Hello from the New York Hilton, where the Digital Book World conference is under way. I will live blog the sessions this morning, featuring presentations by Mike Shatzkin, James McQuivey and Teddy Goff, digital director for the Obama campaign.
To see the live blog posts, you will need to click on the headline of this post, “Digital Book World Live Blog from NYC.” Once you have that post on your screen, you should see notifications whenever I have an additional update from the conference. I hope this works and that you find it useful!
That’s it. I’m not sure how helpful that was, except for the political junkies in the room. One idea that occurred to me is whether publishers will need to put forth individual spokesmen with personalities readers can relate to, as a way to generat the kind of impact the Obama campaign did. John Sargent at Macmillan seems to be approaching this with his holdout stance against the DOJ settlement and authentically voiced letters explaining his position. This would be tougher to do for a huge company like the soon to be merged Penguin/Random House. But for social media to work, it has to emanate from real people, right?
Q. I don’t like digital anything. If Obama gave you a book and said do something with this book, how would you get his book out. Say he’s an unknown. How would you apply it to a book?
A. Find the people who really care and let it emanate from. Who is that base? A certain profession. They may have 500,000 Facebook friends. Would take some money, some cold calls. As social Internet better reflects real relationships, finding core supporters and motivating them to talk to friends is the best way to go.
What’s next, in four years. Social technology isn’t going anywhere. People want a voice. Snap Chat – your message disappears after a certain number of seconds. Better approximation of conversation. Technology getting to be more like how people interact in their day to day lives.
Social media has evolved in an interesting way. When Steve Jobs died that was a historic peak in tweets etc. In the course of 2012, Twitter was where everyone talked about news.
Buzzfeed CEO said of social media: people care about what they are seen as affiliated with. On Facebook, messages were 90 percent positive. People don’t want to be saying negative things about Mitt Romney. A valuable insight for people in this room. People want their friends to respect them and like them. They want their friends to think they read books.
Twitter was largely an insider channel. It could influence the political conversation. Every reporter in the country spent all day on Twitter. Made a huge difference. Romney’s comments in London blew up in a couple of hours, largely because of Twitter. We were measuring how well reaching reporters, part of political conversation.
On Facebook, we were reaching out to actual voters. Looking for reach, response, using Facebook metrics.
Social media was basically new in 2012. Being able to reach millions of people with a single Facebook post, or 800,000 retweets – that was new in 2012 compared with 2008. When talking with people via social media, “We were talking to people who had the power to win the election for us.” The paramount challenge was how to reach them.
Q. What was biggest surprise of campaign – things that didn’t work that you thought would.
A. There was a particular line of argument against Romney that tested well in focus groups. Waited till end to deploy, and it didn’t have the impact expected. Didn’t work so well in real world of busy lives, compared with focus group setting.
It was surprising how engaged people were in 2012. Had maybe expected less than 2008. Twice as many volunteers in 2012.
A social brand has to derive from the actual personality of the author. If they don’t want to be on Twitter they shouldn’t do it. President Obama had a first-person Twitter account that was excerpts from speeches. Switched to staff voice. Could be quirky, and it was more honest. You can’t be canned, fake, divorced from conversation of the day. People should be themselves and start from there.
We put a lot of effort into trying to be interesting, in emails. Jim Messina – made sure it always sounded like him. Never wanted to waste anybody’s time.
Canadian author asks why he’s on Obama email last. A global campaign?
A. You must have subscribed or someone pranked you. We were conscious that if it were suggested that we were running a global campaign, we would have been in a lot of trouble.
If half as many people show up to work for gun control bill announced today as worked on Obama campaign, it will pass, Teddy Goff asserts.
Mike Shatzkin asks, “How is Democratic Party going to keep the asset base you built? They won’t be voting for Obama again.”
A. I won’t answer that question fully. But Obama campaign will be transformed into a continuing political organization. Data, technology, and human expertise will be maintained as an advantage for Democratic Party. You can be sure that the resources will be deployed in 2014.
Toward the end of the election, lots of TV ads were running. People were inoculated, so it was hard for paid advertising to get through. Person to person communication is going to be the only way to get through in 2016. Person to person is not going away.
Q. Was the same work brought to bear in the 2010 mid-term elections? Was the election really about your efficacy in getting out the vote. What role did they have in changing peoples’ minds?
