What I Look Forward to at TOC

As my co-worker Carol Gordon pointed out in an earlier post for the BNC Blog, ‘Tis the season… for conferences in the publishing industry. BookNet staffers Samantha FrancisNeha Thanki and Noah Genner were just at Digital Book World in New York and I’m joining Carol next month at the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference in New York from February 13th to 15th.

The session I’m most looking forward to has a hint of nostalgia to it. On the 14th, LeVar Burton (yes, Geordi La Forge from Star Trek: The Next Generation) will present a keynote address on RRKidz, “a multi-faceted new media venture” that uses “the digital devices kids love to inspire them on a journey of discovery and exploration through reading.” As someone who watched Reading Rainbow religiously when I was younger (and someone who still will not flip the channel when I hear that distinctive theme song or see those instantly recognizable production values), I’m really excited to see what the a re-booted Reading Rainbow will offer a new generation and the educators, parents and others who develop a love of reading in children.

The Changing Face of Retail Bookselling and The Library Alternative panels will present recent worldwide developments in each sector of the industry and discuss what trends can be expected in the near future. The bookselling panel, featuring experts working at the frontlines, selling books and content in Australia, the UK, the US and Canada, promises to present trends and developments seen in each country and focus on the observed patterns for a global discussion of the future of the trade. The library panel is just as relevant. Just as retail booksellers find themselves at a pivotal moment in the digital landscape, libraries must confront their own digital demons in an attempt to afford “equal access to content, while making financially feasible for publishers and writers.” While this panel questions the state of the relationship between publishers and libraries, Gary Rodrigues’ talk Tapping into the Global Library Market in Today’s Digital World for Creating a Right and Successful Strategy suggests publishers must drive ebook adoption in the library and education markets to increase profitability.

In the wake of the US’ Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) boycott and Jaron Lanier’s New York Times opinion piece questioning the sustainability of free and open culture in the future of the internet, William Patry’s, Google’s Senior Copyright Counsel, session on “Fixing Copyright” should provoke a discussion. While Patry’s session is likely to focus on ideas brought forward in his 2011 release with Oxford University Press, How to Fix Copyright, it would be interesting to hear about the policy talk happening behind closed doors at Google after the company made the decision to, as Lanier put it, “trump the stated nonpartisan mission” of their site when faced with the proposed piracy legislation. TOC attendees can get another copyright fix at Edward Colleran’s What’s New Copyright? session that will, undoubtedly, discuss the public reaction to to SOPA.

Finally, TOC concludes with Joe Wikert’s address on the need to redesign the flow of money associated with the traditional supply chain model where physical books are shipped to retail stores to be sold, invoices are sent, and payments (and returns) trickle in over the following weeks and months. As this model no longer applies to the realities of selling e-books, in Retooling for Faster Digital Revenue Realization, Wikert will reveal O’Reilly Media’s solutions to this issue and the improvements their authors will experience as a result.