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Digital Book World speakers share eBook strategies and models

Back in September, Macmillan CEO John Sargent reported that pirated versions of 90% of Macmillan’s frontlist titles could be found online, stirring much conversation about what, if anything, the book publishing industry can do about piracy.

Timing of eBook releases, pricing and digital rights management are all topics that will be discussed at Digital Book World. The new conference on publishing and digital change will take place January 26-27, 2010 at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in New York City, and will offer consumer book publishers information and insights to enable them to craft strategies for adapting to, and embracing, digital change.

On the first day of Digital Book World, Brian Napack, President of Macmillan, will deliver a call to arms for publishers to fight what Macmillan sees as a mortal threat: piracy in the eBook space. In Digital Book Piracy: It’s Here. Let’s Deal with It, Napack will describe Macmillan’s view of what each publisher can do and what the industry should do to fight a problem, which, in his company’s view, could threaten the underpinnings of publishing as a commercial enterprise.

“There’s a big difference of opinion among digital thinkers about the impact of piracy and what can be done about it, but there’s not a lot of dispute in the big publishing houses that it is a threat to the core model of selling quality content,” says Mike Shatzkin, CEO of The Idea Logical Company and Digital Book World’s Conference Chair. “We’re delighted that Brian is willing to address this question head-on.”

“One of the new models being entertained by a number of fledgling enterprises and entrepreneurs is an ‘eBooks first’ strategy,” adds Shatzkin. “We recruited Raelene Gorlinsky to come talk about Ellora’s Cave, because they launched that strategy ten years ago and have been growing ever since.”

Gorlinsky, the Publisher at Ellora’s Cave, has plenty of experience in the eBook world. She will do a Q&A with Shatzkin on the second day of the conference reviewing the history of the “eBook first” company. During Ellora’s Cave: A Case History of a Different Publishing Model, Gorlinsky will describe Ellora’s Cave’s beginnings publishing PDFs for romance readers. She’ll share some of their very unusual practices such as delaying release of print editions to allow plenty of time for selling the eBook first; printing their books in their warehouse on demand; and paying royalty rates on a scale and frequency that would make conventional publishers squirm.

Join your peers at Digital Book World on January 26-27, 2010 at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers in New York City.

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A free webinar, presented by Digital Book World.

“In the social realm, there’s nothing better than true engagement between customers and brands (through the employees that represent them).”

Shiv Singh, VP and Global Social Media Lead for Razorfish

No conversation about publishing’s future and the importance of engaging readers directly is complete if it doesn’t include the perspective of the independent bookseller — our partners, curators and, most importantly, community organizers.

Indie Booksellers and the Digital Transition: Opportunity Knocks?“, a free webinar from Digital Book World, will address the challenges and opportunities ahead for independent booksellers, and what a digital future means for them.

  • Is it possible to compete with Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Wal-Mart?
  • What effect will publishers selling direct to consumers have?
  • Where do POD and ebooks fit in the picture?
  • How can social media be used to build a community, online and in-store?

Debbie Stier, SVP/Assoc. Publisher for HarperStudio and Dir. of Digital Marketing for HarperCollins will moderate a lively conversation with out panel of independent booksellers: Stephanie Anderson, WORD (Brooklyn), Patrick Brown, Vromans (Pasadena, CA), and Bridget Warren, Vertigo Books (College Park, MD)

Indie Booksellers and the Digital Transition: Opportunity Knocks?” will be held on Wednesday, December 9th @ 1 pm EST // 10am PST.

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Two new publishing initiatives are generating a lot of positive (dare I say, optimistic?) buzz right now, one for its innovative approach, the other for its sheer audacity.

Harlequin’s new division, Carina Press, is a digital-only imprint that will forgo both author advances and DRM, sell direct-to-consumers, and is surprisingly horizontal, promising “a broad range of fiction” including “romance… mystery, suspense and thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, erotica, gay/lesbian, and more!”

Malle Vallik, Director Digital Content & Social Media at Harlequin Enterprises Ltd, expressed her excitement about the new press by putting the print side of the business in perspective:

In the olden days when I used to edit print books, I would have been intrigued by this idea but I would also have been trying to fit it into an existing category. After all, I couldn’t just make up a category. Instead I would most likely have asked Jane to increase the romance, make the mystery more thriller-like or women-in-jeopardy type storyline and possibly move the story to Regency times.

But now I’m free. I can ask Jane to write the book she envisions and if I love it as much as she does then we’ll publish it. Our brilliant marketers will create a plan on how to sell it as a historical military mystery. Boo Yah!

Meanwhile, Sourcebooks publisher Dominique Raccah has launched a new digital initiative in perhaps the most unlikely of niches, at least from a financial perspective: poetry!

People definitely seem surprised that anyone would take on such an endeavor. We see PoetrySpeaks.com as a new business and marketing model for poets and poetry publishers, who very much need a better way of reaching their audiences…

Poetry Speaks (the book) sold 190,000 copies because it’s a GREAT book. You could watch people use the book and see how they were discovering new poets. They were hearing new things in the poets they already thought they knew. It was an incredibly useful tool for the discovery of poetry. We hope to make PoetrySpeaks.com that kind of a tool.