A. The 2008 electorate did not show up in 2010. Not an increase in Republican voters. A better digital program might not have turned it around. Democratic Party did not invest as much in their own supporters as was the case in 2012. Same holds for book world. You have readers who would talk about books to their friends if you help them through technology. In 2012, an advantage was popularity of President and public polling was flawed.
Someone urged campaign to focus on danger of Super PACS. It didn’t work in raising money. They figured it out by testing. Dinner with Barack did much better. Always test. Also, email was most effective way to connect.
Q. We are trying to connect with authors, says someone who works at Audible.com. Do you have advice on balance between engaging posts that attract likes and informational posts. We have a lot of granular information, as in “Here are three reasons why your audiobook did not get through Quality Control process.”
A. We put a lot of time into thinking about what balance is. On Facebook, a cute photo of President and First Lady will do better than a policy point. You test the mix. You can make the informative post engaging. Dinner with Barack was grounded in values of campaign, even as they were asking for money.
Most social action campaigns start with someone asking someone to do something.
Teddy had a brief stint as an intern at a publisher.
Q. I am a blogger, about politics. Bloggers were treated to all the information that anyone else got, conference calls etc., by the Obama campaign. Maybe publishers can take a lesson from that.
A. Appreciate the comment. Politics is a direct-response business. People tend to do things if you ask them to. Shockingly effective simple example – emailed staff and asked them to tweet a new video.
People love to talk about books, but it hasn’t come to the Internet yet. (What about Goodreads?)
Teddy Goff was asked how long will it take for Republicans to catch up with campaign technology. Internet has authenticity, transparency as fundamental values. Advantage is not that Dems have smarter guys than Republicans. It’s that the values overlap. That’s why publishing can overlap with Internet values – same values of authenticity, sharing.
Q from audience for Teddy Goff: Democrats were weak in 2004, followed by a transformative period. How come 2008 campaign was so sophisticated. What was the aha moment?
A. Obama campaign grew out of John Dean campaign. Lots of digital personnel came from Dean campaign. Technology advanced.
Can you make effective videos without spending a lot of money? Yes, Teddy Goff says. Simple video of response to an attack ad was seen by more than 800K viewers. You all have complex businesses, he tells publishers. People really care about books. Couldn’t say that if this were a conference of soap sellers. You create something people want, that’s close to their heart. So this kind of approach could work for you.
Teddy Goff on video: From marketing perspective, the concept of it includes an honors the role of the supporter. Most people don’t live in D.C and don’t watch CSPAN. Their experience was on computer, watching videos, media. Fly-swat moment was a remembered moment, not details of recovery act.
One last observation: I think I heard Amazon mentioned a total of four times this morning. I was not at the first two DBW conferences, but I suspect the Amazon mentions were a lot more prevalent. What does this show? My guess is that the publishing industry is settling in to the digital reality in a smart, sustained way that is not so much dominated by fear of an Enemy. They know Amazon is a powerful player in their industry, but there is so much changing so fast in terms of technology and the media habits of the world that it’s crazy to spend all your time gazing toward Seattle and wringing your hands or shaking your fist. The players that will survive are turning to their own work. I find this invigorating and a hopeful evolution that will benefit those of us who are ahead of the curve in adopting eBooks and related media.
What I’ll remember from this panel: Brian Napack’s book-loving wife doing housework while she watches Downton Abbey on her iPad mini. That’s the world these publishers are facing. They will need skills of a Teddy Goff to make connections with audience that work in all realms, digital and immersive content books. Fascinating future unfolds! Breaking now for lunch…
Cader: B&N has growth business and book stores. Market puts zero value on book stores. Can the pieces live happily somehow? Napack: There is a battle for survival of the bookstore. B&N intertwined digital with physical. There will still be a vibrant bookseller sector. Battle for digital consumer is different than battle to make bookseller survive. So makes sense to separate them at B&N.
There will be more innovation and growth from smaller players in publishing, even as consolidation accelerates, Brian Napack says. Google came into search industry when industry was fairly mature.
How does Pengin/Random House merger affect investment possibilities? Hachette has got to be thinking how it will compete in U.S. “The clock has started ticking.” It accelerates. Over the next couple of years we will go from Big Six maybe to Big Three publishers.
