Archive for the ‘Sessions’ Category

by Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Director of Audience Development, Digital Book World

The year 2010 will undoubtedly be the year of “e,” but it’s not going to stand for e-book; it will stand for experimentation. Experimentation with contracts, rights, formats and distribution channels; experimentation that will certainly include e-books, and rightfully so, but they won’t be the central focus — for publishers nor readers.

Upon the Kindle’s introduction in 2007, Jeff Bezos famously asked: “The question is, can you improve upon something as highly evolved and well-suited to its task as the book? And if so, how?”

Three years, and at least five generations of technological evolution later, there is still no e-reader that comes close to duplicating the efficiency or practicality (or affordability) of the printed book, and while e-book sales are growing, they still represent a modest fraction of overall sales, and in many niches are completely irrelevant. Based on the offerings displayed at CES last week, it’s highly unlikely the mainstream tipping point will be forthcoming in the near future.

…read the entire post at Publishing Perspectives.

NOTE: One of the most anticipated sessions at Digital Book World is The eBook Tipping Point: The New Issues It Creates:

A panel featuring Michael Cader, Publishers Lunch; Larry Kirshbaum, Literary Agent; Ken Brooks, Cengage Learning; and Evan Schnittman, Oxford University Press. Moderated by Mike Shatzkin, The Idea Logical Company.

eBook sales are still a single-digit percentage of most trade publishers’ sales and only creep into double-digits for some of the new titles coming out. Even so, digital change has already been disruptive, forcing many publishers to rethink their release windows, their sales terms and tactics, and their entire approach to marketing.

One can only imagine what changes the industry will face when the eBook percentage doubles or triples from where it is now, which recent history suggests might occur in a relatively short time period. Library lending could threaten single copy sales, agents might be splitting off eBook rights when they make print deals, and territoriality might be eliminated in the digital book arena.

How will publishers react to all of that?

If you haven’t registered yet, what are you waiting for?

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eReader Frenzy Continues

Last week, Publishing Perspectives’ editor Edward Nawotka stirred up some controversy with his opinion that the current breed of eReaders were good enough, noting, “My septuagenarian mother is delighted with her first-generation Kindle.”

Yesterday, Brian O’Leary, Founder and Principal of Magellan Media, offered his own take on the frenzied buzz coming out of CES in a post, “Reader madness“, that he’s allowed us to repost here in its entirety:

A range of digital reading devices debuted (or hinted at debuting) at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, and the resulting hype convinced me that I should be the last person posting about them.

Then, a friend tweeted a link to a half-day e-reading conference (yes, another one).  The folks behind this conference had crunched the numbers and decided that by 2020, annual demand for e-ink readers would total 446 million units – about $25 billion in sales.  Not “total over ten years”, not “in use”: someone out there (with a straight face) wants me to spend $195 to entertain a claim that nearly half a billion e-readers will be sold in 2020.

No thanks.

There are lots of good things to say about current and possible e-reading solutions, to the extent that they are solutions and not just devices.  To hear those things, we need to stop gasping every time something new and shiny (or black) comes our way.

Matthew Bernius (a graduate student at Rochester Institute of Technology and co-director of the school’s Open Publishing Lab) offers a level-headed view of where e-reading may be headed.  With somewhat less analysis, Bonnier’s Sara Öhrvall offers her on-the-floor perspective, sparing us a breathless talk on the Coming Age of E-Books.

Similarly, Kirk Biglione offers a nuanced assessment of how the mythical Apple Tablet might well aid Amazon in the digital reading market.  It’s not always apparent where we’ll end up, or when we’ll get there.

To be clear, I do believe digital content consumption will grow, and the relative share of print-based content provision will fall.  I’m just not a fan of conclusions without data and predictions for the sake of having said it first.  It was a bad week for both, I am afraid.

Two weeks from now at Digital Book World, the Book Industry Study Group will offer the first look at data from their ongoing research project, “Consumer Attitudes toward eBook Reading”. The study is evaluating readers’ actual interest in and preferences for digital content, and the factors that influence their reading habits and purchasing decisions, and they will be presenting a selection of actionable data points from this pioneering research.

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by Susan Ruszala, Director of Marketing, NetGalley

Since NetGalley’s introduction nearly four years ago, there has been a distinct shift in the tenor and orientation of dialogues about digital galleys—not if, but when; not why, but how.

That’s good news.

Despite this shift, though, one of the major hurdles still ahead is the acceptance of digital galleys by professional readers and publishers.

Note: “Professional reader” signifies anyone who influences purchases by reading and recommending upcoming titles. This certainly includes traditional book reviewers, but also book and enthusiast bloggers, off-the-book page media (print, TV and radio), booksellers, librarians, and professors who request desk copies.

