At the weekend I spoke at the Third International Conference on the Book at Oxford Brookes University and heard papers presented on 'the Artists' Book and Negative Space' by Australian artist Nola Farman whose own work - flicker books meet the haiku - was fascinating; public attitudes to coffeeshops in bookshops; the American right's attack on Harry Potter, and 'Bookscapes' - not our reader development project, but a paper "towards a conceptualisation of the Architectural Book" by Willem de Bruijn, a PHD student from the Netherlands. I spoke at a plenary session on 'Literacy, publishers and the media' with Boyd Tonkin, literary editor of the Independent, and the editor of the Kenyon Review who talked optimistically about the increasing cultural diversity of the authors and publishers of the USA .
It's amazing to go from the busking and winging it world of projects and funding proposals to the land of academe where people look so carefully into the quirkiest corners of thought. At Booktrust we want to spend more time looking at the bigger questions to which our projects are attempts at answers, for instance, what is the future of the book - who will write it and read it? what could it look like and how will it be distributed? This conference tackled that issue from every angle.