By Guy LeCharles Gonzalez
“There needs to be a greater understanding of what the differences are between a computer software manual and a fiction bestseller. I’d like to see more of a consumer publishing perspective.”
–Sara Lloyd, Digital Director, Pan Macmillan
Today’s edition of The Bookseller Daily reports that “some publishers” considered the Tools of Change Frankfurt conference a “‘missed opportunity’, geared more towards programmers than publishers.”
Lloyd, the opening keynote speaker at the conference, was quoted as calling for “more of a consumer publishing perspective,” while Fionnuala Duggan, Director of Random House Group Digital added: “The piracy issue was dealt with very poorly.” Noted anti-DRM advocate Cory Doctorow forcefully spoke out against DRM in his provocative keynote speech, suggesting publishers were “the real pirates” for their approach to DRM.
I attended the event and while Lloyd and Duggan’s opinions were shared by others, Tools of Change takes a broader view by design, and to be fair, there were some highlights relevant to consumer publishers during the event, including Sourcebooks CEO Dominique Raccah’s presentation on transforming the traditional publishing business model, which offered specific examples and lessons learned from her own experiments.
Raccah suggested publishers ask themselves, “What communities are you an essential part of?” while noting the Sourcebooks philosophy: “We publish authors, not books.” She also recommended publishers experiment with different products AND business models, warning them to “stay focused… You have to get comfortable with not knowing what’s going to happen on the other side.”
Perhaps most notably, while eBooks were a major focus of the conference, with publisher (and event organizer) O’Reilly noting that some of their ebooks (and iPhone app) sales were double that of print for certain books, a stat-filled presentation by Commercial Director of Nielsen Book noted that “the impact of ebooks will vary greatly by genre and demographics.”
Ultimately, the challenges consumer publishers face are unique and varied, as are the opportunities, near and long-term.
In January, Digital Book World will address many of those challenges and opportunities presented by the latest technologies and readers’ changing habits, specifically from the consumer publishing perspective; it is the first conference of its kind designed to help consumer publishers maximize their assets in the short term while developing and executing a digital strategy.
The conference program was developed by Mike Shatzkin, Conference Chair, and founder & CEO of The Idea Logical Company, and an esteemed advisory board including some of the most insightful thought-leaders focused on book publishing and technology.
Where other conferences focus on the latest trends and technologies, DBW 2010 will put them in perspective—speaking directly to book publishers and their trading partners to address both immediate needs and future goals to not only survive, but thrive in the rapidly changing world of book publishing.