The Bookseller summarized yesterday’s sessions with an inadvertently funny roundup post this morning. Tell me if you can spot the incongruities:
The theme of the International Digital Publishing Forum conference on day one at Book Expo in New York was “Putting Readers First,” but whether power has shifted from publishers and retailers to readers – asserted in a keynote by Canelo Publishing’s Michael Bhaskar – was quickly challenged by Bloomsbury c.e.o. Richard Charkin, who says it “has transferred to authors.”
For Charkin, the author is “our fundamental customer, and the next few years will be all about looking after the author. We’ve got a long way to go.”
Undoubtedly, as Harper chief digital officer Chantal Restivo-Alessi noted later in the morning, it’s a bit of both: “getting close to the consumer is one element of serving the author.”
With the power shift to readers, Bhaskar’s keynote emphasized the key function of curation, “selecting and arranging to add value.” Publishers for decades have complained about too many books. Now the increase is on steroids. Bhaskar sees this “abundance” as our biggest problem: how did we ever get to publishing a million new books in English around the world last year? It’s a macro problem of excess, on top of general information overload.
No, you didn’t miss anything; this conference talked all about readers but did not include any on the panels. (There weren’t very many authors, either.)
Publishing industry insiders have paid hundreds of dollars per person to come to a conference and be lectured about readers while not actually getting an opportunity to listen to readers, much less talk to said readers. There weren’t even very many panelists who regularly interface with readers; instead we got senior management from publishers and leading tech companies.
The IDPF is having its equivalent of a “women in comics panel” moment, only this time it’s more funny than sad. I didn’t really expect the IDPF to include readers in its panels about readers, and in the absence of that frustration I am free to be amused by this trade group’s oversight.
Yes, I do find the incongruity amusing. It’s like a bunch of teen-aged boys confusing talking about girls with talking to girls (to be fair, I don’t think boys would make that mistake).
image by markhillary