Napack: Scale matters in investing heavily in marketing, of owning an audience, exposing product to an audience. That will enable you to win the battle for the author and then the consumer. “My wife is walking around the house with her iPad mini watching Downton Abbey…I love you dearly, Elise.”
Brian Napack: at some level scale does not matter in publishing. You can get a book formated, distributed easily enough. Scale advantages of 30 years ago are gone. But scale matters more than ever. In old days, if you had enough scale you could compete with anyone. Not true now, especially as Random House and Penguin merge.
Penguin & Random House are in a battle for the media consumer’s attention. Migration from eReader to tablet means competition is not necessarily from another book. Woman next to Brian Napack on train today was watching a TV show instead of reading Fifty Shades of Grey on her iPad mini. That’s the competition.
What’s clear in publishing biz, Napack says, it feels like a lot of change but at the end of the day, we are seeing the beginning of the end to all that change. We are starting to see what industry will look like. We’re seeing a settling.
Michael Cader asks if this is a marketwide compression, an investment cycle or what, for publishing? Brian Napack: there is a lot going on in the marketplace. The movement of capital in publishing is less about investing in great businesses and more about scale (Pengin/Random House).
Up next: Brian Napack, senior advisor at Providence Equity Partners, interviewed by Michael Cader, founder of Publishers Marketplace.
Is XML just for publishers? Of course not. Bob Oeste had a bumper sticker in XML. Jon Bosak invented XML. Without XML, we would not be able to sell eBooks. His slide shows that Fifty Shades of Grey really does have “entrepreneurship” as a keyword at Amazon.com .
Can you code an entire book in XML? Of course, says Bob Oeste. Shows example of Good Night Moon. Claims he used to read it to his kids in XML. “It put them right to sleep.”
If you have your boxes ready for moving, labeled by rooms, you don’t have to change anything if you move to a different house, or computer. Three stages of XML file – good, better, best. Well-formed, validated by DTD, or validated by Schema, as in closing all tags.
You can add keywords to a book listing. Like “entrepreneurship and mentoring” for Fifty Shades of Grey. Cute.
“I often like to speak in XML,” Bob Oeste says. “I’m going to tell you my name. My name is Bob Oeste. I just told you my name.” Don’t you wish you could turn to someone and say “slash conversation?”
Pop Quiz on Fifty Shades of Grey: Express this information as XML (title, author, etc. Answer:
Dr. Robert Oeste of Johns Hopkins University Press on XML. You probably know a little bit about it, the way people used to know a little about Latin. XML is a lot easier to learn than Latin.
Summary: make your legitimate digital content convenient and well priced AND use anti-piracy measures.
Megaupload was a cyber-locker service where lots of pirated material ended up. U.S. shut it down. Compared countries with high Megaupload usage to those with low usage. Shows those with higher usage resulted in increase in legitimate sales after shutdown of Megaupload.
HADOPI law in France gave three strikes. Pirate once, get an e-mail, then escalated penalties. They studied effect of the law. Shows less piracy in France afterward.
Can anti-piracy laws help? Aren’t they just whack-a-mole? Not really. You just have to make pirated material less attractive, Prof. Smith says.
Best strategy against piracy: make your material available conveniently, reasonably priced.
“Publisher X” asks about delaying eBook publication compared with hardcover. (“windowing”) At same time, Publisher X got in fight with Amazon. So it’s Macmillan. They sent Prof. Smith the data. He found that delaying eBooks causes a very slight increase in hardcover sales and a big drop in eBook sales. People go away and never come back. (I’ll say.)
ABC adds content to Hulu. Compare piracy with other networks. There is a 37 percent drop in ABC piracy compared with other networks.
When ABC returns to iTunes, piracy level remains elevated.
Piracy went up for other networks, too. ABC move taught them how to find pirated content.
NBC removed content from iTunes in August 2007. This creates a natural experiment. People can’t find the content anywhere, after they had been buying it at iTunes. There was an 11 percent increase in piracy compared with other networks.
Myth 2: You can’t compete with free. Why would anyone pay, if it’s available for free? Answer: It’s just a special case of price competition. You can differentiate the paid good compared with the pirated good on factors like safety, legitimacy. This applies to digital channels, not physical channels. Customers choose their channel before their product.
If filter by which research was peer-reviewed in top journals, only one study shows no impact of piracy, versus 11 saying yes. “If you look at the academic literature the only conclusion you can come to is that piracy hurts sales.”
