TOC is one of those conferences that is simultaneously exhilarating and depressing. Exhilarating because so many possibilities are gaily strewn across the immediate future like lights on a Christmas tree. Depressing because…when you get down to the nitty-gritty of implementation, that “immediate” future becomes further and further away. “Now” begins to look like next year. The glitter wears off the possibilities and they become work, just like everything else.
It’s an unnerving experience if you’re not prepared for it. And although this is TOC’s fourth incarnation, many publishers are still not prepared for it. Which seems to be part of O’Reilly’s job in this industry – to push the business past its comfort zone, even just for a couple of days. Enough pushing, the theory goes, and eventually what was unnerving last year is the way of doing business this year.
SBook publishers are a tough bunch to push. Conservative by nature, cautious to the bone, book publishers do not embrace change – and that’s putting it mildly. It was winter of 1999 when ONIX was adopted as a BISAC standard. It’s now 11 years later and…we are still lecturing publishers on the importance of good metadata (when it’s more important now than it was in 1999!).
This is a quality very difficult to explain to vendors who come into book publishing with great solutions, and who frequently leave book publishing with extreme disillusionment. Will book publishing ever move beyond ink-on-paper? (When it wants to.) Does it want to? (Not particularly.) Will it survive? (Yes.)
But O’Reilly’s right, and vendors need to pay attention. Looking back on the presentations for TOC 2009, many of the ideas offered up then have just begun to trickle out into the mainstream. Decent formatting for ebooks is a good idea. Social networking helps call attention to your titles. Women read loads of ebooks. Do consumer research. XML is a great tool that will help a publisher create books and other materials in any number of formats.
Vendors should not be discouraged by this seeming slowness – on the contrary, many publishers are only just now ready to hear what you have to say. There are so many of you who have such great tools – DAMs, editorial tools, production and XML tools, social media platforms, workflow management – and the emphasis on progress and innovation at TOC drives home the very points that you are making daily to prospective clients.
Yes, publishing is behind other entertainment industries – notably the music business, notably in issues like piracy and pricing. But it IS moving ahead. Maybe not under its own steam – recently, the mere fact of the Apple iPad led publishers into a strong enough position to finally negotiate with Amazon over ebook pricing – but it is being hauled, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.
Find it here. My lame notes are also included - I need to be tightly scripted or I'll come out with just about anything.
No, there is no other news this week. My poor daughter, who turns 9 on the 18th of this month, is watching her birthday get swallowed up in Harry Potter madness. It's all her friends can talk about. Meanwhile, we're scraping the bottom of the barrel here for book-tech news, but nobody's going to make product announcements this week.
The committee is chaired by Kent Freeman, of Ingram Digital Group, who's found himself in a Michael Corleone-esque position regarding BISAC: "Every time I try to get out, they keep pulling me back in!" Attendees ranged from Google/Microsoft to publishers (Random, Wiley), to service providers (Quality Solutions, FYI, Bowker, yrs truly) to distributors (Ingram). Peter Brantley of the Digital Library Federation also attended (by phone), as did Nick Bogaty of IDPF.
Essentially, Chris Hart of Random House discussed the issues he'd brought to AAP regarding digital distribution, and with his help the committee was able to divide issues into those around "discoverability" vs those around the actual content itself. Kent decided to keep us focused on discoverability and search at first, and gradually lead in to the sticky issues surrounding content delivery between trading partners.
Google presented its Book Crawl specification, which was really interesting but only in the beta-est of betas right now. All in all a terrific and informative meeting. You can join up here.
A POD machine can print 1 book in 5 minutes. A sales rate of 12 books per hour isn't going to keep a store in business strictly with POD - the store has to sell other inventory as well.
POD manufacturers can develop new efficiencies, products, etc. much better than a shop with a POD machine can. In other words, the idea of having your own POD machine might not be cost-efficient in the long run, when you can order the same book from Lightning Source, who next month might have features that make their print copy better than yours.
However, a POD machine like the Espresso will eventually cost about as much as a copy machine, and in fact can be hosted in office supply stores - people can order books and go pick them up at Kinko's or Staples. A proliferation of POD machines contributes to a proliferation of books - or at least, that's the thinking of some.
THE DOWNLOAD: - by industry consultant Laura Dawson
TIA - THIS ISSUE'S ACRONYM - BISAC/BISG
INTEL: COMPANIES - R. R. Bowker buys Medialab Solutions by Amsterdam
INTEL: PEOPLE - SirsiDynix names new CFO
THE JOB EXCHANGE - Listing the hottest jobs in the sector
"Amazon’s Kindle shows no sign of being born and the thundering hordes are not stampeding to buy Sony’s Reader.
