The Bookseller alongside its FutureBook blog recently posted about the Digital Minds conference which took place earlier today, starting this year’s London Book Fair.
Philip Jones reported that numerous metaphors were used to describe the current status of the publishing industry during the conference with the digital transformation of the industry being compared to climate change. Pan Macmillan’s digital director, Sara Lloyd, stated that while digital will pose a threat to certain parts of the business, others will survive and thrive.
I think my favourite was Neil Gaiman voicing that people within the book business need to be like dandelions, ‘spreading seeds and accepting that some will fall on stony ground’. He further reiterated that publishers need to try everything and accept that some things will fail and ‘fail better’. Keeping an open mind in this day and age is key and Gaiman stated that for the ‘dinosaurs’ in the industry, digital could end up making them extinct if they don’t adapt to survive. One of the positives that Gaiman highlighted was the fact that whatever was made would most likely be right, as publishers can make or break rules which are yet to be thought of.
Will Atkinson added that the digital age had slowed down in recent months stating ‘we are in the changing rooms at half time’. The recent articles in The Bookseller reporting the vast rise in print sales, shows that indeed the digital age is slowing down. I feel that the hype of Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD release at Christmas has died down somewhat. Whilst digital is still very active, I do not feel that ebooks are mentioned as much as they were a few months ago. I feel that it has reached a stage in its growth where most publishers have acknowledged what is happening in the industry and are adapting accordingly. Sara Lloyd also observed that particularly for self-publishers, they have adapted to the changes, and also voiced three Rs: Recognition of change in the industry, respect for one another and recycling of skills/resources as the world evolved. Certainly I believe that publishers have more respect for one another as they are ‘all in the same boat’. There has been an influx of mergers over the past few months as many publishers/other related companies are joining forces to get through this ‘climate change’ in order to stay afloat.
I also feel that publishing houses across the Trade and Academic sphere have definitely recognised that they need to change. In addition, booksellers have also embraced the change, with obvious examples of Amazon’s Kindle creation and the fact that Waterstones are also selling its competitors’ devices in their stores.
The publishing sector is definitely an interesting place to be at the moment. Who knows what else 2013 could bring…
Mixed Metaphors – FutureBook, digital blog from The Bookseller
Digital Minds: Industry must try more, fail better – The Bookseller