Becoming A Trailblazer with Srishti Kadu: 5 Minute Interview

Becoming A Trailblazer with Srishti Kadu: 5 Minute Interview

The Trailblazer Awards, supported by the Society of Young Publishers and BookBrunch, celebrate the next generation of the UK publishing industry.  

This year’s winners are each blazing an inspirational trail. Find out more about our 2022 Trailblazers – up next is Srishti Kadu.

Srishti moved to the UK from Mumbai, India, to study English Literature and Creative Writing at Lancaster University. She ran the University’s ‘Flash Literary Journal’, which was an online-only journal at the time, but Srishti successfully pitched for funding, bringing the publication into print for the first time.

After graduating, she worked as a Book Design and Publishing Assistant at Carnegie Publishing. She made local news as a winner of the Print Futures Award, run by the Printing Charity.

Moving to Taylor and Francis in 2020, she confidently secured a full-time position (despite a company-wide hiring pause during the pandemic). Subsequently, she joined the board of the SYP InPrint Magazine. 

She is currently a Procurement Controller in the Books Publishing Services team at Taylor & Francis, working closely with printers and production teams to ensure their books are available globally. She is also an SYP UK mentor and an LU Careers Mentor.

What did it mean to win an LBF Trailblazer Award?

Winning an LBF Trailblazer Award has been my career’s highlight so far. I am humbled to be recognised along with some truly amazing and talented individuals in the industry. When I started my journey in the publishing industry, I was an international student in the UK with no contacts and no idea of where to start, so it has been an honour to be recognised. 

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In your opinion, what impact did the pandemic have on bookshops/the publishing industry, and what are your predictions for their/its future?

The pandemic seems to have accelerated trends that we were already seeing in the publishing industry – in terms of working from home, printing lower quantities/relying more on Print-on-Demand (POD), and adapting to the market by becoming flexible and accessible.

There was a lot of strain on the supply chains, which forced many publishers to think more creatively, print closer to where the demand was coming from and adapt their business models to survive.

The shift to POD might be here to stay as the quality is as good as you get with digital print runs. With POD, you can also print closer to where the order was placed, cutting down on emissions.  

Tell us what you do in 20 words.

I work with production teams and printers to ensure our books adhere to our high standards and are available globally. 

What do you love about your career? 

Every day brings a new challenge when you work in procurement. I love the analytical (almost detective-like) skills you need to creatively solve problems that arise when it comes to the printing and supply of books. It is interesting to visit printers and learn how the books are physically made. The social aspect of liaising with editorial and production staff and printers is a unique role that enables me to communicate requests and technical notes to both sides in a way that makes sense to everyone. 

What was your first job in the book industry?

My first job was a short internship I did in Mumbai at Indian Express, working with their Travel and Hospitality team. They published a monthly magazine, and it was an excellent place to learn how the different teams work together and get a peek at the day-to-day life of an editor. 

What was the last book you read, and where did you buy it?

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I picked it up at a bookshop at the airport, as I didn’t have anything at home to take with me on my holiday. A friend mentioned it a few months ago, and I spotted it in the bookshop window and felt I had to get it. It was a great read! Very easy to slip into that world, and I love the idea of a great big library that preserves a copy of all the forgotten books in the world. 

Which writer would you have loved to have met and why?

I hope this is still possible in the future, as I’d love to meet Philip Pullman. His Dark Materials is one of my favourite series of all time. I wouldn’t say it’s what prompted me to move to Oxford – but it was definitely a factor! Walking around Oxford, I catch glimpses of street names that are characters in the books and places that were written about in Lyra’s Oxford. It would be great to meet the mind that came up with such a complex and beautiful world. 

Which is your favourite bookshop or e-bookstore and why?

There was a lovely bookstore in Mumbai where I grew up called Crossword. They had a big store in South Mumbai with a small café inside, so it always smelled of new books and cake – which was all I really needed at that age. There were cosy armchairs and quiet reading nooks where you could sit down and read the books you purchased. I have fond memories of going there with a friend and spending the entire day browsing and reading books on the comfy armchairs, taking breaks only to go and eat some cake.  

Has a book ever changed your life?

Many books have shaped who I am today. The ones that had the most impact were probably those I read as a teenager. There is something about being that age and going through stressful things at school or home that when you find a book you resonate with, it stays with you for a long time.

As a kid, the Enid Blyton Far Away Tree books were my favourite and perhaps what instilled in me a sense of adventure and wanting to travel to distant lands. As a teenager, the YA dystopian novel Divergent by Veronica Roth greatly impacted my life and encouraged me to take risks and get out of my comfort zone. 

If you’ve been to a London Book Fair, what do you love about the fair? And what piece of advice would you give first-timers?

This year was my first year at LBF. It was the first in-person LBF after the pandemic and seeing the industry come together after so long was great.

For first-timers, I would say if you’re there by yourself, have a good look through the events and panel discussions going on. It is a great way to make new contacts in the industry.

A lot is going on at the fair, so do your research beforehand, so you don’t miss out on something important to you. Oh, and be prepared to get a little bit lost in the maze of stands, so keep that in mind if you need to be anywhere at any particular time! 

Read more Trailblazer Awards 5-minute interviews.

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