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Team Speak: Frankfurt Book Fair 2010

This year, The Frankfurt Book Fair seemed quieter than the previous year in terms of footfall, but not so in terms of quality of meetings. We saw a higher level of ‘C Level’ visitors prepared to explore their digital strategies and talk about how a technology partner might be able to assist them in this endeavor.

Our stand which was strategically placed right opposite the ‘Device Hot-Spot’ gave us the opportunity to study attitudes towards the several reading devices that have hit the market place in the past few months. No doubt the hype about the iPad and the onslaught of these new devices have led to the explosive growth in eBook sales and has generated a lot of discussion, with more publishers now paying a lot of attention to the future of content and content delivery. The tablet phenomenon is proving to be a major catalyst towards driving user demand for interactive and media rich content on the move, and has spurred many industry leaders such as Google, Amazon, Apple and Samsung to position themselves to own the digital book space, in much the same manner that Apple has taken over the music industry.

While a few years ago, the predominance of this digital trend was limited to the United States and parts of Europe, we are now seeing an increasing interest in digital content and eBooks from developing countries in Asia, the Middle East and South America.

The eBook era is enabling publishers to take more control over their content and deliver it directly to their end-users. Delivering eBooks to the market does not have to follow the traditional print supply chain where the distributor and retailer have such a strong presence. Publishers can now have their eBooks hosted on a neutral platform and sell or deliver it through their own branded eBookstore directly to their end users and institutions. This allows the publisher to set their own price and redefines their relationships with resellers, and of course the discounts they offer.

While matters regarding DRM protection for content still remains debatable, this year we experienced more and more enquires from publishers and distributors regarding safeguarding of their digital content. The market is clearly a friendlier place for eBooks and we saw several publishers from different countries shopping for an eBook platform that allows them to deliver and sell their content as an aggregate set of titles via publisher branded portals. It was encouraging to note that most of them had researched the eBook platforms available in the marketplace, a clear indication that they are in the process of embracing this new age with enthusiasm. The internet and the cloud phenomena that powers global access of content through multiple devices continues to shape the publishing world and we are all excited about what the future holds.