Academic studies show piracy affects sales, or not. Prof. Smith finds 25 studies that show a substantial negative impact on sales, versus only 4 saying there is no impact. Several of the 25 come out of his lab.
How do consumers respond to piracy? Myths: 1) Piracy doesn’t harm sales. 2) You can’t compete with free. 3) Anti-piracy legislation will not be helpful in consumer behavior. I’m glad he noted that his Carnegie Mellon unit is partly funded by the motion picture industry!
Prof. Michael D. Smith of Carnegie Mellon begins his talk on “Competing with Free: How Piracy Impacts Sales and Strategies to Fight it.”
This panel makes me think that tools like http://luzme.com are important for eBook buyers. They can track prices for you, and as they move around you can purchase at the best price. Savvy shopping for price will pay off.
Dan Lubart: pricing should not be sacred. Go up or down a dollar.
But stickiness of The Daily Deal has been declining, Dan Lubart says. Halo effect drops to 2 days instead of 3-6 days. Still a big impact. “It’s still a win,” Lubart says. There is more promotion, more noise, so any one promotion is not going to have the impact of a year ago. An exception was Wool, which spiked up a month after being the Kindle Daily Deal.
Kindle Daily Deal has been the big daddy of promotion. Dan Lubart: drop book very low for a day, with widely seen promotion. Rank always goes to top 10 or better. It sells a lot. The next day the prices goes back to $7.99. What happens? People still buy at the higher price. It’s called The Halo Effect. That declines, might last two or three days at the top of the list after the Daily Deal.
There may be other benefits to price discounting. To build a platform for an author, for example. – Dan Lubart
What should publishers do with eBook pricing? Dan Lubart: “Test.” You don’t have to print on the cover with an eBook. Play with the price. You learn how a book will sell at various prices. “Testing is always going to be the best strategy.”
If sales weren’t being improved by price drops, publishers wouldn’t be doing the discounts, Dan Lubart says. For some books, the established bestsellers, discounts don’t make sense. People will be willing to pay $14.99, for example.
One way to see effect of eBook discounts is to look at sales of print book and eBook as eBook price falls. For Perks of Being a Wallflower, that analysis shows big impact in sales rank from price discount. – Dan Lubart
You have to look at promotion, not just pricing. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, the rank improves in concert with release of movie. Rank falls after the movie effect, even with price discounts.
Does price discounting work? Data for Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks, published on 9/14/10 by Hachette. As Kindle price falls from $8 down to $4, and rank at Amazon improves. When overlaying Nook ranking, it shows rank goes up in response to price discount AND promo on Nook landing page.
Dan Lubart expects a leveling out of eBook pricing. Best-selling eBooks by top author sell, no matter what the price.
@DigiBookWorld average price of eBook bestsellers hit new low of $8.09 this week, Jeremy Greenfield notes.
Jeremy Greenfield notes that @DigiBookworld eBook bestseller list is broken into three price bands. It shows the over-$10 band is shrinking. The band priced at $3 to $7.99 is growing. A large shift.
Kindle bestsellers are on a downward trend for eBook pricing since last April. Similar decreases for Nook prices. Since August, the lines are very similar.
We’re back. Next panel will be about eBook pricing, with Dan Lubart and Jeremy Greenfied.
Time for a break. I’ll be fetching my sweater.
Teddy Goff presentation, following the CEO panel, shows that there are ways publishers can connect with readers that will assure future success.
I hope this has been of interest, for those of you who followed along!
You need an entire business strategy based on this. Honor the increasing role of technology and expectations people have. It’s a huge opportunity. Internet has a bum rap for cheapening public discussion, but it has also welcomed millions of people into the discussion. Soon billions. Having more people involved is good news for anyone who cares about books. Interest in international affairs has never been higher. Interest in 2012 election was higher than any other. More discussed than the Olympics.
Future of politics, in 2016? Teddy Goff is not sure. Facebook may rise or fall. People will have more power and influence. That won’t change. No matter how answers change, question is still going to be how to form a relationship with people that an entity can do to adapt, evolve and thrive using technology. People’s expectations rise as technology improves. They know any institution that isn’t keeping up isn’t worth staying with.
