Life Is to a Box of Chocolates as TOC Is to Flavours of Jam

How to recap a newbie’s experience of TOC 2010?  The ideas are so numerous, that I find myself distractedly thinking about jam.

In his plenary session on Day 1, Ingram CEO Skip Prichard referred to the results of a study where jam selection was compared to overall sales volume.  Contrary to expectation, sales increased when selection decreasedtoo much selection was paralyzing.  His point was that companies should simplify and focus on what sets them apart from their competition, but for me this has become a metaphor for the conference, and there are implications for the entire eBook supply chain.

TOC 2010 was a smorgasbord of information, resources, contacts, questions and solutions.  Great cases were made for establishing verticals in the market, while in another room the opposite case for segmenting into specialized services was being presented.  More than once I wanted to be in two sessions at the same time, and I didn’t (or couldn’t) make a decision until moments before the start times.  Nearly every session I attended was informative and engaging; I’ll be spending some time going back over my notes through the rest of this week to try to absorb some of the bits that escaped from my poor, inundated brain.   Despite the information overload, I came away feeling generally more informed on a variety of issues and services, and feel vastly more prepared for Tech Forum next month.

Then again, I’m not in the position of having to formulate or recommend an eBook strategy for my company.  I wonder how many publishing decision makers are experiencing a form of paralysis when considering starting up eBook production?  While the TOC conference was a sold out event, there were a lot of small and mid-size publishers not in attendance.  The sessions at TOC seemed to tacitly acknowledge that it’s no longer of question of whether to do eBooks, or even how to produce basic eBooks; they were focused primarily on improvement of existing product offerings and new methods of marketing in the digital space.

I think there are still many publishers who are overwhelmed by the variety of workflow and production tools and services available, not to mention the proliferation of file formats and DRM options.  Readers are likewise being inundated with a profusion of new devices and applications.  As the options increase it’s only getting harder to take a first step.

Perhaps the iPad will save publishing simply by narrowing down the options, or merely by appearing to narrow the options.  But if you believe variety is the spice of life, take a few minutes to sample some ‘TOC Jam’.  Choose one or three flavours from the list of recorded sessionsyou just might discover a favourite.