This post originally appeared on the Frankfurt Book Fair blog. I highly recommend visiting the official blog for interesting posts from Richard Nash, Alex Hippisley-Cox, and Arun Wolf
The first ever Tools of Change Frankfurt conference took place all day today, bringing together representatives from a number of different parts of the book industry to discuss opportunities for the future of the publishing industry.
Seeing as that my flight arrived at 7am this morning, I didn’t exactly make it to the opening sessions . . . and wasn’t entirely cogent during the panel that I participated on.
That said, the presentations I attended were pretty inspiring, especially the one from Michael Tamblyn’s “Your Reading Life, Always With You,” which employed a very “reader-centric” approach to contemplating the future of e-books.
Tamblyn—the VP of content, sales, and merchandising at Shortcovers.com, an e-book retailer launched by Canada’s Indigo Books & Music, Inc.—gave a very engaging and humorous presentation littered with real-life situations and the impact these situations should have on the future of e-books.
His basic goal was to demonstrate the readers would be willing to pay $14+ for an e-book—if there are enough useful features included. This might seem like a small point, but publishers have been collectively freaking out about the now-almost-standard $9.99 price point that Amazon.com has helped institute and that readers have cottoned on to. Remember the #9.99boycott of a few months back? This is supply meets demand meets value expectations stuff, and at the moment, what you get when you buy an e-book is only worth $9.99 to the vast majority of e-book users.
But Tamblyn things that can change. He pointed out a myriad of features that would entice readers to fork over a few extra bucks for an improve level of e-functionality.
For example, “longevity of the book” was an obvious starting point. A traditional book can be passed down from mother to son, generation after generation, until the book falls apart or goes missing. Tamblyn’s argument was the readers would pay an addition $.25 for an e-book with this feature.[gallery]
Other potential e-book features Tamblyn thought readers would be willing to cough up a few cents for, included:
Tamblyn briefly touched on the technical side—claiming that all of the features discussed could be implemented almost immediately—but what he’s most concerned with is giving readers what they actually want. And getting other publishers to buy into this vision.
Personally, as a print book publisher and reader, I was actually swayed quite a bit by his presentation. With each example I could imagine how this would occur in my life and how I’d be much more tempted to invest in an e-reader if x + y + z were possible. It was also striking how well his ideas fit in with those found in Ted Striphas’s The Late Age of Print.
This need for publishers to be “reader-centric” when expanding their digital initiatives was a theme that ran throughout the Tools of Change panels, including the panel Richard Nash of Cursor moderated on the “Deconglomerated Publisher & the End of the Supply Chain,” (which is also the one I participated on) and Kassia Kroszer’s presentation on “Starting from Scratch” in building a digital publishing company.
Never having been to a TOC conference, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but the turnout was fantastic and the level of discussion extremely sophisticated. Great first year, and hopefully this will become a staple of the Frankfurt Book Fair for years to come.
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .
It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .