Thank goodness I was given a Kindle for Christmas two years ago. I say that because the three-day O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference (TOC2009) in NYC this week was all about digital publishing and I could smugly raise my hand when a keynote speaker polled the audience about eReaders. Even though the back of the Amazon Kindle keeps falling off, the battery dies too quickly and I have to carry around a bent paperclip to have handy for the reset button, there were a lot of Kindle devotees in the audience, matched, by the way, by the number of attendees who owned a Sony Digital Book. Doesn’t this tell you something?
It’s All About Me! Yet Again!
This year I was doubly interested in the topic of digital publishing because of the enormous amount of time, energy, and money I spent developing a commercial online publishing presence in 2008 for Back2Press Books and publishing my first print and soon-to-be eBook, The Cure for Jet Lag. As excruciatingly boring, painful or vague as most of the titles of the individual seminars were:
- Copyright in Today’s Digital Age
- XML in Practice: Formats, Tools, and Techniques
- What’s Your Mobile Strategy?
- Optimizing Distribution + Maximizing Control + Channel Transformation = The Perfect Trifecta for Publishers
- CEO Roundtable: The Changing Role of Publishers
- Making an Impact with Travel Content
- Smart Women Read e-Books
- Extending the Publishing Ecosystem, Sharing Greater Wealth
- Authoring Challenges in a Multiplatform World
I was breathless with excitement to cram in as many seminars as I could.
KEYNOTES THAT MADE ME CRAZY MAD.
Stop stealing my property you s.o.b!
One of the keynote speakers was Cory Doctorow. He’s all over the internet, speaking, blogging, writing, etc. Doctorow railed about Digital Rights Management (DRM) being a bad thing. Hey, I love free too. And I can understand giving some things away as an enticement to sweeten the deal on a book purchase (print or digital), but let’s NOT give the main product away or allow people to STEAL it by illegal downloads in the hope/expectation that the content will become viral and then, maybe, others will buy it. This is madness. (Yes, I know all about illegal downloads in the music industry.) How about I let myself into Doctorow’s apartment because he hasn’t locked his front door and steal his monster flat screen TV so I can watch some digital TV?
Cory, listen to me, Big Boy: Most authors do not have the requisite gene to promote themselves and their products as smartly and thoroughly as you. Jeez. Their knees would knock at the thought of venturing onto a stage. As elder-statesman Jason Epstein, co-founder of On Demand Books and a developer of the Espresso Book Machine, said in his mesmerizing keynote: most authors do not want to do anything but write, and it’s an “alone” endeavor that does not involve leaping about on stage or developing ancillary byproducts to offset the loss of income from stolen property. Making me even angrier, the final keynote, Nina Paley, AKA “America’s Best-Loved Unknown Cartoonist,” showed a trailer of her absolutely beautiful, romantic and award-winning cartoon-short, and spoke at length about how she endorses “open content” and welcomes theft (my word) of her images and concepts by anyone and everyone. (Fine, turn a frame into a place mat. Enjoy. Go ahead. Let the filmmaker starve to death.) I’m not buying it. Nope. What she is trying to do is find a film distributor and since she has not to-date, frustrated, she must be doing everything in her power to attract attention in the HOPE that a film distributor will buy the rights. What else can she do? She asks for donations on her Web site, and she does get them, but by her own admission, not enough to stop her from holding out her tin cup. Right. I think I’ll leave my car on the street, doors unlocked, key in the ignition, on the off-chance that will encourage someone to buy my house. I’m in high-dudgeon over this one.
O’REILLY GIVES GOOD LUNCHES
One of the most exciting parts about TOC2009 is you never know with whom you are going to sit at lunch time. True, there’s that awkward moment when you approach a table, tray in hand, with only one empty seat and everyone chatting away, and have to ask: “Do you mind if I join you?” Last year I sat next to a woman from “Publishers Weekly.” We have kept in touch AND met up again this year to chat about PW’s downward spiral and firing of Sara Nelson, Editor-in-Chief. This year I plunked myself down at a table full of Random House suited-up execs and the more casually attired Random House geeks. (Not talking to each other.) The Lightning Source fox who stumbled into my table full of Random House hens clearly could hardly contain himself . . . and didn’t. As a note of interest, the man sitting to my right at the table had just lost his job at another major pub house. His friends at Random House had paid for his ticket to TOC2009. Nice. Very nice. This gesture is just another indication how important networking can be at TOC.
I’ve got a backlog of work to catch up on. So for now, let’s call this TOC2009 Part I, and I’ll try to blog again with more comments re the various seminars I attended. Yes, I attended lots of seminars, including Smart Women Read eBooks (which should have been titled “Box of Books and Bag of Diapers”); Making an Impact with Travel Content (where I exchanged business cards with two panelists); and CEO Roundtable (where one of the panelists, Eileen Gittins, Founder, President & CEO of Blurb, told about riding a rocket fueled by “crafters” into the digital stratosphere in just two years — fellow panelists, Tim O’Reilly, Founder of O’Reilly Media; Michael Hyatt, Pres & CEO of Thompson Publishing; and Bob Young, CEO of Lulu, did collective double takes when they heard Gittin’s stunning stats.) Say what? Huh? She had how many millions of glue-gun-wielding visitors to her site everyday?
Don’t you want to know about the opening night party at Zanzibar; the jaw-dropping silence that filled the Marriott’s Broadway North auditorium as we watched the video of The Espresso Book Machine 2.0 — essentially an ATM for books — automatically print, perfect-bind, and deliver a single volume in less time that it takes Starbuck’s to produce a fancy cup of . . . espresso; and the tension-filled last ten minutes of TOC2009?
You betcha. Wink. Wink.
Note from the Wicked Witch of Publishing (TM): Make sure you read Comment #4 from Brother Rene. We live for comments around here, so feel free to leave one! Thanks.