As background information, the Digital Book World Conference has been sold to Score Publishing. This post is written by the CEO of Score.
From Talking New Media:
We live in a world where everyone individually, and every organization collectively, is a publisher. Whether it’s full-blown books, or case studies and white papers, or long-form content on the web, audio content like audiobooks and podcasts, multi-modal content like interactive books and mixed-media works, and much more. We’re a publisher nation.
Digital Book World has a rich legacy of influence and impact. We will be making a variety of changes that will seek to build on this foundation of success.
In the weeks and months to come, we will be reaching out far and wide to partner with anyone and everyone we believe has value to the vast community of publishers. Expect to see some surprising and valuable alliances as we re-tool DBW.
. . . .
Publishers right now are trying to decipher how best to bring existing content into a world where people interact with computers with their voice first, and keyboards and screens second. Amidst a raft of technologies impacting old media and new media which we’ll explore at Digital Book World, this sea change to voice computing – yes, led by Amazon – will sit front and center.
Link to the rest at Talking New Media
PG has attended an enormous number of conferences and conventions, including many gatherings of lawyers and technology folk.
He has received valuable information from the legal gatherings although most of his continuing legal education these days is online, usually in the form of recorded talks by lawyers and panel discussions of lawyers provided at various physical conferences and gatherings. Speakers are almost universally comprised of a few highly-specialized attorneys. Some of these sessions are provided entirely online with no associated physical gathering.
Depending upon the technology, there is often a lot more show instead of just telling at technology conferences. For example the Adobe MAX conference, sponsored by the creators of Photoshop, Lightroom and a zillion other products focused on visual creativity is happening right now.
Suffice to say, the visuals at the Adobe conference are more interesting than a table with a white tablecloth behind which a few men and women in business dress are sitting, which is the typical visual element at virtually all lawyers’ conferences. 99% of Powerpoint presentations in such settings are boring and the rest have goofy animations, transitions, etc., that a 14-year-old could improve.
However, major keynotes and new product announcements – typically the biggest draws at a tech conference – are usually streamed live and recorded for later viewing at no cost. For PG’s level of engagement with Adobe, those provide all the information he might be seeking plus much more without attending the conference.
PG has attended a handful of conferences for authors/publishers and, based on that limited experience, suggests that these conferences are visually and structurally, very similar to legal conferences (and even worse than some legal conferences). He hasn’t seen anything like the show Adobe presents.
The reason that the Digital Book World conference has been sold by its prior owner is that conference attendance fees plus fees charged to vendors to set up booths, tables, etc., don’t cover the costs of putting on a conference. PG won’t bore you with the details, but costs are substantial, particularly if the conference takes place in a serious conference setting like San Francisco, New York or Las Vegas.
Most of the revenue a conference like Digital Book World will receive likely comes from attendees who aren’t paying their own way, like publishing executives and employees, plus the afore-mentioned vendors who want to sell products and services to publishers and, to a lesser extent, authors.
What the sale of Digital Book World tells PG is that the complacency of traditional publishers toward ebook sales means those publishers have less interest in cool new ebook technology. At a fundamental level, a publisher needs to convert an electronic manuscript into an ebook and send the resulting file to Amazon, Apple, etc. That conversion probably takes place at the same time the physical books are typeset and is a low-cost offshoot of that operation. That’s pretty much the end of modern digital technology in their operations.
The idea that large publishers would be interested in cool new types of ebooks supported by innovative tech was always a long-shot. Remember, publishers are run mostly by English majors and accountants. Any tech innovators who might have mistakenly believed they had a potential career bringing publishers into the digital age have left for greener pastures by now.
PG says a technology conference for traditional publishing is on about the same level as a technology conference for beekeepers.