Introducing the 2011 SYP Oxford Committee

society of young publishers logoThis post is cross-posted from InDigital, the online magazine for the Society of Young Publishers. If you’d like to get involved with the SYP, join our Facebook groups (Oxford and UK). Anyone can join, regardless of age!

Who are the people behind the SYP? Here are some facts about the book-lovers who make up this year’s Oxford Committee…

Co-Chair: Chris Boor from beautiful Bury St. Edmunds in Sunny Suffolk
An Editor at Boardworks, working on products for the U.S. market – currently High School U.S. History.

Along with Polly, I’m the Co-Chair – the buck starts and stops here!

What do you most like about the SYP?
It’s cliché time, but it’s the people that make it worthwhile for me. That’s the committee, who all work so hard, the fantastic speakers we have, the many great people who make things a success, but most of all the awesome friends I’ve made through it.

In a dream world, if your publishing career could have enabled you to work on any book, what would it have been?
I’d like to have been Rayner Unwin. The idea that as a ten-year old his report was responsible for the publication of The Hobbit fascinates me. I’d love to have worked on that, not to mention the follow up. I’d love to have his insight too.

What was your favourite book as a child?
I always wanted to be Matilda. Make of that what you will.

Favourite author?
Just one? What a ridiculous question! Off the top of my head J.R.R. Tolkien, J.D. Salinger, John Steinbeck, Kazuo Ishiguro, Nick Hornby, Sylvia Plath, Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cormac McCarthy

What are you reading at the moment?
The City and the City by China Miéville and What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by Thomas Frank

What’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to books?
Buying too many of them. I’m trying to be good this year and use the library more (while I still have the chance – don’t get me started on the government’s cultural vandalism).

Favourite bookshop in Oxford?
I spend way too much time and money in most of them. I like the vibe and the selection in Albion Beatnik and I’m happy to get lost for hours in Blackwell. Overall I probably actually buy the most in Oxfam.

What section do you always head to first when you visit a bookshop/library?
I’ll usually have a look to see what’s in the charts or on display as I come in, but I’m generally drawn towards Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

Favourite reading spot in Oxford?
In the summer, pretty much anywhere outside – South Park or Bury Knowle Park are the most likely places. In the winter, there are few things finer than curling up in front of an open fire in a pub with a good book and a good pint. Overall though I probably do most of my reading in bed!

Co-chair: Polly Silk from London, raised in Oxford
Currently works as a Rights Assistant, Children’s and Educational division at Oxford University Press

Along with Chris, I share responsibility for the Oxford committee and make sure everything is ticking along nicely. We chair the committee meetings and generally oversee all SYP business, getting stuck in wherever we’re needed! We’re also always keen to hear our members’ suggestions about how we can improve SYP Oxford!

What do you most like about the SYP?
The SYP offers so many great opportunities to meet people who are passionate about publishing and to learn more about the industry. Plus there’s always a glass of wine or two on offer.

What was your favourite book as a child?
I hate picking favourites! To name a few – The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston, The Magician’s Nephew by C.S.Lewis and Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce. I was also a big Enid Blyton fan…

Favourite author?
Impossible!

What are you reading at the moment?
How I Live Now by Meg Rossof, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.

What’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to books?
I have a slight obsession with children’s picture books. Luckily, I work in a children’s books department so I can indulge this on a regular basis!

Oxford University Liaison Rep: Joanna Williams from Stratford-upon-Avon
Currently studying at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford University

I’m the point of contact for students and responsible for promoting SYP events around the university.

What was your favourite book as a child?
Anything by Roald Dahl – his books are endlessly entertaining.

What section do you always head to first when you visit a bookshop/library?
The foreign languages section (I am a French student).

Favourite reading spot in Oxford?
In winter, the Oxford Union library with its panelling and plush chairs; in summer, probably at Head of the River pub with a nice glass of wine.

Events organiser: Katie Lewis from the UK, and lived abroad quite a bit too
Currently working at Princeton University Press’s UK office in Oxfordshire

I arrange social events (parties, quizzes, competitions, networking, outings). Members can get in touch with me for any details about socials or to make a suggestion for a future event.

What do you most like about the SYP?
The opportunity to meet people you have a lot in common with who you might not otherwise have met.

In a dream world, if your publishing career could have enabled you to work on any book what would it have been?
I would love to have publicised either Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love or Ernst Gombrich’s A Little History of the World.

What was your favourite book as a child?
The Worst Witch

Favourite author?
Ken Follett

What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished One Day by David Nicholls, which I was given as part of World Book Night.

What’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to books?
I can spend hours poring over horse books, which surely I should have grown out of by now!?

Favourite bookshop in Oxford(shire)?
The Woodstock Bookshop and also Blackwell’s because it’s a gorgeous shop AND they let us use it as a venue for SYP events!

What section do you always head to first when you visit a bookshop/library?
The 3 for 2 trade section!

Favourite reading spot in Oxford?
The Missing Bean on Turl Street, if I can get a seat!

Events Organiser: Heather Benn from Canada
Currently works at Oxford University Press

I coordinate all the speaker events in Oxford and help to promote them alongside the rest of the team. Please get in touch with me if you have any feedback on Oxford speaker meetings or want to make suggestions. Just email oxford@thesyp.org.uk and our lovely Oxford Chairs will forward your email.

What are you currently reading?
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. And I’m planning to pick up Freedom as soon as I finish it!

What was your favourite book as a child?

Embarrassingly, the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I reread them over and over and coloured in all the pictures, despite the fact they were novels and I was about 10.

Favourite reading spot in Oxford?
The Fairway or the Quad at OUP! Perfect if you want some solitude on your lunch break.

Events organiser: Megan James from a village in South Wales
I currently work at Oxford University Press as a Marketing Assistant for Academic books (including maths, science, history, and economics titles).

As one of the social events organisers, my role involves thinking of new ideas for fun, friendly and exciting events… and then making these happen! We’ve had a huge welcome party which over 120 people attended, a literary themed pub quiz, and a professional networking traffic light party in Blackwell’s. Future events include a photography challenge, punting, and a barbeque. Oh and hopefully a rave in a bookshop later this year!

What do you most like about the SYP?
It’s a great way to meet new people if you’ve relocated for a publishing job, and a way to discover more about the industry.

What was your favourite book as a child?
Anything by Roald Dahl!

Favourite author?
Either Neil Gaiman or Virginia Woolf; I can’t decide between them.

What are you reading at the moment?
I always have a few books on the go. I’m reading a travel book by Colin Thubron, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young, and Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.

Conference Chair: Aaron O’Dowling-Keane from Cork, Ireland (with a couple of stopovers elsewhere)
Currently works as Assistant Publisher at Pambazuka Press, a progressive Pan-African publisher.

I’m responsible for organising this year’s SYP Conference in Oxford. If you have topics you want discussed, speakers you want to hear, a favourite sandwich you’d like for the lunch or want to be involved in any way, do drop me a line.

In a dream world, if your publishing career could have enabled you to work on any book what would it have been?
If I could have worked on any book it would have to have been Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, note to self: learn Spanish.

What was your favourite book as a child?
Roald Dahl’s Matilda, I was a brown haired little girl who loved to read and often came close to migraine trying to move things with my mind.

What are you reading at the moment?
Rereading Philip Pullman’s The Subtle Knife, now that I live in Oxford their worlds have taken on a different shape.

What’s your favourite reading spot?

The Tube – or anywhere that’s warm with seating…

Marketing and Publicity: Brianna Corbett from the USA
Works with eBooks and digital things.

I update the website and events listings and help out wherever I can.

What do you most like about the SYP?
I love having the chance to hear from professionals working in the industry and being able to meet and socialise with others who share a passion for publishing.

In a dream world, if your publishing career could have enabled you to work on any book what would it have been?

Five years ago I may have said Les Misérables by Victor Hugo as it was the greatest thing I read when I was in my teens (greatest as in largest by volume and full of humanity). Now I’m not sure. It must have been exciting to publish something like Thomas Paine’s Common Sense or Kate Chopin’s The Awakening because they challenged people to think for themselves and question the world around them. I’d like to publish books which confront people with possibilities.

What was your favourite book as a child?
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame… I also had a serious soft spot for adventure stories like Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe and Winnie-the-Pooh. The Mother Goose nursery stories also followed me around.

Favourite author?
I’m a huge fan of the classics, so I read a lot of Austen, Dickens, the Brontes and Victor Hugo as I grew up in my teens. Edgar Allan Poe, John Steinbeck, Mark Twain and Nathaniel Hawthorne all have a great place in my heart. Jack Kerouac, Sylvia Plath and Kurt Vonnegut make the list. Jasper Fforde is brilliant too.

What are you reading at the moment?
I just read both of Jonathan Franzen’s novels and loved them. Now I’m reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and I’ve got my eye on The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood.

What’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to books?

I like to skim through as I’m reading and jump to the last page and then go back to the part I’m actually reading. My Kindle doesn’t let me and I had a really hard time doing that when I read Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves!

Favourite reading spot in Oxford?

Any of the parks are great. I used to spend some time in South Park in the summer, but I find all the people distracting sometimes. Best days are spent lying in bed next to an open window with the sun shining in, a breeze blowing and a good book to spend time with.


Oxford Brookes Liaison Rep: Gemma Parsons from South Wales.

Currently studying an MA in publishing at Oxford Brookes University.

I am one of the Oxford Brookes student liaisons. We let the students on our course know who the SYP are, how they can help the students and what events the SYP are running. We also let the SYP know the best ways to cater to the student needs.

What do you most like about the SYP?
I like the SYP because it allows us (students) to see publishing from outside the context of our university course.

What are you reading at the moment?
Right now I am reading First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde,

Favourite author?
Probably Philip Pullman.

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