Meanwhile, the digital revolution in publishing is happening…more or less around this e-book problem, the elephant in the living room.
As Mike Shatzkin et al told crowds at Klopotek’s Digital Asset Distribution conference last week – and as a host of panelists parsed at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change conference – publishing is taking a great leap forward into the realm of the technological.
(Well, there’s some argument as to whether publishing is leaping or being pushed, but that’s another column; I’ll let Jim Lichtenberg address that one.)
This, despite a viable e-book reader..."
Click here to access our newsletter archives and read the June 26, 2007 issue in full.
I have to say, the speech given by the valedictorian was ridiculously boring and predictable, and I wondered if this poor kid had sacrificed all personality and quirk to please his teachers and parents. He seemed to have nothing to bring to the podium but good grades. I've been listening to Seth Godin's "Small Is the New Big" on my iPod, and he elaborates a little on his Purple Cow theory - what differentiates you (or your company) from everybody else? How do you stand out and show that you are like no one else, so that people will notice you and hire you/buy your product - as opposed to hiring someone else or buying something else.
Once this kid gets out of school, his grades will be pretty meaningless. I hope he spends high school actually living a little and developing as a person...because that's ultimately what people will pay attention to and hire.
Meanwhile, I'll be in the park pretty much all day today, as both Miss Personality and her little sister have class picnics....I'm expecting reports from the DAD conference to trickle in and I'll be posting more next week.
At any rate, BISG has teamed with NISO to give a presentation at ALA on Friday. It's called "The Changing Standards Landscape: Creative Solutions to Your Information Problems", and essentially it will tackle how new developments in digital asset management and distribution are affecting the library world. In addition to Michael and Todd Carpenter of NISO, one of the speakers there will be Carolyn Pittis from Harper, who has given many presentations on how she's using new technologies (widgets, XML) to expose more Harper books to more people.
BookExpo America’s goal to become a “convention without walls” has become a reality with the announcement of its ambitious podcast and digital coverage of the recent trade event which took place in New York City, June 1 – 3. Podcast coverage of BEA has been a key part of an aggressive program to provide digital and online services and entertainment not only to book industry professionals, but to the general reading public as well. BEA put a dedicated podcast team in place during the convention which spread itself out to cover all aspects of the show in order to provide a record as well as a permanent history of the significant and entertaining content that the show provides.Get'cher podcast here.
THE DOWNLOAD: - by industry consultant Laura Dawson
TIA - THIS ISSUE'S ACRONYM - GDSN – Global Data Synchronization Network
INTEL: PRODUCTS - 979 ISBN prefixes on the horizon
INTEL: PEOPLE - Founder of Questia leaves to start new project
THE JOB EXCHANGE - Listing the hottest jobs in the sector
"An interesting private meeting at BEA…not back-room politics, but an outgrowth of the fantastic discussions we’ve been having at the BISAC Identification Committee. A group of people faced with the collision of digital distribution into physical products – the heads of Nielsen Bookscan, US ISBN, ISBN International, BISG, BISAC, Ingram Digital, and several publishers ranging from large (Random House) to midsized (a university press) to small…as well as a smattering of consultants (me and Michael Holdsworth) – well, we all got together around a table and just talked.
The meeting covered a range of topics, but we began with the proliferation of formats of digital content: Different codecs of audiobooks, for example; different formats of ebooks to suit different readers. Should each of these formats get a separate ISBN? The ISBN standard says yes, each one should..."
Click here to access our newsletter archives and read the June 15, 2007 issue in full.
Cliff Guren, Microsoft
Michael Healy, BISG
Amy Brand, CrossRef
Kelly Gallagher, Bowker
Michael Holdsworth, BIC
Jim Lichtenberg, Lightspeed LLC
Niko Pfund, OUP
Matt Shatz, Random House
Robert Martinengo, Univ. System of Georgia
I am devastated that I am not able to attend - please from this most juicy event!!!
[Leslie] Burger [of the Princeton Library] emphasized that the 16,000 libraries across the country are buying more books, serving an increasing number of patrons who are using the Internet to reserve books from home and becoming more community-oriented by hosting author readings and other events such as One Book One Read programs. "We're not in the business of selling books, but we are in the business of peddling books," she declared.
