19 October 09 | Chad W. Post

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

As part of the Education Forum taking place in Hall 4.2, there was a CEO roundtable this afternoon to discuss “Four Big Ideas that Will Change Your Business.” With representatives from Lightning Source, the British Educational Suppliers Association, Smart Technologies, and Bowker/ProQuest, this promised to be a very interesting and useful discussion.

Larry Brewster of Lightning Source opened up the meeting with a visionary talk about print on demand and how this is altering the overall business publishing model—not just for educational publishers, but for traditional ones as well.

In looking at the benefits of single-copy POD, Brewster emphasized a few key advantages, some more obvious ones (low inventory costs, smaller capital investment), and others that are a bit more subtle (one that he really beat home was the fact that having books available on single-copy POD ensures that a publisher wouldn’t miss a single sale due to a book being out-of-stock).

What was most captivating about his speech wasn’t necessarily the advantages to the publisher of having their books in a POD system, but the implications of this. For instance, the idea of “Distributed Printing” opens up a whole new world of cost-savings and instant access. His vision was that POD machines would be located throughout the country/world, in both warehouses and bookstores. This would allow publishers to transmit digital files to a plethora of locations where the physical books could actually be printed, thus destroying the traditional method of printing a bunch of copies and paying astronomical amounts to ship books across the country. (Not to mention the additional cost of having these shipped back from all points of the globe in form of returns.)

Taking this one step further, he touched briefly on end-user creation, which could really appeal to educators. Under this model, a particular educator/reader could pick-and-choose things that they want in a book and then have the POD machine print up the exact number of copies they need. Customization that’s currently impossible . . . The opportunities are very broad, especially once color POD machines are available and the cost of POD printing falls to that of traditional offset presses. And like Brewster said, “this is a model that works. It’s a just-in-time system that will continue to grow.”

The next two presentations focused a bit more on the idea of “disaggregation” in educational publishing. Ray Barker from the British Educational Suppliers Association touched on the way the British government has invested billions in Interactive Classroom Technologies, such as interactive whiteboards and now, “learning platforms.” According to Barker, all UK schools are supposed to be using a “learning platform” by 2012. Which, he admitted, might be a bit ambitious and will probably be bumped back a few years. Regardless, this is a huge opportunity for educational publishers, especially those able to figure out how to produce disaggregated content—content that is segmented and that educators can pick and choose from.

Nancy Knowlton, the CEO from Smart Technologies talked about the desire on the part of educators to get things for free. This is an issue that’s starting to impact the entire publishing industry (and will for years to come, especially with the rise of e-books), and although it sounds completely damaging at first, Knowlton suggested that there are opportunities here as well, especially for businesses that are willing to reach out to potential customers and listen to what they have to say and be willing to educate educators on the relationship between quality and a fee.

Finally, Andy Weissberg from Bowker/ProQuest talked about gaming in education and the need for there to be a stronger connection between games and the curriculum. (As an example, he talked about his two daughters coming home from school and either playing Farmville online or some “educational” games on the Leapfrog, but that neither of these activities really related to what they were covering in school.) In terms of pure opportunity, from my perspective, this seems very attractive, especially with the proliferation of iPhones and other such devices and the relative ease with which people can create apps.

I’m not terribly sure there were four big ideas presented at this roundtable, but a few of the pieces were pretty thought-provoking. To be honest though, I was really looking forward to hearing from Mike McGuinness of Scribd about “viral marketing and piracy protection.” He was advertised in the events brochure, but bailed for whatever reason. And seriously, viral marketing and piracy are two ideas that most definitely WILL change your business.


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
I Called Him Necktie
I Called Him Necktie by Milena Michiko Flašar
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

While looking back at an episode in his life, twenty-year-old Taguchi Hiro remembers what his friend Kumamoto Akira said about poetry.

Its perfection arises precisely from its imperfection . . . . I have an image in my head. I see. . .

Read More >

Return to Killybegs
Return to Killybegs by Sorj Chalandon
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

The central concern of Sorj Chalandon’s novel Return to Killybegs appears to be explaining how a person of staunch political activism can be lead to betray his cause, his country, his people. Truth be told, the real theme of the. . .

Read More >

The Last Days
The Last Days by Laurent Seksik
Reviewed by Peter Biellp

Spoiler alert: acclaimed writer Stefan Zweig and his wife Lotte kill themselves at the end of Lauren Seksik’s 2010 novel, The Last Days.

It’s hard to avoid spoiling this mystery. Zweig’s suicide actually happened, in Brazil in 1942, and since then. . .

Read More >

Selected Stories
Selected Stories by Kjell Askildsen
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

To call Kjell Askildsen’s style sparse or terse would be to understate just how far he pushes his prose. Almost nothing is explained, elaborated on. In simple sentences, events occur, words are exchanged, narrators have brief thoughts. As often as. . .

Read More >

Letter from an Unknown Woman and Other Stories
Letter from an Unknown Woman and Other Stories by Stefan Zweig
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

After a mysterious woman confesses to an author simply known as “R” that she has loved him since she was a teenager, she offers the following explanation: “There is nothing on earth like the love of a child that passes. . .

Read More >

Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage
Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Reviewed by Will Eells

Floating around the internet amid the hoopla of a new Haruki Murakami release, you may have come across a certain Murakami Bingo courtesy of Grant Snider. It is exactly what it sounds like, and it’s funny because it’s true,. . .

Read More >

The Matiushin Case
The Matiushin Case by Oleg Pavlov
Reviewed by Brandy Harrison

The publisher’s blurb for Oleg Pavlov’s The Matiushin Case promises the prospective reader “a Crime and Punishment for today,” the sort of comparison that is almost always guaranteed to do a disservice to both the legendary dead and the ambitious. . .

Read More >

Fear: A Novel of World War I
Fear: A Novel of World War I by Gabriel Chevallier
Reviewed by Paul Doyle

One hundred years have passed since the start of World War I and it is difficult to believe that there are still novels, considered classics in their own countries, that have never been published in English. Perhaps it was the. . .

Read More >

Little Grey Lies
Little Grey Lies by Hédi Kaddour
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

In the London of Hédi Kaddour’s Little Grey Lies, translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan, peace has settled, but the tensions, fears, and anger of the Great War remain, even if tucked away behind stories and lies. Directly ahead, as those. . .

Read More >

Autobiography of a Corpse
Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
Reviewed by Simon Collinson

One of the greatest services—or disservices, depending on your viewpoint—Bertrand Russell ever performed for popular philosophy was humanizing its biggest thinkers in his History. No longer were they Platonic ideals, the clean-shaven exemplars of the kind of homely truisms that. . .

Read More >

The next few events from our Translation Events Calendar: See More Events >