On the face of it, supporting both a print and digital galley process seems redundant. In our conversations with publishers, however, we often hear that print galley quantities are determined more by budget than by need; entire segments, such as the library or bookselling community — both avid recommenders within their own geographic area as well as more broadly online — cannot be served by the number of print galleys available to shrinking budgets. For illustrated titles, the need is even more acute as costs are higher.

Without question, print galleys will rightfully live on, but the digital galley can go further, faster, at less cost, and bulging with supporting materials that would be cost-prohibitive in print. Adopting digital galleys isn’t a one-for-one swap, then; it requires a shift in strategy and tactics. Print budgets will not be eliminated but they will change; and the use of the galley within the publishing house will have to change, too.

One way that change will manifest itself is by stretching the use of the galley across the company. Publishers will succeed when any activity that can result in a galley request—from librarians to trade advertising to traditional reviewers to electronic catalogs to international rights—can be fulfilled with a digital galley. If multiple groups in an organization can use the digital galley, costs are spread across the organization, too.

Digital galleys are not intended as a replacement for the print galley; in many cases digital will supplement and promote print. (Michael Cairns of Personanondata recently blogged about a JISC study which supports this claim.)

Think back to when company websites first became standard practice.

Before there was the corporate website, there was the corporate brochure. Carefully crafted, reflective of its values, glossy, and artistic — and also extraordinarily constrained, expensive to produce, and quickly outdated. Today my safe guess is that there are very few corporate brochures produced solely to deliver information about a company. They are marketing pieces designed to impress; more experiential than informational.

A website, on the other hand, delivers both a visual impression and deep information about a company; it is only limited by how easy it is for visitors to navigate the site.

This is exactly where we are with digital galleys.

The digital galley ostensibly delivers the “same” content to your contacts, but just as visitors to your website navigate your pages according to their specific needs, professional readers will do the same with your digital galleys. The digital galley isn’t limited to what you can afford to print, or are inclined to stuff in your jiffy bag. Off-the-book page media covering the subject of your book can browse and search; broadcast media can access previous author interviews; bookstores can view the author tour schedule; professors can preview a companion teacher’s guide.

Other areas of the publisher’s front office are already making the shift to digital in earnest. Many publishers have introduced digital catalogs to replace the printed tome that once hailed a new season, using solutions like Edelweiss, or by building their own digital catalogs.

Why not include the capability to browse the full-text galley from within that catalog? This is exactly what NetGalley will soon be doing with Edelweiss, as announced a few weeks ago.

The digital galley has a variety of tricks up its sleeve, for sure; but are the readers ready? Some publishers have said to us, “I’ve asked my contacts if they would prefer digital galleys, and they say no.”

So your contacts prefer print galleys. Of course they do! As a publicist charged with pitching a particular book for a particular season, I’d ferociously resist any tactic that might jeopardize an opportunity for coverage. Like the corporate brochure, the print galley represents the traditional and comfortable way to introduce your contacts to new content.

This is why limited experiments for a few titles have limited success. Besides fostering confusion (why can I get this title but not this one?), too small of an experiment won’t support the effort required to convert your contacts to a new concept. The use of digital galleys must be accompanied by internal evangelization and external communication, a responsibility that we at NetGalley share with the publishing community.

User confusion is also cited in the JISC study, and informally on blogs and social networks which note that navigation, user experience, digital rights management and reading devices can all be barriers to adopting digital galleys. Offering your contacts a consistent and user-oriented experience where they can get many titles the same way will only help speed adoption rates. This is true internally, too; the goal is for staff not to focus on the tricky terrain of security and multiple formats, but instead on offering the digital galley as easily as possible.

Savvy publishers are already using digital galleys creatively in their marketing, publicity and sales efforts, a groundswell that is really just beginning. We’re looking forward to sharing ideas with you on this topic at Digital Book World during the session, Digital Tools: How the Sales and Marketing Process is Changing.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

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by Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Director of Audience Development, Digital Book World

Judging from the activity on Twitter and the feedback I’ve gotten via email, yesterday’s webinar, Marketing in the Digital Age: Batteries Not Included, was a success!

Our panelists — Dan Blank, Director of Content Strategy & Development, Reed Business Information; Patrick Boegel, Director, Media Integration, Media Logic; Jane Friedman, Publisher & Editorial Director, Writer’s Digest Community; and Diana Vilibert, Web Editor, Marie Claire — were a diverse group, making my job moderatoring easy as each one of them brought a different perspective and some great insights to the discussion of how publishers can successfully engage with readers using social media tools.

The slides from the presentation have been made available via Slideshare, but they only give a hint of the great conversation that took place, so we’ll be making the full archive of the webinar shortly. [Now available here.]

