This year’s Digital Book conference, put together by the International Digital Publishing Forum, was built around the timely theme of an e-book stimulus plan for publishing. Congratulations must go to Michael Smith, IDPF Executive Director and BookNet BFF, for a great day.
More than 20 speakers and more than 400 attendees gathered to debate the merits of potential stimulants and depressants in the e-book world. From my perspective (and the help of the Twittering masses), a few themes emerged…
- Industry Collaboration Makes All Ships Rise
Bob Carlton from LibreDigital suggested that in today’s overstimulated culture, publishers are indeed competing for consumer attention—but not necessarily with each other. Open standards and help everyone—booksellers and publishers alike.
Erica Lazarro from Overdrive adds to this point by stating that in addition to pushing sales, the book industry need to message out e-book adoption to get customer comfortable with digital book content.
And from the reader’s perspective, Sarah Wendell of Smart B*tches, Trashy Novels says promoting virality does not equal promoting piracy. Enabling the reader to share with their networks drives adoption and sales—how can something that feels so right be wrong?
- Devices Are The Weakest Link
No real surprises here—it’s still way too difficult for readers to download and display good looking e-books.
Let’s take the power back and think about ways to support readers and join forces with them in the fight for good devices. Random House responds to reader complaints by asking readers to push back on device makers. Publishers can’t do it alone—align with the readers!
And device makers: ease of downloads is going to impress your customers and develop deep loyalty. There’s a hunger here for less pain (and perhaps a smidge more cowbell).
- DRM Hurts Readers
So…about that alleviation of suffering…DRM makes your readers into criminals if they want to market your books for you (Sarah Wendell), isn’t in line with most publishers’ customer service goals (Angela James of Samhain Publishing), and doesn’t work anyway (Andrew Savikas from O’Reilly). Unless you’re looking for a really great tactic to it drive customers away, do without.
More from Andrew Savikas—pirated e-books don’t need to hurt—people will still pay for convenient digital product (just like they will pay for bottled water). Do it right and you’re going to keep your customers. A pirated book does not mean a lost sale. The two are not equivalent even though they’ve become identical in a lot of publisher’s minds.
I tend to agree with Angela James that refusing DRM will allow publishers to better control destiny of digital and make sure market doesn’t become monopolized.
I’m going to break this up into two posts as this is starting to get a little lengthy. Next up—design, production, and workflow that buy e-books new clothes instead of just shifting big brother print’s hand-me-downs over.