Publishers have, in the last 20-30 years or so, looked at libraries as barely worth the effort, because circulation has been steadily dropping and libraries buy relatively fewer books than the big-box retailers or bookstore chains. However, times have changed, Rawlinson noted:
She cited a recent Library Journal poll that found library budgets have recently increased by 44%. Libraries have the potential to be "the next Book Sense," she added, "the next big promotion vehicle for new titles."Look for my upcoming white paper on the relevance of libraries to publishers - probably at the end of the month.
And this is true both of companies and their customers. Each component of the supply chain has its own set of tools to assist them in getting from where they are to where they want to be.
So the takeaway (at least for me) from this year's BEA is that there is a vast proliferation of tools out there...and probably what ought to be done at this point is a real assessment of where you want your company to go (what markets are emerging now? how are USERS taking advantage of technology to get what THEY want?), and then an evaluation of the tools available to help you get there.
The big news, of course, is that Microsoft's Windows Live Search is live. Cliff Guren explained all the features today, and it's very similar to Google Book Search except for this important differentiator - no scanning of books with dubious copyright status. Microsoft scans books that are out-of-copyright, and publishers submit in-copyright books for inclusion (giving their permission for scanning).
There's no cost to publishers for the service. And there's no print functionality, or even cut-and-paste functionality, in the search: "As we all know," Guren says, "hacks run amok." So expect a few wiseasses to create end-runs around the protections that Microsoft has installed.
Publishers are able to control how much of a book they want consumers to see - including blocking certain pages from view altogether (in the case of a mystery, for example), or images to which they don't have the rights.
Guren admitted that the primary reason behind Windows Live is competition with Google for "query share" - which has a heavy influence on ad revenue. Look for a Windows Live demonstration at the Crystal Palace - which sounds like a brothel but is really a section of Javits.
Shatzkin once more took the stage in the afternoon as he moderated a panel discussion on Digital Asset Distribution. This was a great panel which included HarperCollins, Random House, Holtzbrinck, and Ingram Digital Group.
Carolyn Pittis of HarperCollins began by talking about using book content "everywhere possible" - emphasizing that publishers should have control of how the content is used. She also noted that "those who scan books for free" (ahem! Google; ahem! Microsoft) don't always produce the quality that an individual publisher can produce if they maintain control of the content.
Pittis also noted that the new widget released by Harper earlier this year has proven to be the third most powerful driver of consumers to the HarperCollins website; 14,000 books have widgets so far.
Up next was Brian Napack from Holtzbrinck, who gave a very wry and witty presentation. Holtzbrinck has chosen Ingram to manage its digital asset distribution, and Brian stressed that a powerful digital infrastructure is key to succeeding in an era increasingly dominated by technology.
He also mentioned that Holtzbrick is launching a social networking site for books called Lovely Books. It's in beta at the moment.
Kent Freeman of Ingram Digital stated that Ingram currently has 170,000 ebooks archived and ready for distribution among a variety of channels - Lightning Source, VitalSource, and MyiLibrary. Their digital warehouse service supports a wide variety of formats (including audio)...and, Kent said, "We have not yet announced our widget, but we will shortly." Which is, of course, a form of announcement.
Matt Shatz of Random House also discussed the Random House widget, which is a bit different from the Harper one - there's no branding on the images, for example, and it includes a search function which the Harper widget doesn't have. Matt confirmed that Random House's marketing efforts amount to "fishing where the fish are" - and that the Internet is universally acknowledged as the space where consumers discover products, sample them, and do research online.
Ted Hill, an independent consultant who's long been concerned with digital issues, gave a great presentation on what the best practices are in the digital marketing arena.
He spoke about a study he conducted - along with IdeaLogical and Magellan - for a mid-sized trade publishing house about how to effectively leverage the Internet and associated technologies to market books to consumers.
Like Shatzkin, Hill had some bifurcations in his vision of the market. Hill divided his viewpoint into four sectors along two axes: Access and Discovery. An author appearance on Oprah, for example, has high discovery...but minimal access because Oprah does not sell books directly to consumers (she merely recommends them). A museum store, however, has both high access and high discovery - people are prepared to go to the gift shop after a museum visit, and they easily discover books there.
Hill also emphasized the importance of publishers empowering authors to market themselves online. Because communities easily build up around authors - and authors are great attractors of email addresses, and other targets for publisher campaigns - this is really crucial. "The greatest leverage," Hill said about internet marketing, "may be in teaching authors how to market."
"You either OWN the tollgate, or you PAY at the tollgate."
