Digital Book World Day 3: my Kindle is just a paperweight?!

And so it’s over, the 2 day (+1 preview day) extravaganza known as Digital Book World 2011. But we can reminisce just a bit with a Day 3 roundup…

The day started out with data presentations, the most interesting topic being independent bookstores (are they doomed? Aren’t they? Readers CLAIM they buy more from indie bookstores than they actually do… McNally Jackson, you better be safe). What shocked me most, however, were some of the stats relating to the print book buying habits of digital book readers. 29.5% of eReader owners purchase at least 3 print books per year. And, guys, are you ready for this? …..

SERIOUSLY?! 46%?! What this says to me is that reading — be it traditional reading or reading on a device — instills in people the desire to connect with the culture and community of books. In fact, 66% of people with eReaders are reading more than they were before they got their eReaders. This, to me, is the best news of all for the publishing industry.

As for today’s breakout groups…

  • Engaging Readers Directly: Tools of the Trade –  BooksOnBoard CEO Bob Livolsi was just looking to ruin my Christmas today, guys. He said — and I quote — “in 10 to 12 months, all eReaders will be irrelevant. They will be equivalent to paperweights.” Tabs are the future, he says, and okay, fine, I can see his point… but don’t tell that to my mom, who dropped $139 at Christmas on my Kindle (one that I truly love, but would admittedly trade in for an iPad. Livolsi has a point.).

this is my "I don't know about your future either, my Kindle" face.

  • Between BooksOnBoard, COPIA and ExactTarget, COPIA intrigued me most; sort of like a “Facebook” for the book world, COPIA seems to truly cater to those actually invested in the culture of books. I wish I’d had a program like COPIA in college, allowing me to look at the annotations of my classmates and discuss with friends and experts my opinions about certain pieces of literature. How very cool.
  • Thinking Direct-to-Consumer: Making the Shift to Digital – Once again we discussed the topic of author branding, but DBW’s direct-to-consumer tactics are best summarized through the examples presented by the panelists:
  1. Linda Lael Miller: Brent Lewis of Harlequin talked about the debate of free content vs. purchased content, saying that Harlequin found an equal medium as expressed on bestselling author Linda Lael Miller’s website. During a heavy promotional period, the site featured extra “freemiums,” like video, books excerpts, etc. So while not giving away the book for free on an eReader, the reader still felt as though they received extra digital content.
  2. Simply Beautiful Photographs: Nina Hoffman of Nina Hoffman & Associates talked about a past problem regarding the cover of the book Simply Beautiful Photographs. The originally chosen cover didn’t depict an image seen as universally “beautiful.” In a situation like this, Nina suggested doing what they did: distribute surveys to professional book buyers in order to determine what image was considered most beautiful, most sellable and most altogether excellent. The result? Pretty damn beautiful, I’d say.
  3. Give us your e-mail, we give you a gift: Eric Zimmerman from Courier/Dover Publications talked to us about building an e-mail list, something his company did successfully through a “you benefit us, we benefit you” strategy. As incentive to submit to an e-mail list, Dover sent with each weekly e-mail a PDF of a coloring page for the e-mail recipients’ children. Because of the target audience, this was appealing, cheap and effective.
  • It is important, the three explained, to be sure you’re relaying relevant information to the right audiences, lest you (or your author) ruin the brand you’ve worked so hard to build. This is achieved through marketing over time rather than selling immediately; selling will occur as an audience gets to know you and gets to understand your brand.
  • Marketing a Stand-Alone Title in Digital Times: Can it be Done Efficiently? – This was one of my favorite panels of the conference (and no, I’m not just saying that because my boss was the moderator… hah!). It’s interesting to me the differences between eBook marketing vs. traditional print marketing; while some of the panelists claim there is no huge difference, there is still the notion that a print outlet wants the “extra! extra! read all about it!” exclusivity factor. They want something that no one else has. It’s funny listening to marketing people talk and throw around all of the social media devices they can think of: Quora, TagWalk, Gowalla. Every marketer is trying to determine what will be the next Big Thing… and while everyone is experimenting with everything in their own (often effective) ways, no one, not even the experts, can definitely say what will be popular next. It was repeated throughout the conference: as marketing moves online, it grows evermore important. Strangely enough, measuring the metrics of success is still difficult, with varied and undefined quotients of success littering the industry. Similar to eBook platforms, it will be interesting to see where the future takes marketing.

The conference wrapped up with some agent-versus-publisher viewpoints (mainly regarding loyalties — agents want them at 50%, while publishers tend to hover around 25%). Publishers don’t seem too worried about the 90% of agents whose authors have expressed interest in publishing independently, because they figure authors don’t actually want to do all the work, right? 😉 Russ Grandinetti from the Kindle sect of Amazon then talked to the crowd (Kindle/eBook sales are excellent, digitize as many of your books as possible, blah blah blah) before the final panel of speakers talked to us about the next year for the publishing industry. The main thing I drew from it? These days, the publisher’s role is less about putting books on the shelves and more about making books public.

It’s been a fun DBW11, and I hope you all enjoyed it as well! Until next year….

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One thought on “Digital Book World Day 3: my Kindle is just a paperweight?!

  1. Pingback: Tools of Change: Day 3 Roundup « kristin nehls says, "hello."

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