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.
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. . .
The best way to review Alejandra Pizarnik’s slim collection, A Musical Hell, published by New Directions as part of their Poetry Pamphlet series, is to begin by stating that it is poetry with a capital P: serious, dense, and, some. . .
Upon completing Albertine Sarrazin’s Astragal I was left to wonder why it ever fell from print. Aside from the location, Astragal could pass as the great American novel. Its edginess and rawness capture the angst and desires we all had. . .
When my eyes first crossed the back cover of Fabio Genovesi’s novel Live Bait, I was caught by a blurb nestled between accolades, a few words from a reviewer for La Repubblica stating that the novel was, however magically, “[b]eyond. . .
“I preferred the war to the plague,” writes Curzio Malaparte in his 1949 novel, The Skin. He speaks of World War II and the destruction it has wrought on Italy, the city of Naples in particular. But the plague he. . .
With the steady rise of feminist scholarship and criticism in recent decades, it is little wonder that the work of Louise Labé should be attracting, as Richard Sieburth tells us in the Afterword to his translation, a “wide and thriving”. . .
In Conversations, we find ourselves again in the protagonist’s conscious and subconscious, which is mostly likely that of Mr. César Aira and consistent with prototypical Aira style. This style never fails because each time Aira is able to develop a. . .
You are not ashamed of what you do, but of what they see you do. Without realizing it, life can be an accumulation of secrets that permeates every last minute of our routine . . .
The narrative history of. . .
Literature in translation often comes with a certain pedigree. In this little corner of the world, with so few books making it into this comforting nook, it is often those of the highest quality that cross through, and attention is. . .
Alessandro Baricco’s Mr. Gwyn is a set of two loosely interlinked novellas that play with narrative and the construction of character. Ably translated by Ann Goldstein, Mr. Gwyn plays some subtle metafictional games as Baricco delves into what it means. . .