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This is the place for publishers to hear what’s new, what’s working and what’s fallen into the ‘has been’ pile. As a designer I like to go along to quietly sit in the corner and listen. To continue providing services to publishers we need to know what their needs are and this event is one of  the best to see what’s ahead.

YS Chi was the first keynote international speaker. As the Chairman of Elsevier and President of the International Publishers Association his words really carried respect. With comments like ‘consumers expectations have changed, they now expect books to be available immediately’ and ‘a publishers role is to anticipate readers needs and be there before the reader does’ really hitting home for me. This is a service we can offer, especially with digital books, we can even upload them to any platform and we understand metadata.

A comment from YS was ‘it’s not enough to just produce high quality content, publishers need to create a readers experience’. This is one of my favourite expressions that I have been using for a few years, and to hear these words expressed by an international expert was ‘WOW, we are on the right track’. Along with ‘fail often, but fail early’ and ‘getting attention is the problem’ these remarks became the theme for the days to come. As Winston Churchill said ‘ This is no time for ease and comfort, it is time for dare and endure’.

Murray Thom burst onto the stage next and I was inspired by his stories of continually overcoming objectives and keeping problem solving. ‘Where is my market and who can take me there’, great words for reaching an audience. Plus, I was lucky enough to be given a copy of his ‘Together’ collection, which I will treasure for the sake of the story he told about getting this product out there.

Paul Cameron from Booktrack was next. While I’d already had a good look at this product and had been following the story for a while, it was fabulous to sit and watch people see this idea for the first time. My query is can we add a good visual experience to this as well? What a readers experience that would be!

Dan Caton is an expert on American education publishing and had some great figures on NZ and Australia being in the top 3 uptakers of ebooks. Publishers were wowed by the statistics that Dan offered, but I can’t have been interested enough as I found his accent had me drifting off … wake-up Kimmie, it’s almost lunch time on day one. It had been a big morning.

The rest of the conference just buzzed along and I’m sure you don’t want to read a blow-by-blow account from me, although I do need to say that drinkies and dinner were a very social affair and I met some great people.

The highlight for the next day was Brett Osmond from Randon House. He’s the head of digital for Aus/NZ and spoke about building audience. It was awesome to hear how they identify their readers and profile them. They have recognized that the path to the reader is no longer linear and in the digital market the publisher needs to build a relationship.  The model has changed from product centric to consumer centric. Brett had wonderful tag lines of ‘make consumers part of your everyday’ and the best one ever ‘challenge assumptions everyday!’

Digital marketing is totally different to print book marketing and for us as providers there are loads of questions to ask publishers about ‘how we can help’. From building websites to social media banners and info graphics (something new Random house is starting to explore), we really need some feedback from the industry to see if they would use this service.

Apps were another interesting product. Everyone agrees that they are not working at the moment as a book product (although we can see this changing as technology has made them much cheaper to produce and as designers we can produce them in-house). But … what about as a catalogue. Again Random House are doing this and getting great results for many, many reasons.  A sampling app Brett called them and they had a 64% conversion rate to sales. We can build these easy peasey!

It was also interesting to hear that Random house plan their social media marketing 5 months out. This gives all departments time to have input and the author too. There’s a challenge for our marketing – I wonder if I should record how many times I change my mind during that time 🙂

The gem with all of this is the great statistics that can be captured through apps and social media. Gathering all this info together is a big job for a small publisher and I do wonder if this is another area with we can help and group the information into one dashboard for publishers to then analyse. We would love some feedback on this idea too.

A good way to sum-up is with one of the first things I heard on day one of the conference as I  walked up to the coffee machine. An international guest asked a publisher if they invited designers to the conference. The reply was yes we let them attend, but they don’t offer much. This matched nicely with a finishing remark from the same international guest who stated at the end of the day two event that ‘publishers need to have a variety of new tools in their belts and create partners for these’. After listening to how much technology has changed this industry, it’s now up to us to educate publishers that as designers technology has already given us to the tools to meet their changing needs from producing ebooks and apps to helping with digital marketing and gather statistics.We are equipped to do it all and they don’t need to include an expensive developer into their tool belts!