By Richard Curtis, President of Richard Curtis Associates, Inc.; founder of E-Reads
After the eruption of Iceland’s unpronounceable volcano disrupted the London Book Fair last month, Publishing Perspectives’ editor Ed Nawotka wondered why “no one is trying to find a way to teleconference people in or to schedule online chats,” and asked if there was any interest in a virtual book conference.
This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.
Technology and bandwidth have advanced to the point where it is entirely feasible to mount a virtual trade conference, one that would be fully participatory for traditional and e-book publishers, booksellers, librarians, educators, literary agents, authors, book-related exhibitors and their technology counterparts – plus the most important attendee of them all, readers; all from the comfort of their homes, offices or commute. Virtual trade shows are a common practice in many other industries, and there have already been a couple of virtual book fairs including Virtual Children’s Book Fair and the Poisoned Pen Mystery Writers conference which included a number of live and on-demand webcasts of “more than 50 panels and presentations featuring over 65 mystery and crime authors.”
While both examples are relatively modest, it proves it could be done, and the model can be scaled upwards for a full-fledged virtual book expo that participants could attend in their bathrobes!
While the main event itself could be of short duration, it could easily morph into a 24/7/365 marketplace centered around books and authors, publishers, booksellers, bloggers AND readers; a kind of “Second Life” for the book publishing industry. It could be a combination website, bazaar, and social gaming environment where real business is done, books are bought and sold, but with a high fun quotient limited only by the technical skills of art departments, web designers and graphic artists, and the boundless imagination of the publishing industry.
What do you think? Is publishing ready to go beyond eBooks and take the digital transition to the next level?
Richard Curtis, president of Richard Curtis Associates, Inc., is a leading New York literary agent; founder of E-Reads, an electronic book publisher; and a well-known author advocate. He is also the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction including several books about the publishing industry and is a former president of the Association of Authors’ Representatives.