Mapped Facebook usernames to physical addresses. Invited people to share content with their friends. Here are your friends who are not registered to vote, in Ohio or Florida. Half of younger group cannot be reached by phone. 85 percent can be reached by Facebook. They get contacted by a friend they know or trust.
AB testing of emails. Slight changes in email wording can mean $2 million more or less donations. Campaigns required to give names of over-$200. They told people when they were close, and invited them to become part of permanent record of campaign. Hugely successful.
“That’s the kind of thing, if you’re an Obama supporter, makes you want to give,” Teddy Goff says.
“A Little Art” – Goff says most famous fund-raising initiative was Dinner with Barack contest. It grew out of values from 2008 campaign – giving small donors seats at the table. Filmed the dinners, showed him as a person. Someone asks what it was like not having his father in his life. Video clip from the dinner shows. “He took me to my first jazz concert.” Even if it’s only a month, a big impact. “His absence contributed to me really wanting to be a big Dad.” Quite moving.
Teddy Goff shows photo of him and President at laptops. Reddit.com appearance by Obama earned 5.2 million readers on day of chat. It was most trafficked event in Reddit history. 30,000 people registered to vote that day when Obama put link in his post. The mere fact he was on the site showed he understood 18- 30-year olds and Internet, Goff says.
The emotional side of content. Shows photo of President in his chair, saying “This seat’s taken.” In response to Clint Eastwood’s empty-chair riff. The tweet was retweeted 55,000 times. It was most retweeted of campaign to that point. It was native to the Internet. A statement by campaign manager would not have had same impact.
This is digital-native content. Speaks the vernacular of the Internet. Designed to inform and inspire, and to inspire sharing.
Teddy Goff’s Team Digital message. The most important thing was not to be lame. “That’s not as easy as it seems, because politics IS lame.” Great rule “Don’t be lame.” How do you get 1.4 million people to read a blog post about tax policy? They created a mock site for Romney tax plan. When you clicked on details it moved around, you couldn’t find them. After a while it clicked to details of the tax policy issue.
Teddy Goff: 99 percent of those on Obama email list voted for him. The question in 2012: How are we going to give people the kind of experience they can’t get anywhere else, so they will do the work for us. The relationship is the most important thing. If we honored them with content, they could win the election for them.
What HAS changed. Funny photo of Mitt Romney using his iPad. Obama has 34 million Facebook fans. They are friends with 98 percent of US Facebook population. More than the number of people who vote. They could reach almost everyone in U.S. more powerfully than direct contact from campaign.
Teddy Goff on what had not changed since 2008. Raise money, identify voters, turn them out to vote. People have not changed. They have more gadgets, their lives move faster. But they are still driven by wanting to be inspired, to be engaged, to be heard, to be respected.
Teddy Goff, digital director for Obama campaign has taken the stage. Neil Goff, his father, will do a panel tomorrow. He begins by talking about 2008 campaign. Facebook was an eighth of the size it is today. Twitter was around but not much impact. iPhone was invented during that campaign.
Excellent Panel! I am impressed to see how subtle and innovative these publishers are. They are navigating this digital world pretty well, thank you.
Gary Gentel: We are learning a lot about price elasticity. We have discovered that we have to make sure we are lowering prices for the sake of lowering prices. There has to be a strategy. “I have no idea what 2013 is going to bring in terms of pricing.” We need to be at forefront of it.
Marcus Leaver: We’re trying things out in prices. We fought Amazon’s Daily Deal. When it went to a higher price, it kept on selling. “That astonished me.” B&N classics at front of the store, very good value – you would think sales would tank, because anyone can publish Jane Austen. “Funiture type classics,” beautiful objects, are selling fanstically well. There are lots of data points that confuse us, but we’re learning a lot.
Karen Lotz: For your average children’s book consumer who is used to $15 price point for physical book, there has been some erosion. eBook prices being lower puts pressure on publishers. We need to plan on long run for a title. Difficult to predict pricing in future. It’s a balancing act between investing in marketing and making prices very attractive. Two are related.
David Nussbaum: Pricing. (I find it interesting that this topic comes up with only five minutes left on the panel. Not a burning issue, it would seem.) Is there a devaluation of content because of lowered prices? We can’t make a living selling lots of 99-cent books
Marcus Leaver: We will be talking about bundling a lot more next year.