Raccah will be speaking about PoetrySpeaks.com at Digital Book World in January, offering an analysis of its first 90 days, and Don Linn – a publishing veteran who recently founded and quickly disbanded his epublishing initiative, Quartet Press – will be moderating a provocative panel discussion, “New Business Models: Changing the Commercial Rules of Publishing“, with Diane Naughton, HarperCollins; Richard Nash, Cursor; Eoin Purcell, Green Lamp Media; and Chris Morrow, Northshire Bookstore.

Contrary to what some believe, it’s an exciting time for the publishing industry.

What other new publishing initiatives are you excited about?

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Shiv Singh, Ad Age Media Maven and Social Media Expert at Razorfish, to Give Keynote Presentation at Digital Book Word 2010

Shiv Singh, an expert on digital strategy and social influence marketing, will be the opening keynote speaker at Digital Book World 2010.

A 2009 Ad Age Media Maven, Singh is the VP and Global Social Media Lead for Razorfish, an interactive agency that helps their clients innovate and build brands by creating engaging consumer experiences in the digital world. Singh advises clients such as Carnival Cruise Lines, Microsoft, Victoria’s Secret, MillerCoors, and Levi Strauss & Co. on social influence marketing—how to incorporate social media and social technologies to support marketing and business objectives.

Singh will speak on the first day of the Digital Book World conference, presented by F+W Media on January 26-27, 2010 at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers. Digital Book World 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.

“Shiv’s expertise in integrating social media into multi-channel marketing programs, combined with his leadership in helping organizations empower their employees and partners, makes him the perfect speaker to set the tone for our inaugural conference,” says Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Director of Audience Development for Digital Book World. “Shiv understands what it takes to engage and empower communities, and thanks to his hands-on experience with major consumer brands, his presentation will go beyond theory to provide successful examples and actionable takeaways.”

Shiv Singh has been published widely, and is frequently quoted in articles by The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Associated Press, Adweek, Ad Age and others discussing digital strategy and social influence marketing. His book Social Media Marketing for Dummies (Wiley) was just published this month.

Learn more about Digital Book World programs and events at digitalbookworld.com; register before November 15 to receive the discounted early registration rate.

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by Jesse S. McDougall, Published Author and Owner of Catalyst Webworks

The rise of social media presents new and powerful opportunities to book publishers. The millions of discussions taking place on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and across the blogosphere all thrive on the new content. Like in the real-world, the most popular discussions online are based on content that is original, edited, and expert—exactly the content that book publishers produce every day.

If done correctly, a publisher diving into the social media world will find:

  • a vibrant community of readers
  • a valuable word-of-mouth network
  • numerous market research opportunities
  • access to new media outlets for promotion
  • new audiences for books and authors

A strong social media presence takes time and a sustained effort to build. In light of this commitment, it is important that book publishers begin with a clear strategy that has proven results.

Here is a quick list of five steps publishers will need to take to launch a social media strategy:

Step One: Define Your Niche

It is important that you have a clear idea of your niche before you jump into social media. If you publish books spanning several niches, you should consider setting up a social media campaign for each niche in which you publish. For example, if you are a publisher of a wide range of political books, you know all too well already that your conservative audience does not want to learn about your progressive books, and vice versa. Likewise, if you are a cookbook publisher, your cocktail books likely won’t fly too well with your barbecue audience.

Drill down your efforts to a specific audience. Set up your strategies accordingly.

Step Two: Plan Your Content

The content you publish to your web site (see Step Three) and the social media platforms should not be promotional in nature (“Come read our latest book!”)—rather it should provide value to your audience in some way.

However, the content should ALWAYS link back to your book’s page and author’s page. This way, as the content travels around the blogosphere and the social media networks, your links travel with it.

Some quick content tips:

  • mine your author community for videos, op-eds, interviews, etc.
  • sidebars and callouts make great web content
  • numbered lists (i.e. top ten lists) play very well online

Step Three: Your Web Site

Your web site will serve as the hub of this new social media strategy. All the content you produce should flow through a blog on your web site first—unless, of course, you have exclusive deals with other popular blogs. Your web site will become a resource for anybody interested in your niche. If your blog isn’t the main page of your site, feature it prominently.

Make your content portable by integrating it with social media toolbars from Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc.

Step Four: Find and Listen to Your Audience

Once your blog is up and running, and the content is flowing through it, you should begin exploring the largest social media platforms for conversations related to your niche. Once you find people talking about your topic area, listen. For two weeks. Before jumping into the conversation, get an idea of the people involved, the social etiquette, and the opinion-makers.

When you do jump in, relax your marketing muscles. No one joins these networks for marketing messages. Establish your company the a valuable and friendly expert in the group. Point folks to helpful content from your blog.

Step Five: Go!

When you’ve finally got an idea of how all the various pieces work, you can begin engaging in your new community in earnest. Invite your authors into the discussions. Invite other passionate folks at the company. Stay friendly, and stay passionate about your niche. Your audience and community will grow over time. Good luck!

Jesse S. McDougall is a social media consultant and web programming geek, and co-owner of Catalyst Webworks—a web development and social media consulting firm in White River Junction, VT. Before launching Catalyst Webworks, Jesse was the Web Editor at Chelsea Green Publishing, where he built the company’s web site and online marketing strategies. He is the author of several books about internet ventures including Expand Your Business Using eBay and Start Your Own Blogging Business. He will be speaking on the panel How Publishers Can Build Their Own Communities: Using Social Media Tools at Digital Book World.

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