So said Mike Shatzkin at his presentation this morning on disruptive technologies and the publishing industry. Defining "horizontal" marketing as a sort of carpet-bombing, standardized (mass-market) approach, and "vertical" marketing as an approach that targets niches in the same way special sales departments have been doing for years, Shatzkin talked about the power of the niche, about publishers leveraging the many communities that are coming up around these new technologies like MySpace and Facebook - how empowering authors to do their OWN marketing (because THEY are the brands, and THEY reach the niches) is far more effective than buying banner ads.
He also made this observation, which appealed to me tremendously, as my great-grandmother was a Sooner (one of the Oklahomans who raced over the border and staked a claim just PRIOR to the border opening - getting her land "sooner" than everybody else): "Pubishers need to be Internet-niche Sooners."
Another crucial point - and one I continually try to get across to clients: "Don't shut out your competitors: manage their involvement." A version of "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." We learned about "co-op-itition" in the late '90s - it's come back around again, folks.
His presentation can be found here.
Our friend Ted Hill will also be speaking at his own session on Best Practices in Publisher Marketing. Ted is all about best practices - his work in bringing publishers into more effective communication with their vendors is really crucial. (I've seen the effects of what happens when best practices are NOT followed, and it's costly.)
Presentations from IDPF, sponsored by OEBF, are here.
THE DOWNLOAD: - by Laura Dawson
TIA - THIS ISSUE'S ACRONYM - ISPI – International Standard Party Identifier
INTEL: COMPANIES - Thomson Learning Division sells...finally
INTEL: PRODUCTS - Amazon launches Podcasts Network
INTEL: PEOPLE - Muze staff still playing round robin
THE JOB EXCHANGE - Listing the hottest jobs in the sector
Yes, more acronyms – IDPF is the International Digital Publishers Forum; MIP is “Making Information Pay”, the annual conference held by the Book Industry Study Group.
Those who attended both noted the similarities in the concerns addressed by the speakers. Essentially, the importance of data standards – especially when it comes to interoperability of files with different types of hardware – was a much-emphasized topic. But what really struck some of us was how so many attendees were muttering the words “tipping point”..."
The general consensus, in casual conversation during coffee breaks, was that the industry is not getting any less digital. That despite fiascos such as iPublish, the Rocketbook, etc., continued investment in digitizing books - whether audio or ebook or online promotions - is not wasted. The train has left the station, the horse has left the barn, the toothpaste is out of the tube - and while certainly consumers are not thundering to Sony's Reader, there are nevertheless some very interesting ways of selling digital book products.
One thing that heartened me, as a die-hard BISAC-er - the persistent mention of standards as crucial to development. Chris Hart of Random House and Allen Noren of O'Reilly both stressed that industry standards (such as ONIX) allowed for interoperability and faster adoption by third parties.
The inimitable Mike Shatzkin had a great presentation about digital asset distribution (DAD) - with some great thoughts about business models. He is turning this into a white paper for Klopotek, which will be available on the Klopotek website shortly.
In keeping with our policy on thingISBN, our "related editions" widget will be free—allowing any library in the country to "FRBRize their catalog" without paying LibraryThing or anyone else a dime.** The paid widgets will include book recommendations, tag-based browsing, ratings, reviews and so forth. We'll only be releasing two or three at CIL, but the rest will come out over the next few months.
- Jim Lichtenberg of Lightspeed LLC has a guest column about the whole Google/Microsoft/AAP/Viacom mishigas - making sense out of it for all of us in the book industry.
- We introduce TIA - This Issue's Acronym - with an explanation of FRBR: what it is, what it's supposed to do, and who uses it.
- We've got industry gossip - the latest scoop on your trading partners, their products, and their people.
The Big Picture is essential to understanding digital strategies in the book industry. The newsletter is aimed at:
- Publishing – mid- to senior-level executives who are forecasting and implementing digital distribution
- Bookselling – product sales executives who are planning digital strategies
- Libraries – collection development librarians who are allocating funds for acquisitions
- Distributors – business development executives who are examining digital distribution of content as another aspect of book distribution
- Enterprise Software Providers – software developers and product managers who have to accommodate digital strategies according to their customers’ needs
The Big Picture is published every 2 weeks – 26 issues per year. Subscription is free. Click here to subscribe!
Today Google held an all-day seminar at the New York Public Library called “Unbound”. Attendees were, largely, from the publishing and e-commerce industries – the usual suspects, in other words.