TOC 2009

So I’m finally back from a crazy month of conferences and meetings. Met a lot of interesting publishing people – all facing similar challenges.

We were a gold sponsor of the TOC conference and we saw an incredible response from publishers and people from the industry in general. It just goes to prove that no matter what the market conditions are, publishers know that they must look and invest in technology and electronic offerings to stay current with market trends and how important it is to keep up with the rapidly changing industry. Maybe that’s why the Tools of Change conference was sold out whereas some other traditional meetings saw a significant decline in the number of attendees. We also exhibited at PSP (Professional and Scholarly Publishing) where the attendance was off significantly from last year. From what I have been reading, many meetings are struggling for attendance – but not so at TOC. This gives you a clear indication of the focus in publishing – in this concerned market.

 

This year, I noticed that one of the most discussed topics at various conferences was “e-books” in its various configurations and forms. Many of the presentations had lots of numbers and graphs depicting various upticks and trends in ebook sales. In one session on “E-Books: Business Models and Strategies”, gave the following numbers on electronics vs print… “In STM, estimates of digital revenue range from 15-30% of total book revenue; in higher education it’s up to 30%; and in reference it’s 60%.” We can now see clearly that consumers are changing their reading habits. Stanza, the new reader for the iPhone, boasted that since offering Stanza in Dec 2008, there have been over 1.5 million downloads of the reader and millions of more books downloaded to their iPhones.

Another hot topic at TOC was Twitter and how it has changed the way information is communicated and exchanged. There were lots of discussions on the Dos and Don’ts of Twitter and the most effective way of messaging and marketing on Twitter. Almost everybody at the TOC was online and twittering throughout the conference. ‘TOC’ was the most twittered topic for almost a week. Marketing on Twitter is a whole new deal. I too am becoming a tweeter on Twitter and I think that if you’re not at least putting your feet in the bird feeder, you’re missing out on a lot of information that could be useful to your future – no matter what area of publishing is your focus.

We were VERY pleased with all the enthusiasm and interest that we saw in iPublishCentral. At the conference we announced that iPublishCentral registration rose above 150 publishers since launching at the Frankfurt Book Fair and from what I’m seeing – TOC is already helping that number soar. We held a seminar at TOC: ‘Sparking a new e book revolution through a new self-serve model’ by Sameer Shariff, our CEO. We all attended some very interesting presentations too, and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in on Tim O’Reilly’s presentation about “reasons to be excited” and Chris Brogan on ‘blogging and social media’. Nick Bilton presented on ‘the future of storytelling’ which was inspiring and Robert Stein’s focus on a publishers new responsibility “… to build and nurture vibrant communities for authors and tend to their readers” was an eye-opener for many publishers. The focus of building a community around your content is one that we have been conveying to market for a long time.

Throughout the conference, certainly there was a focus on how the market conditions are challenging, to say the least, and why it is especially important for publishers to dip their toes in the water and test out the ebook market with a low cost/low risk solution. So when you think about it, there couldn’t have been a better time to have launched iPublishCentral since it provides low cost and time saving solutions to publishers. Timing is everything. Take a dip and tweet the market.

Let me know what you found most interesting at TOC.

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