Saturday, May 12, 2007

Two e-Publishing Conferences Held in New York

Yesterday, I said I wasn't particularly worried about HOW readers choose to read books. Whether they read traditional books,
e-books, or audio books isn't important to me.

I'm more concerned with the impact the increasing digitization of printed matter will have on the publishing world.

This week there were two conferences in New York that addressed this issue. Although the two conferences were not officially connected, they were both held in the McGraw-Hill Auditorium on consecutive days. The International Digital Publishing Forum's (IDPF) annual e-publishing conference was held on Wednesday, May 9th. The "Making Information Pay" seminar sponsored by the Book Industry Study Group was held May 10th.

Thursday, Publishers Weekly (PW) had an article on the IDPF conference, saying that while last year's focus was on smartphones, this year there was a debate over "when a breakthrough device or technology will make digital publishing a profitable business."

"The future is here," said Adobe System's Bill McCoy, . . . "but it's unevenly distributed." McCoy's point was that all publishers acknowledge the promise of digital distribution--they're just waiting for the 'digital tipping point,' a device, new software or a new standard to push digital distribution to the next level. (PW)

You may recall that the IDPF (formerly the Open eBook Forum) is working on a standardized format for digital content. Right now, one of the biggest problems facing e-reading devices is that they all use different formats. If a customer buys an e-reader, s/he is limited to purchasing books compatible with that reader. There are six popular formats out there at present. Rumors are that the new e-reader from will be a universal reader, but that device is not yet on the market.

Throughout the morning session, presenters from various companies demonstrated their e-reading devices for the audience. Sony's Ron Hawkins showcased the Sony Reader (see here for a previous blog on it). Willem Endhoven of the Dutch company iRex presented the iLiad (see here for a previous blog on it). Guiliano Muratore demonstrated Telecom Italia's Librofonino. According to Publishers Weekly, it's a "pocket-sized device with a large, flexible, rollup screen that is larger than the device when it is unfurled." See it here.

Publishers Weekly offered a second article talking about the IDPF afternoon sessions during which Google revealed that 13% of all books sold are now purchased online. Google also "discussed plans to roll out two features for Google Book Search, including paid online access to books; and a new feature called Full View . . . [p]aid online access could provide permanent access to an online edition, or consumers could rent access a week at a time . . . with publisher permission, the Full View option will allow 100% of the book to be available to consumers."

Also during the afternoon sessions, both Random House and HarperCollins talked about their widgets, "software applications that allow consumers to find book excerpts and other content."

You can see copies of the Random House slides giving stats for their Insight widget, a digital book distribution program launched February 27th, here.

The HarperCollins slide presentation is here. The HarperCollins representative "discussed the widget's role in viral marketing on the Web, noting how the Harper Browse Inside widget is being used for teen books on MySpace as well as on retailer Web sites and on all Harper e-newsletters."

Tomorrow we'll talk about the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) conference and the two themes that conference echoed from the IDPF conference.

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