From Digital Book World:
This Thursday, UK trade publication “The Bookseller” held its annual Futurebook conference, which was well attended not by book sellers, but by publishers.
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Compared to earlier years there was a noticeable shift in thinking and strategy in evidence at most publishing houses. Digital is no longer that strange thing that might not catch on and it is also no longer that thing that is a small part of the business. No ebooks have gone from being treated as an “early adopter” phenomenon to being an mainstream trend, or in the language of Geoffrey Moore, “Publishers have crossed the digital chasm”.
What was noticeable at the Futurebook conference is how completely not only ebooks, but digital tools of all kinds, be it digital marketing, digital workflow and other digital tools have penetrated all departments at publishers (though still in very crude form in many instances). The digital department is in the words of Sarah Lloyd from Pan Macmillan UK now the “R&D” department. This is a rather major change to earlier years.
This is not to say that publishers are suddenly moving at Internet speed. George Walkley from Hachette UK described how coping with Excel spreadsheets (Excel!!) is still a daily nightmare in the monthly effort (forget real-time) to collate, organize and mine sales data for interesting insights (and one presumes even for humdrum royalty reports).
. . . .
Faber & Faber publisher (or CEO if you prefer) Stephen Page described the past 5 years as the “easy” years of the digital transition with a mountain still ahead. However, the “big ideas” session that he chaired did not exactly suggest a similar outlook among fellow publishers. One did get a feeling that many think they are in a “golden age” right now with plain selling and a smooth ride ahead.
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There were two interesting, but opposing notions during the “big Ideas” session of The Bookseller’s “Futurebook” conference this Thursday:
– Publish fewer, but better books
– Publish books faster
The thesis of “slower, but better” came from Jamie Bing, Managing Director at Canongate – a Scottish indie publisher, who told attendees that Canongate had reduced its output from 78 to 40 titles per year and that he would like to reduce it further to 20 titles per year, so that every book would get twice the attention and be twice as good.
. . . .
Book publishing today is based on the way books traditionally reached physical book sellers. First there is a sale conference highlighting upcoming titles, then buyers for book stores (especially at the all-important major chains) decide what to order when budgets get allocated for books to be received and showcased six months later. No wonder that it takes 12 months and more to publish a (physical) book, though almost every publisher has a case study of how they got a topical book out in 2 weeks or less. It can be done, but in the age of ebooks, it is still printed books and the traditional way of doing business that dictates how the publishing pipeline works and how a publication date for both formats is set. This is slooooow publishing.
Link to the rest at Digital Book World
PG has attended gobs of conferences during his legal and business career, some good, some not so good, and has spoken at quite a few. To him, publishing conferences sound like water torture.
And, by the way, when your royalty reports are wrong, you have only Excel to blame.