Some personal highlights, filtered via our attendees tweets, included:

DaintyNinja: #dbw panelists don’t follow publishers on twitter – only authors, genres, and online community leaders

suzmccormick: Panelists say they follow those who are both entertaining and provide useful info on #Twitter #dbw

MaggieHilliard: Panelists playing “guess the publishers ” with popular books. No one knows or cares about editors/publishers–they should–lead tribes. #dbw

mikecane: RT: @NetGalley: wow – none of panelists know the publisher of Dan Brown! #dbw <– Wasn’t that MacRandomillanday?

MaggieHilliard: @DanBlank Less about broadcasting/interrupting, more about giving pple the option to listen to you. Social media is key to perm. mkting #dbw

MaggieHilliard: How can booksellers engage audience online? @DanBlank Don’t look for $ signs right way; build a channel/platform/community. #dbw

robertleebrewer: RT @thewritermama A blog is a destination, a book is a beautiful product. #DBW (Books are excellent gifts. URLs? Not so much.)

MaggieHilliard: How does that engagement strategy fit into “traditional” marketing/PR strategy? #dbw @DanBlank Listening is key

thewritermama: Authenticity=believe in your product, as first step. Build personal brand wisely. Focus on your niche (in my words). Fr @dianavilibert #DBW

vrleavitt: #dbw Where does blogging fit in to a writer’s carrer? @DianaVilibert – “A blog is another place where your potential readers are.”

thewritermama: Track results. Use analytics. Pay attention what happens after you start to engage. @patrickboegel #DBW

charabbott: “We see very clear correlation between tweeting and linking to info and sales of our products.” — @janefriedman #DBW

BethBookCoach: If you look for the $ sign right away, you’re missing the point. The bk is the marketing channel, the driver of credibility @danblank #dbw

ChristinaCastro: Listening/watching #dbw & discovered Suheir Hammad’s newest collection BREAKING POEMS http://bit.ly/191wlk (expand) I must get my hands on it! #books

austen_addict: Fave takeaway from Marketing in the Digital World webinar: be entertaining or point to useful info. Believe that was @janefriedman. Thx #dbw

ConsortiumBooks: Still chewing on the idea that publishers don’t “own” their customer relationships, intermediaries like Apple do @glecharles #dbw

lisamhawkins: #dbw Just took a Digital Book World webinar – valuable & useful info. Wish I could attend Jan NY conference.

Two of the more entertaining tangents that took off on Twitter were reactions to our panelists not knowing the publishers of all eight of the books I showed them, and that none of them owned a dedicated ereader, despite the fact that all owned at least one smartphone, and Jane noted she had the Kindle App on her iPhone. Tunnel-vision much?

To the first point, though, my goal with the selection of books I chose was to show that, for most readers, even those who work in publishing, the publisher is relatively unknown and not a major factor when choosing a book to read. Notable exceptions include Marvel and DC, whose banners are nearly as strong as their best-known characters, and some genre publishers, like Harlequin, TOR, Hay House, Chelsea Green, etc.

The common denominator: niche.

Try the quiz yourself. Go to Slide #18 and see how many publishers you can identify based on the books shown with Googling them. (Or Binging them. Equal time!) Bonus points if you’ve actually heard of all eight books, and a TRIPLE GOLD STAR if you can name half of the editors involved with them!

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As eBook sales continue to grow, many publishers are finding themselves in new and unfamiliar territory: What do readers want; which formats do they prefer; and how much are they willing to pay for digital content?

To answer these critical questions, the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) recently launched a research project, “Consumer Attitudes toward eBook Reading”, to evaluate readers’ actual interest in and preferences for digital content, and the factors that influence their reading habits and purchasing decisions. The initial look at the first round data from the ongoing survey will be presented at Digital Book World on January 27, 2010, as part of a morning program that will address the issue of eBooks: Opportunity or Threat?

“We’re delighted that BISG and RR Bowker chose Digital Book World to share the initial findings of this much-anticipated research,” says Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Director of Audience Development for Digital Book World. “The study comes at a critical time for publishers, and is a perfect fit for our overall program, which emphasizes fundamental strategies over individual channels and the latest tools. There’s far more speculation and punditry than hard data about eBooks, and the BISG/Bowker research will provide the kind of actionable data publishers can use to develop strategic plans that can be integrated and implemented today, not five years down the road.”

Earlier this month BISG launched a widespread U.S. Census-based survey of hundreds of actual e-book consumers. Over the course of nine months (Nov 2009 – July 2010), survey respondents are being asked a series of questions aimed at gathering an understanding of their real-time eBook purchase and reading habits. During the Today’s eBook Consumer session at Digital Book World, Angela Bole, BISG’s Deputy Executive Director, will introduce Kelly Gallagher, Vice President of Publishing Services, RR Bowker, who will share, for the first time, a selection of actionable data points from this pioneering research.

Find a schedule-at-a glance and learn more about Digital Book World programs and events and register by November 20 for a discounted early rate to the Conference at digitalbookworld.com or follow @digibookworld on Twitter or join the Digital Book World group on LinkedIn.

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