Tag Archives: futurebook

The importance of Physical books for children

By Victoria Southgate


There is currently a huge shift in publishing towards digital formats and ePublishing, I am a great advocate for technological advances in publishing as it is a major aspect of the VixenUK business model.
The future of publishing must include ePublishing and appBooks but a digital future doesn’t have to be exclusive of physical books.

VixenUK is striding into the future, embracing the digital revolution but at the same time, not losing sight of the importance of physical books especially for children.

Why are physical books important for children?
Children’s development is ruled by discovering the physical world. They do this a number of ways but one that I believe to be of extreme importance is through the means of a physical book

The experience of textures and sounds from the early books, the colours and the voyage of discovery that takes place with each page that is turned, and the sense of achievement at such a simple task is something that has to be enhanced by a physical experience like lifting a flap to find something underneath, turning a page, and the joy of a parent reading the words that guide the child. An experience which I cannot see being matched by technology and a screen.

Children develop their fine motor skills through turning pages and being taught to be careful and gentle, otherwise the page gets ripped. They begin to understand the world around them can be fragile and tactile. They learn by feel.

Have you ever seen a child not touch something? They are programmed to experience through their senses, they pick something up, they feel it and in the early years they taste it, it’s only as we get older that the need to feel something to understand it reduces (though for some it never fully goes away. – for example – I cannot walk through a clothes shop without touching the fabric. That is the way I like to clothes shop.)

So a child without physical books could potentially miss out in other areas of development. (Though I am sure that many would learn the lesson through different means but perhaps much later in life.)
When I was a child, I learned that everybody treats books differently and I learned that you have to respect them. To some people, books are precious items, to be looked after and treasured, to other they are a throw away item, but to all they deliver an experience. For my family, books are precious, they hold memories for the reader and every blemish or worn page tells its own story.
The experience of reading a book that I knew my mother held and read when she was my age, seeing and feeling the difference in the feel of the paper was exciting and mesmerising and were experiences I will always cherish.

I can’t imagine that sense of being trusted enough to be given such a cherished item would be as intense with a digital format book, something that can be re-downloaded into the state it was before. Plus, technology will move on so fast, handsets will change,and the experience and feel of a digital book could not be passed down the generations.

Physical books will always have their place and are extremely important for children’s development and that’s even before we get to the content!


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Finalist in the Local Business Accelerator Scheme

By Victoria Southgate


VixenUK is a finalist in the Local Business Accelerator scheme!

One morning in October 2011 I was reading my twitter feed and @DeborahMeaden had tweeted about a business scheme and that any new start-ups should apply. It took me a minute to decide to click through to the link she had provided and then another 20 minutes to complete and send the application form.

It occurred to me that thousands of people and businesses would apply, why would I get noticed? I didn’t know, but my belief that I have created a superb business spurred me on to fill in the application form anyway.

Over the next few weeks I saw the tweets become fewer as the deadline for applications passed. Christmas was on its way, I had a lot of meetings and discussions to fit in before the Christmas break (which, I had decided, would be a proper break this year! A reward for a year of hard work – I managed it for a week) Christmas was lovely and relaxing and by the time New Year came, I had forgotten about the competition.

I started the new work year with follow-up emails, and conversations and then a new mail popped up in my inbox: Subject: Finalist selection for Local Business Accelerator

“Wow!” I thought, opening it with trepidation… when a brief thought crossed my mind – ‘had I been shortlisted I should have found out before Christmas’. The trepidation had turned to curiosity and then I read the content of the email.

I should have been informed! It didn’t matter, in fact, it was probably a blessing because by not knowing I was able to have a relaxing Christmas and New Year, which means I am well rested and probably better prepared to deliver a presentation to a panel next week.

2012 is looking to be a fantastic year, whatever the outcome!

For more information on the scheme and its supporters go to: http://www.newspapersoc.org.uk/accelerate-me

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The Future of Publishing

by Victoria Southgate, VixenUK


For the past 2 days I have been processing and contemplating the myriad of information I received at this year’s FutureBook Conference and deciding what I think it means to the future of publishing.

Having only worked in the industry since 2008 (and having had first hand experience of the uncertainty that has shrouded the publishers due to the obvious strides being made in new technology) I was hoping to gain an insight and understanding into how the publishing world’s landscape is changing and how this change affects businesses, freelancers and readers.

There was a consensus of the speakers that ‘Publishers’ are now ‘Publishing’ and to progress in the digital age, publishing businesses have to ‘Add Value’. 

I have spent the last 3 years learning and observing the way in which the industry is having to adjust. The shift from the printed book to the eBook. It is an inevitability that everybody in the publishing industry has to embrace this change, or not survive. What I have experienced over the past 3 years is the uncertainty of all publishers, especially those businesses that have trodden the print path for centuries and know of little else. 

The FutureBook conference speakers, who varied from companies that have been at the forefront of the industry for centuries, to some which have been officially trading for less than six months. Gave me hope that the shift I have been experiencing has reached a turning point. The industry as a whole seems to be more positive that it is a change for the better and I heard very little negativity (but then it was a ‘FutureBook’ conference). 

The companies that are embracing change and adapting to becoming fully digital were very enthusiastic about the positive changes – mostly with regards to the quantity of consumers and the different ways in which consumers will buy and read. However, they did not seem to be interested in what could be lost if there is a complete shift to solely embracing eBooks at the expense of physical books. 

‘I was on the tube and the lady opposite me was reading a physical book. I was able to see what she was reading, read the summary on the back cover and by being able to do so, it inspired me to research the book with a view to purchasing it. I was also sitting opposite a young man with an eReader. The screen was full of text and facing away from me, it could have been any book. I had no similar interest or inspiration.’

This eBook vs Physical book experience was reinforced during the conference when one speaker told of the books he has read this year on his eReader, but he could not name them He could not always remember the name or author of the book whilst reading.

So, not only have we already lost the visual advertising opportunities, the eReader has also lost the visual reminder that an illustrated front cover provides. This is not seen as a negative, however, rather – a potential issue that has to be resolved. (I have some great ideas how – which I will discuss in future posts!)

This, for me as a children’s author and illustrator, is an essential and important part of the reading process! – I agree that, for holidays and the heavy reader, the eReader is invaluable and, in my opinion, is a fantastic replacement for the throw away paperbacks and will save the planets forests, but I would like to see more of an effort made to maintain the physical book.


My conclusion:

Nobody knows where digital technology is going to take publishing, so it is up to the individual companies to carve their own path. I think it will be the innovations of the reading experience, coupled with flexibility and choice, that will win the support of the consumers.

It is a very exciting time to be a new start-up in this industry. Even the large established companies are having to rethink their business models if they are going to survive, and therefore we are all on an even playing field.

I am passionate that Physical books and eBooks MUST be developed as a ‘package’ for the reading ‘experience’ to survive!


My vision of the future of publishing:

eBooks will replace paperbacks and I envision that well-bound hardbacks will be in the homes as bedtime reading, bought as gifts (with the option to download the eBook for free) and as ‘show’ pieces. The quality of the physical book will increase and the eBook will create the flexibility our busy lives require.

Thank you for reading – comments and discussions encouraged!




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