First up was O’Reilly’s Tools Of Change Frankfurt, which started with an interesting overview from Andrew Savikas followed by Pablo Arrieta and Douglas Rushkoff who gave the highlight quote of the morning y telling the room that 60% of them were superfluous to the needs of publishing.
Rushkoff was both right and wrong in his prophecy I suspect, but time will tell. It has certainly been the topic of more than a few conversations I’ve shared in recent years and numbers both higher and lower have bounced around, the emphasis being in a 40-60% range.
My session seemed to go okay, but it is always hard to call these things. I was lucky to have an engaged audience for the questions and answer portion of the session though.
While I was there the rather interesting news about Richard Nash‘s (a longtime American based Irishman) first list at his Red Lemonade (get it!) imprint broke. This is kind of the first of two shoes to drop so wait for the community type announcement when it comes, I expect it will be very interesting indeed.
On top of that, during my session, in another room, where he was giving his own talk (one I’d have loved to see) clever old James Bridle only went and announced a rather cool new project, Open Booksmarks. I wish him, and the project, luck, it’s interesting and I think it has legs too.
Once my session was over it was off to the Messe for the Canada Livres International Digital Rights Seminar, which had at least one Irish attendee other than myself, Ivan O’Brien of O’Brien Press.
That series of talks and the panel discussion that followed was excellent. The speakers gave such a diverse view of how ebooks are shaping their markets and their realities.
John Oakes of O/R books has a model that makes their own website the primary sales channel. They sell ebooks and print editions direct to customers and have had some success, notably Going Rouge, a title on Sarah Palin that parodied her Autobiography, Going Rogue. They also license paperback editions of the books to other publishers for sale in traditional bookstores which seems like a reversion to the days of paperback houses to me, not such a terrible idea in some ways.
Perhaps the two most eye-opening talks for me were from Ronald Schild from MVB Marketing (a subsidiary of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association) and Silvia Clemares head of digital publishing at Grup62. They were eye-opening because both talked about efforts by their native book industries to respond to digital change in strategic focussed ways. In Ronald’s case it was Libreka and for Silvia, Libranda.
But they weren’t the only innovators either, Erin Creasy from ECW Press outlined not just the sheer complexity of their ebook rights situation, but also their new digital only press, Joyland a smart play if ever their was one.
Michael Tamblyn of Kobo Books also spoke and he was (as he always seems to be) excellent. he focussed on international sales and how they have taken off for Kobo. One fascinating slice of a day in the life of Kobo, May 21st 2010 showed them selling ebooks into over 150 countries, which is frankly amazing and shows you what a scrappy upstart can do.