop and eat and how did they live?

Fiona launched with Love Bangalore in 2007 followed with Love Mumbai, Love Delhi, Love Jaipur, Rajasthan and Love Goa due soon. She describes them as ‘Handbooks for Luxury Vagabonds’ and I would almost recommend planning a trip to some of those places just to make sure you need copy of them!

As an ex-book Production Manager I loved the cloth covers and the eco-friendly, non bleached hand-made paper from Jaipur. They are crafted in India and are child-labour free.  As an indication of the passion that goes into not just the content of the guides (“Books about places you can’t Google.”) Fiona tried many paths to print the books covers on traditional khadi fabric, hand-woven in Andhra Pradesh, India.

After being told a number of times that it wasn’t possible, she partnered with with Delhi-based fashion designer Sonam Dubal to create the beautiful cloth covers. A great outcome and shows the benefit of tenacity when you want to create a truly special product.

Based on how many questions we received at the end of the session and how many people stayed to ask us specific questions after the event we think the panel discussion went well. Of course with a topic so large it’s hard to cover off too many subjects in just over an hour but the attendees seemed pleased – and I had fun!

I will be blogging more when I get a chance about the writers I’ve been inspired by and the fun I had at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2011. Definitely recommend you attend next year if you can!

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