After nearly a decade of digital transition, publishers are beginning to mark
how far they’ve traveled. This year’s IDPF Digital Book 2015 offered assessments from publishing startups such as Michael Bhaskar’s Canelo Publishing and from publishing veterans like Bloomsbury publishing director Richard Charkin, and Macmillan Education CEO Ken Michaels.
Speakers grappled with the concept of “Putting
Readers First”—the new mantra of publishing in
the digital age—and offered reactions to this new
mandate and how it has been integrated into their
Bhaskar, Canelo’s publishing director, examined
the rise of the term “curation” and how it shapes
the views of a new generation of publishing startups. Bhaskar claims that the process of curation
—“selecting and arranging to add value”—defines
book publishing and market power today and in
the future. He claims that overproduction—he says
e-books and the rise of self-publishing have left us
awash in books no one wants to read—has shifted
the power in the book market to readers.
Bloomsbury’s Charkin opened his presentation—“Can We Put Readers
First on a Global Scale?—” by announcing that he disagreed with Bhaskar.
“The power in publishing has moved to authors,” he said. Charkin emphasized that the real change has been away from “serving retailers” to understanding that “authors are our customers.” Charkin acknowledges the
importance of readers, while also understanding that during a time when
authors have a variety of options to publish directly to readers, publishers
need to focus on authors if they expect to keep them.
Probably the best illustration of engaging readers in new ways came from
author and game designer Jane McGonigal (Reality Is Broken: Why Games
Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World and the forthcoming
Super Better). She described how gaming produces certain emotions that
traditional book reading, arguably, does not.
For example, she discussed a 2011 gaming project she produced, in partnership with the New York Public Library, called Find the Future, based on
the familiar NYPL Schwarzman Building. The game was played by 500 teenagers, who spent the night in the library looking for 100 objects that were
hidden in books and displays, and tagged with QR codes; students searched
for the items (using mobile phones) and wrote short passages about them.
These were then collected to create a mammoth book with more than 1,180
stories that was printed and bound on the premises that night.
The executive panel, themed “Taking It to the Reader,” moderated by PW
editor-in-chief Jim Milliot, also surveyed the new publishing landscape and
a new social phobia called, “nomophobia,” said Macmillan Education CEO
Ken Michaels, who defined it as “the fear of being without a wireless mobile
devices, of being unconnected.” We live, he said, in a publishing age where
everything must be available on every device and in every channel: “tagged,
transportable, and relevant.”
Chantal Restivo-Alessi, HarperCollins chief digital officer, and Liz Perl,
S&S chief marketing officer, added updates on the transformation of digital
buzz concepts into workflows and tools in their businesses. Once again,
authors were primary. “We’re here to serve authors, not just the consumer,”
Restivo-Alessi said. But she noted the importance of taking risks (in print
and digital) on new business models, like subscription e-books. “We need to
be honest about what works and what doesn’t. We can measure everything
now, so we have to be honest and learn from mistakes.”
Perl emphasized that the big publishers are “not dinosaurs. Everybody
gets it. We want to reach readers.” Leaving Bill McCoy, IDPF executive
director, to close the morning session with “if publishers are dinosaurs,
they’re evolving.” —Calvin Reid
Drawing some of the biggest names in the business and focusing on the
changing nature of the industry, the 21st annual Audio Publishers Association Conference kicked off yesterday morning.
“Technology has changed our industry a lot—recording at home, more
recordings happening, business models changing—so, it’s really all about
being prepared for what those changes mean,” said APA executive director
Michele Cobb about this year’s programming. “We’re trying to give tips as
the industry changes, as technology changes, on what you can do to roll with
A keynote address titled “Nailing Loyalty in the Era of the Mobile, Social,
& ADHD Customer,” from entrepreneur and marketing guru Peter Shank-man, and a panel on securing coverage by building relationships with
reviewers were just the start of a packed day dedicated to all things audio.
Steve Smith, publisher at Oasis Audio, praised Shankman’s keynote and
its focus on engaging with current customers and generating new clients.
“It was a great motivator to start the day,” Smith said. “We have to focus on
what our customers want. That’s one of the things I want to learn more
about at this conference, and [Shankman] addressed that right away.”
This year’s conference hosted panels on topics ranging from social media
and online video strategy to consumer behavior and narration best prac-
tices. Among the highlights were sessions on building and maintaining a
career in the audio industry; the habits of successful narrators; and the
importance of authors, narrators, and publishers working together to pro-
mote new releases.
According to Anthony Goff, v-p and publisher at Hachette Audio, a key
part of APAC is the networking opportunities: “It’s a major part for me to
come to this show and see people reconnect with people and hear some of
the latest things people are trying to do to keep the growth alive and well,
and really just celebrate audio for a couple of hours.”
THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2015 BEA SHOW DAILY
Tony Di Terlizzi and Mo Willems take a break from signing copies of The Story of Diva and Flea at the Hyperion
A panel moderated by PW’s Calvin Reid previewed the fall’s big
graphic novels. (l.–r.): Reid; Derf
Backderf, author of Trashed
(Abrams ComicArts); Jeremy
Sorese, author of Curveball
(Nobrow); Ben Hatke, author of
Little Robot (First Second);
Maggie Thrash, author of the
graphic memoir Honor Girl (
The HarperCollins booth, near the front gates, got busy
immediately after the show floor opened.
Librarians took advantage of the PW
Librarians’ Lounge on Wednesday to relax, pick up
galleys, and meet authors. (r.–l.): Marie
Beesley, head of circulation, Charlton Public
Library, Charlton, Mass.; Cheryl Hansen,
director, Charlton Public Library, Charlton,
Mass.; Lauri Taylor, author of The Accidental Truth.
The big show is here. And here’s how you can use PW to get the most out of
your BookExpo experience:
● Read PW Show Daily, the official news publication of BEA. You can pick
up a print copy for free at the Javits, or read it online at digitalpw.com.
● Stop by PW’s booth (1852) to pick up recent issues of PW and talk with
members of PW’s editorial and business staff.
● Librarians: make sure to visit the Librarians’ Lounge in room R420. We’ll
have food and drinks, galley giveaways (no lines!), daily raffles, author
meet and greets, and more.
● We’ll also be at BookCon in booth 3276, and we’ll publish
PW Show Daily BookCon on both Saturday and Sunday.
● And, of course, you can keep up with all the show news at
The Dinosaurs Are Evolving
Listen Well and Carefully