Publishing Summer School in Florence 2011
Each year the publishing programme at Oxford Brookes holds a summer school in Florence, a co-operative event with our European partners in France, Germany and Slovenia. MA student Teresa Ballesteros writes about this year’s Finaly seminar on digital publishing.
An American, a Spaniard, and a Dane, along with British and Chinese students, went to a villa in Florence. What sounds like the beginning of a bad joke was actually the situation at this year’s Florence Summer School for digital publishing, which took place from the 5th to 11th June. The so-called ‘British Group’ from Brookes University was the most international of all the cohorts at the school. Only two Brits among them, plus the lecturers Angus and Sheila! The Brookes contingent joined students, lecturers, and librarians from three partner universities, Paris Ouest, HTWK Leipzig, and Ljubljana. In the lovely surroundings of Villa Finaly, we had morning lectures and presentations about how digital innovations are revolutionizing the publishing industry and libraries in the four different countries. In the afternoon we could choose among three different workshops: ‘the lexicon’ of publishing terms in Europe, ‘enhanced ebooks’, and ‘new channels of distribution for libraries’. On the concluding day, we visited the publisher Giunti Editore, across the road from the Villa. There, following a very friendly welcome, we were able to ask the editors questions about the digital situation in Italy. Of course, we also found time during the week to visit the beautiful city of Florence, enjoy Italian food, and even hold an impromptu football tournament among the four countries represented at the Summer School (Germany won).
After learning more about the publishing climate in other European countries, I came away with a renewed appreciation for having done my Master’s in the UK, a place where the digital debate is taking place most intensely and where publishers are starting to include digital innovations as a standard component of their operations. The Summer School experience gave me one more reason for being glad to have chosen Oxford Brookes: rather than seeing digital innovations as a threat, the course has helped me to see the world of opportunities those innovations can bring to the publishing industry.