Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
I joined the Digital Book World team just weeks before the 2014 Conference + Expo kicked off in New York City last year. A few days ahead of the event, I wrote about my expectations for the three days of programming in terms of how they’d offer publishing professionals the resources to improve what they do, both on an individual and industry-wide basis.
As I covered the conference, my expectations were exceeded by the breadth and depth of ideas being offered up and shared around. It was an exhilarating introduction to the publishing industry’s changing ecosystem.
Nearly a year later, the business has undergone another round of remarkable transformations, and the 2015 conference agenda has changed with it to continue offering publishers, authors and digital content professionals the tools to improve their work and push the industry forward.
That’s arguably a more complicated undertaking than it has ever been. The way readers discover, buy and consume books is in many ways different now than even a year ago. Ebook subscription services, from start-ups like Oyster and Scribd to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, have expanded by virtually every measure, both in North American and overseas. Barnes & Noble’s Nook business has declined dramatically and appears poised to be sold off. Meanwhile Hachette’s standoff with Amazon over profit margins–by way of ebook prices–grinds on into its fifth month.
Digital Book World 2015 again offers a wide spectrum of big-picture insights and technical resources for publishers navigating the challenges and opportunities that those changes present. This year’s agenda boasts more programming on a wider variety of topics than any previous one. It includes new subject-area tracks, making for two consecutive afternoons of sessions focused on marketing, technology, data, education, global markets, business models and managing transformation.
In addition, the Publishers Launch Kids conference on Tuesday will debut the latest research on the children’s market, while concurrent sessions on mobile strategy, metadata, technology and more will provide further training in each of those fields. The conference’s focus on digital production also widens this year to include two days of workshops dedicated to the latest software, workflow, distribution and other technical aspects of digital publishing.
The lineup of industry leaders gathering at Digital Book World 2015 is likewise unparalleled, making it the premier venue for hearing directly from the full array of individuals and organizations steering the book business’s course. HarperCollins, for instance, is taking bold steps to develop a direct-sales program, and the publisher’s CEO Brian Murray joins the conference on Thursday to deliver a keynote on digital strategy.
That same morning, leading data strategist and founder of Fast Forward Labs Hilary Mason will tackle data insight implementation for publishers of all sizes. She’ll then trade the stage with Kindle SVP Russ Grandinetti for a frank roundtable discussion with Conference Chair Mike Shatzkin and Publishers Lunch founder Michael Cader on Amazon’s position in book publishing’s present and future. Squidoo founder Seth Godin and Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson will also join the main stage to discuss the what’s next in digital innovation.
They’ll have plenty to talk about, to be sure. Just under a year into my tenure at Digital Book World, it sometimes surprises me that I haven’t been here longer; so much has happened in the publishing industry since last year’s conference that an occasional sense of whiplash is almost inevitable.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But if publishers are to be kept on their toes, they’ll also need to be kept up to speed. That need is more urgent than ever, and the Digital Book World conference has never been better suited to fulfill it. Check out the complete lineup of speakers and events here. And if you’re considering joining the action in January, don’t wait to grab your ticket; space is filling up fast and today is the last day to take advantage of early-bird pricing.