Publishing: more than you ever imagined

The UK Publishers Association has launched a new campaign, #WorkInPublishing to change perceptions about publishing as a career option for 16+ students, especially those from under-represented backgrounds. 

Publishers are very conscious that the industry needs to attract a wider range of people.  To achieve this, young people need to know about publishing, and the wide range of jobs on offer; how the term ‘publishing’ represent: consumer, academic, professional, educational, children’s, apps and e-books and much more.  Publishing needs to be seen as a career option for lawyers and accountants, for digital coders and science graduates. 

The PA and TISP today relaunch the Publishers Association’s Innovation with Impact e-book, to demonstrate the exceptional innovations the UK publishing industry produces. All of the examples in the e-book require the efforts of a large team – from the editor to the developer, contracts to operations departments, making ideas public is a collaborative and hugely satisfying task. Find out more at or by following @publishersassoc.”

Publishing more than you ever imagined

British publishing is highly creative, digitally developed and relentlessly and restlessly innovative. This e-book showcases some of the best examples of this publishing innovation and shows the impact it is having on our society and economy. It draws upon examples of developing products, services and business models from across The Publishers Association membership of 115 companies.

In creating this document The PA has had countless conversations with senior executives, digital innovators from a range of publishers. These have enabled us to answer the key questions we set out to address.

What does innovation look like?

Whether the content is a novel, a text book, an academic journal or a children’s story, there is a spectrum of ways in which it can be presented. On the one end there is the familiar – and still important – printed word on the physical page. On the other, there is an endless realm of possibility. We are clear that a pdf version of a book is not innovation; at least not any more. Nor are the now ubiquitous “books behind glass” examples of it. As this e-book demonstrates, innovation can take the form of being able to take text and manipulate it, fly through it, mash it up, annotate it, visualise it, play with it, play through it, and many other things besides. Innovation means breaking free of the constraints associated with the physical book: so either the material considerations such as numbers of pages; or conceptual factors, such as linear narrative need no longer apply. Innovation means taking a learning platform and moving away from it being a set of questions, with a set of marked answers to come later; but bundling in learning, testing and assessment in the same place, and in ways which enable teachers to engage with pupils on an individual as well as collective class basis. Innovation means developing tools for research which allow links, connections and analysis to be done at scales and speeds unimaginable to the human reader. And it also means building on what is already possible in the physical world to enhance researchers’ experience and simply make their life easier.

Why do publishers innovate?

Partly because they can. The digital revolution has given publishers an exhilarating suite of tools with which to make their content more accessible, more informative, more fun and often more useful. These techniques are constantly being developed and perfected so that there is no centre of gravity to innovation, just a constantly evolving landscape of opportunity. But publishing innovation it is not simply an exercise in development for its own sake. Ultimately, publishers exist to serve as their link between their authors and readers, and so innovation comes as a result of addressing the needs of both those communities.

What does it mean for the reader?

If there is no positive benefit for anyone other than the publisher then innovation is a vain and probably expensive exercise. In each chapter of this e-book we look at the “Impact of Innovation” on Knowledge & Research, Education, Reading and Libraries. In each case, publishing innovation is transforming the way in which people get the things they read and how they read them. We hope you find this ebook stimulating.

We will be updating it on a regular basis as publishers’ incessant development of new innovation continues. Impact on furthering knowledge and research Throughout publishing’s history, the curation and dissemination of knowledge, the conveying of facts, theories and ideas about the world we live in, from one mind to another, has been central to its mission. Human society progresses on the back of its exploration and discovery, led by the work conducted within its academic institutions. Publishers work with leading scholars and researchers to present their work to the world, be that either the academic community which can build upon or knock back those ideas, or to the world at large. In the digital age publishers have enhanced their role by ensuring that the potential of the internet to communicate with the global research community is realised. This means that research findings can be presented to the world more widely than ever before. Disciplines can be inter connected. Findings from one decade more easily compared with those of another. Text and Data mining technology is beginning to develop. This allows thousands of articles to be read at a speed and volume inconceivable for a human reader, with the result that similarities, links and discrepancies between data of different types can be identified and fed into research. Publishers have been at the forefront of working with those developing these analytic tools. Publishers also have a role to play in the enhancement of research, providing tools and services that quite simply make a researchers life easier. And publishers are constantly striving to further research, look to areas such as Big Data and how they can help funders, researchers and universities make sense of the future. These case studies demonstrate the impact which publishers’ innovation is having on furthering knowledge and research across the world.

The e-book Innovation with Impact is available here.

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