Gary Gentel: Anything we can do in the back of the digital book to drive another sale, we are doing that. Promotional opportunities are worth looking at. It all brings back to direct connection with customer. “We have a lot of work to do. We are in the infancy of doing that kind of thing.”
David Nussbaum: Are you using the digital file to get a customer’s email address? An offer in the digital book for a free giveaway?
Karen Lotz: IT team have become experts in dealing with customers. Copy editing is now Quality Control department. We have increased the size of that team, keeping it in-house. If you are checking to make your eBook beautiful, your customers will be grateful.
David Nussbaum: We’ve had to hire more and more people into quality control. We rushed into a lot of eBooks, but we found quality issues. The digital piece is going to grow pretty aggressively.
Gary Gentel: We are experts at making books, at managing an author and an author’s career. We’re not experts at transferring that excellence to digital bookmaking. We try to bring that expertise to us through partnerships, financial arrangements. Now we’re looking to bring it more in-house. That’s the value that we publishers can bring.
Marcus Leaver: A lot of people who said they were experts in digital books ran down some blind alleys. They weren’t really experts. I’d rather buy some of the services in and see how they develop within the company.
David Nussbaum: Do we need to hire audience developers, SEO experts, web developers?
Karen Lotz: Publishing companies need to let people know about what they do, what goes into publishing a book.
Marcus Leaver of The Quarto Group is wearing a fantastic pair of pink socks, which show up nicely on the stage at Digital Book World. Nice contrast with his white shirt and dark suit. “Frankly, we’re never going to have as good a website as Amazon.”
Gary Gentel: What we struggle with is what is the value of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to the consumer. We try to emphasize our brand. We are investing time and money in making a more robust website. We have to be all things to all people. Even if they go to another site for the purchase, that’s okay.
Karen Lotz: In US, there are hurdles to becoming a direct-to-consumer seller. You have to put lots of systems in place. They are doing it now through Apple. The infrastructure, the tax setup in all 50 states – challenging for a medium-sized publisher. In marketing, the job is to let people know about what their brand of books delivers.
Gary Gentel: We are marketing directly to consumers. That is the new paradigm (drink!). In this world of declining bookstores, it is our job to reach customers. Meta-data should be attuned to reach consumer, not to buyer at bookstore. It’s not an easy thing to do. As this audience moves online, majority of kids are going to Amazon to look for materials. First mention of Amazon so far in panel.
Karen Lotz – Discovery is important for children’s books. It’s important to create the book lovers of tomorrow through childrens books. Two-thirds of parents still think print books are good, because of reading to kids. How do you find great children’s books online? That’s what she’s looking at right now. Children’s-only physical bookstores that also sell eBooks may be an important future development.
Marcus Leaver: In digital discovery, thinking about “digital SEO,” though he doesn’t know what it means. Pinterest? He’s played around with it but he doesn’t think that’s it. The Apple Bookstore is exciting when you know what you want, but otherwise it’s tough.
Marcus Leaver of Quarto: It’s pretty good here in the U.S. for physical books compared with London. “It’s not bad here.” Still focused on “post bookstore world strategy,” though. Less than 15% of book sales will be in bookstores by the end of 2014, he expects. Will sell everywhere else they can – specialty stores, gift stores, etc. Physical books will depend on a hyper-local approach, focusing on indie bookstores and commissioned reps, “boots on the ground.”
David Nussbaum: Challenges in discoverability. How do you deal with that challenge now that you don’t have the book shelf the way you did five years ago?
It’s cold in this room! I will sneak upstairs to get my sweater during a break. Not sure what to do about chilled fingers on the keyboard…
Gary Gentel of Houghton Mifflin: Digital fully integrated into the business. Digital-only employees are mainly on strategy an marketing side. In terms of book-making, it is integrated between p- and e-books.
Karen Lotz: We decided digital is the water we are going to be swimming in. Out of 85 US employees we have one digital-only marketing person, but rest spend majority of time working on eBooks. They also work on print list. Try to integrate the two.
What percent of employees are digital, David Nussbaum asks. Marcus Leaver of Quarto Group: “Everyone, really.” The marketing department is coming closer to editorial. Sales becoming a different animal than in the past. David presses: Who ONLY does new digital business?
Karen Lotz of Candlewick Press has done one book app so far. Now developing partnerships to do others.
