Giving It Away: Book Summit 2009

The number of book professionals and students gathered at Harbourfront today for Giving It Away, the Humber College/BPC eighth annual Book Summit suggested that with or without BEC, there’s a strong desire to congregate and share ideas.

My heart was really warmed by this. I promise that no Friday evening libations are influencing my sentimentalityfrom my stone-sober vantage, it’s a real pleasure to be a part of an industry that is seeking collaboration to survive the challenges and embrace the opportunities of what is frankly kind of scary.

Whether or not free is really the preferred price point of the next generation of content consumersand I take issue with that assumption, as I think that convenience and early access trumps $0 price tag almost every timethere are certainly changes that are influencing the way we create, read and sell books.

What I loved:

  • The focus on audience participation in the workshops. It’s so great to be able to be a part of the discussion. Sarah MacLachlan and Brent Lewis did a particularly great job at this.
  • Lack of doom and gloom. No one went on a Chicken Little rant, no one wore one of those homemade The End is Near signs or the symbolic equivalent. As Johnny Temple said, we have 3-4 months of whining and then it’s time to just move on and deal with it. It kind of feels like the whining is already done and the rolling up of sleeves is well underway.

What I would have liked to hear more of:

  • Higher ed. These are the publishers who have been hit hardest already and who will continue to feel the pain more acutely than trade pubs for at least a while yet.

    I had an unsettling conversation with an educational publisher who told me about digital white boards that enable pictures to be taken of text (printed text!) and then shared and manipulated. All of sudden my sense that it’s harder to pirate books than music became less certain.

  • How the Book Rights Registry might actually help get publishers and authors paid. I know it’s scary, I know there are a lot of implications. But for an agency like Access Copyright, it might also be really useful. And for independent presses thinking about retaining global rights (now or in the future), it will make getting paid a heck of a lot easier…

My favorite swagthe Access Copyright mini-football. Fun, free and fair!

Congrats Annie, Cynthia, Stephanie, Jennifer and everyone else involved on a job well done! Looking forward to next yearbut please, please, can we have wireless? It’s key not only for those jonesing for their fix like me but also to keep everyone who couldn’t be there in person there in spirit.