Publishing Focus – Darren Laws from BookTube

Whilst at the London Book Fair in April, we bumped into Darren Laws. In fact, he was the lucky guy to have taken our photo modelling the eye-catching Ribbonfish t-shirts. After spotting the BookTube stand, we took Darren’s card and followed up with some questions about what exactly his mission is, and where he hopes to make an impact on the publishing industry.
Hi Darren, thanks for speaking to us. Firstly, could you tell us a little about BookTube?
BookTube will be the only dedicated book show on free to air TV and online. Vibrant, quirky, fresh and inclusive. BookTube is not afraid to champion popular titles along with new and fresh voices, embracing books that people want to read. Repeated throughout the week it will air, and available to watch and download online as a whole or in segments.
BookTube offers audiences and readers the opportunity to watch the show where they want to watch it, when they want to watch it and importantly how they want to watch it. BookTube will be unlike any other book show you have seen. BookTube will be a free to view TV and online book programme for 21st century publishing.
And what are your aims for the next years as a startup?
We will begin to shoot the pilot episode in the next few months with aim of broadcasting in September. Our goal is to make a show that is appealing to the publishing industry but vital to readers. In the first year we would like to produce six one hour episodes and expand to two series a year broadcast at key book buying times.
How do you see your role in this modern publishing industry?
Supportive to the industry in general but unafraid to be a little contentious or disruptive as well. It’s important we retain out independence and vitality. The publishing industry sometimes needs to embrace change a little quicker. On the whole though the publishing industry is exceptionally well-established and knows exactly what it is doing. We won’t be teaching anyone how to suck eggs, just offering a well needed platform for authors, publishers and for readers of all ages to find books they love.
How was the London Book Fair for you?
We had an excellent London Book Fair. Meeting with many interesting and interested people from major publishers to some exceptionally successful self-published authors.
Is visual media competing for print publishing, or are there two different audiences?
We are not competing on any level. We are offering a platform and acting as a conduit for publishing. BookTube will be made by people working in the publishing industry, so we are aware of the challenges it faces and have the same goals. There is a strong case for simpatico between what we are offering and what publishing needs. We both have the same audience at our heart and that is the reader, no matter what his or her age or ability.
How has the ‘digital revolution’ impacted publishing in your eyes?
There is no doubt that the impact of digital has democratised the industry to an extent. There are literally hundreds of thousands of authors who can now circumvent traditional publishers if they choose and self-publish. It has aloo pend the door for many independent publishing companies that may not have existed pre digital. The old adage that everyone has a book in them appears to be coming true. That’s not always a good thing as many of those books should have remained within but I strongly believe the good will rise to the top…eventually.
What are the biggest challenges in growing a startup?
Funding is always a challenge. Ensuring that there is cash flow to make things happen. Enthusiasm, ideas and creativity are all elements that have a cost associated. Startups need to ensure that they take the best of the ideas and funnel the enthusiasm in parallel with its financial standing.
What are the most rewarding things about it?
Seeing ideas come to fruition and delivering something people want. If we can bring to the screen our vision and enthusiasm, then I think BookTube will be a totally fresh TV and Online show that has been needed by readers for years.
What tips would you give to someone starting their own business in the publishing world?
It totally depends on what that business is. All businesses should do their groundwork, their research, they should know where their market is, who their audience is. Prepare for success because success won’t come by accident, only by hard work and commitment and being unafraid of failure.

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