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TOC 2010. Everything I learned.

It’s been a month since the conference, and I still haven’t gotten over the whole “TOC experience”. My mind keeps going back to all the discussions we had, and I find myself constantly pondering over opinions expressed, predictions made and in general, visualizing what the outlook of our industry might look like few years down the line.

Having worked closely with the publishing industry for over a decade, it was both inspiring and exciting to see publishers from all around the world come together with the realization that change is here to stay. Encouraging, was to note how earnest publishers were towards understanding this change and the focus they have towards preparing themselves for the future.
In this blog, I would like to share a few anecdotes, and what I thought was especially interesting and defining for the future of our industry. For the past ten years we have studied the dynamics of the publishing industry, its trends, changing reader habits and one session that struck an instant chord with me was by Peter Collingridge from Enhanced Editions. He describes the work he does as “tailor-making books for the iPhone, and the challenge that they set, on how to translate a book to a device in a way that creates a valuable new user experience and adds to the content. He highlighted the fact that the app was being offered as an ‘optional experience’. To quote him, “You don’t have to listen, or read and listen, or watch. Its how the reader wants it to be. We can build stuff around it and online – but the reading should be left between the reader and the content. The app is all about engagement with the content.” The key to their success here is their understanding and empathy towards the reader. His insight into reader behavior is an important lesson for all of us in the content business. The sure win sales strategy is to give your readers the content that they want.

Over the past couple of years we have seen the lightening quick pace at which the industry is evolving and this experience has helped us build innovative solutions such as reporting and data analytical tools that are helping publishers the world over take their publishing to a whole new level. As Tim O’Reilly mentioned in his session, today publishers have a better understanding of their markets with the help of data analytical tools and are building direct relationships with their readers. These tools enable publishers to put reader habits under the microscope, and use this information to tailor make content to suit the readers need. This and the ease through which they can convert their content into digital formats and deliver it through custom built platforms enable them to cash in on the opportunities that the web offers.

This year at TOC, I too had the opportunity to share my thoughts on ‘The new dynamics of publishing’ at the keynote and at a focused session on the ‘Next generation of ebooks’. Publishing has evolved, and now more than ever publishers need to focus on their core area of expertise – Content. Yet, understanding and exploiting the advancements in technology and reader demand and consumption habits could very well be the key factor that defines success. My belief is that in choosing the right strategic partners, publishers can remain focused on their core business, while still being able to implement the right technological strategies that keeps them at the top of their game.