Porter Anderson wrote a long article, summing up the recently concluded Digital Book World 2013 Conference. It’s hard to create an extract from an article like this that is full of quotes and links from folks who were at the conference. I’m going pull out a few parts where Porter Anderson contributes his unique point of view. I encourage folks to go read the whole thing at Writing on the Ether, Anderson’s corner at Jane Friedman’s place. I will intersperse a bit of my own commentary as well, even though I only followed the conference on Twitter (#DBW13). :
Not that I would ever butt in on a conversation.
But here was Mike Shatzkin, the endlessly energetic chairman of Digital Book World Without End (it was that time of day), patiently explaining late Wednesday to an associate a key difference between DBW and the other major US publishing conference each year, O’Reilly Media’s Tools of Change (TOC).
“Mike,” I said, stepping in with my two cents. “Your conference is a point of view, your point of view.”
It’s not a bad thing that DBW reflects Shatzkin’s point of view.
He’s backed by a large council of industry folks and by conference producer F+W Media’s hard-working staff and engaged, welcoming leadership, David Nussbaum and David Blansfield.
DBW (like Shatzkin’s highly praised, sold-out Children’s Publishing Goes Digital pre-conference program on Tuesday) is animated by the unified, considered Shatskinian viewpoint.
And this doesn’t mean that DBW is a his-way-or-the-highway affair, either. There’s debate—maybe more controlled explosion than wildfire, but debate.
This is the key context for the conference. This conference represents the “industry people who are serious about digital” POV. Here’s how Anderson compares it to O’Reilly’s Tools of Change Conference:
Nor does it mean that you won’t find a robust and superb point of view at TOC. In fact, you’ll find many POVs there. If DBW glows with the half-century of institutional memory that guides Shatzkin’s programming, TOC crackles with edgy peeks around corners and exhilarating leaps into the light of new understandings.
But here is where this doing of DBW is so interesting. If DBW is that statement, that expression of a POV on the industry, the real challenge for those of us watching is to take it onboard authentically.
I wonder if we are when I hear so many folks grabbing onto the phrase “settling” or “settling out,” as in a suggestion here and there that ebook pricing may be soon “settling out”—or that CEOs may be so upbeat on how the digital transition is going that they think things will soon “settle” for publishing.
“Settling out” may be wishful thinking. And “nobody dast blame these people,” to paraphrase Charley in Death of a Salesman. It’s been a long, exhausting digital disruption. We’d all like to see it “settle out.” Right now would be good.
But every time you hear one of our fine presenters slip in one of those “settling out” moments, I want you to ask yourself what else you’re hearing.
I can tell you what I hear. I hear an industry in denial. Far from “settling out”, the digital disruption has barely started. The digital disruption is exhausting only if you are fighting it. It’s invigorating to be part of it.
The very last thing DBW13 item in the column was about piracy. Anderson points to (my blogging colleague) Jeremy Greenfield’s report on a presentation about the impact of piracy on digital content. The difference between Hugh Howey’s attitude and the presentation explain why so many folks find the digital disruption exhausting. Applying the hard-earned lessons from the world of scarce, expensive content to the new networked world of abundant content will drive you to distraction.