Gary Gentel of Houghton Mifflin: It’s incumbent on us as stewards of children’s book like Curious George to look at apps for mobile carefully. Taking “a very wary eye.” He is very excited about mobile technology throughout the world. More advanced than in U.S., especially in Pacific Rim.
Karen Lotz: There is a divergence, with children’s books reading is shared experience, so distraction is less unless a text pops up. Children’s industry is accustomed to ancillary revenues. Mobile platforms will offer opportunity of this sort. Not as books but in other ways.
Publisher says he’s not sure readers often read a book from start to finish anyway, so the tabletization of reading is not such a big change? I doubt that.
Gary Gentel of Houghton Mifflin: Whatever we put on a tablet has to keep reader’s attention. Emphasis on “shorts” arises because publishers are vying for the time of readers. They have a lot of other options. It’s a huge opportunity for publishers. Need to use it in other ways.
David Nussbaum of F+W Media: eReader is much more like a book. Tablets lets you jump around. Will reader habits change, and will that change what we publish?
Karen Lotz of Candlewick Press: We decided we were going to be the second mouse who gets the cheese, because they waited to jump into color illustrations. Now, with the ascendancy of tablets over eReaders, it’s the right time to do so.
Someone using a tablet is “one click away from the world,” which means publishers have to be better at what they publish on a tablet, versus what’s on a pure eReader, publisher says. Interesting point.
“The CEO’s View of the Future” panel includes Karen Lotz of Candlewick Press in Somerville, Mass., Marcus Leaver of Quarto Group, and Gary Gentel of Houghton Mifflin. Topic: tablets soar, eReaders stall.
When will eBooks account for half of all books sold? December 2014, most say. 23% say it has already happened. As industry settles, in a rapid period of time, a phenomenal rate of digital disruption has taken place relatively successfully, McQuivey says.
32 percent hink print sales will decrease this year. Expect eBook sales to increase 21 percent by year end, compared to 130 percent expected last year. The eBook industry is settling. Devices, expectations of growth. The dust is clearing, and execs know what to do.
The DOJ settlement with publishers triggers “modest” concern. 55% expect that Amazon will end up more powerful than it is. Only 30 percent think Amazon will lower prices on all books, and only 21 percent think Amazon will increase its share of eBook sales. Execs don’t know how to resist Amazon. It is a general concern, without specific knowledge of what’s ahead.
Confidence in apps wanes further among publishing execs. They say apps cost too much to produce. Only 19 percent see apps as changing the future of books. We can push that one to the side, McQuivey says.
A consensus on devices emerges, McQuivey says. eReaders are ideal reading platform – only 23 percent. Tablets: 60%. Big drop for dedicated eReaders. The will be irrelevant soon, 45 percent of executives said. McQuivey warns that early eReader adopters are reading the most.
Forrester surveyed 53 publishing executives beginning November of 2012, representing two thirds of publishing. They are optimistic, steady over three years. “My company can compete in digital environment” – 64 percent, a drop of 10 percentage points from last year. “My company is stronger today because of digital” 34%.
iPad Nation would be the 11th largest country, having just passed Mexico, James McQuivey says. Nook sales are slowing down, Kindle sales are speeding up. Top publishers report that more than 25% of adult trade sales are digital.
Next up, Forrester’s James McQuivey, whose new book is coming from Amazon Feb 26, titled Digital Disruption. He will introduce the third annual DBW survey of publishing executives.
In five years, most children’s books will be distributed by players that are not even known yet, Mike Shatzkin says. There will be a panel on “the gamification” of children’s books. This will be unwelcome news to my daughter, Sarah, who teaches reading in the Cambridge Public Schools and is resisting such nonsense.
I thought there’d be a continental breakfast, but no. Glad I brought a bag of trail mix!
Mike Shatzkin addresses the Digital Book World conference at the New York Hilton.
Shelf space and traffic declining in book stores, which is trouble for illustrated and children’s books, which still work in print, Mike Shatzkin says.
Shatzkin says publishers will need to go to “audience-centric” marketing, with line between marketing and editorial to become fuzzier.
Random House / Penguin merger is a very big deal, Mike Shatzkin asserts. They could create a digital book club model. If I were a competing publisher watching the new combination, figuring out how to respond would be highest priority.
Mike Shatzkin of The Idea Logical Company kicks it off at DBW. He will have five points.