Shot Out of a Cannon
I’m told that there are people who find the holidays restful. I have yet to meet one of these extraordinary creatures, but I think they would find holding the publishing industry’s first grand-slam conference of the year in the second week of January to be a dandy thing. Bright-tailed and bushy-eyed, they’d dash out, we must assume, tinsel still in their hair, ready to take on the rigors of Digital Book World’s (DBW) day-and-night glad-handing and info-processing with “Happy New Year!” energy.
Those of us who find the holidays something less than restful are cheering the news that Digital Book World next year moves to March 7 to 9.[pullquote]What do we expect in return for heavy investment in our work? What do we expect a publisher to invest?[/pullquote]
For now, the sixth annual doing of Digital Book World in New York City — the 2015 edition — has just closed, with the Avenue of the Americas’ face-freezing winds to slap us out of The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
Expertly mounted and run like clockwork at the Hilton Midtown by David Nussbaum’s F+W Media staff — led by David Blansfield, Gary Lynch, Beth Dean, Taylor Jacobs Sferra — Digital Book World drew more than 1,200 attendees this year, plus a lot of industry folks who needed to meet those attendees. I can’t remember a conference with so many requests for private chats with start-up personnel and key services outfits. Many of them “surround the conference,” as one observer put it, meeting harried attendees for coffee and a deal on West 53rd, 54th, 56th. We gave nearby cafes, restaurants, and lounges a lot of business.
Mike Shatzkin once again programmed the event, somehow achieving 12 keynote events, a DBW record, I believe, including an impressive conversation with Amazon’s Russ Grandinetti and a rare sighting of an Apple exec, the iBooks chief Keith Moerer.[pullquote]Is it possible that we assign a causal effect — “the more I invest, the more I’ll get back” — to this kind of work, more as a common way of thinking than as an accurate view of market conditions?[/pullquote]
#DBW15 to its Twitter friends is an industry conference, not a writers’ conference. That distinction may not be the one everyone would prefer, but the event — focused on business movements, trends, and perspectives — throws off all kinds of energies and implications for writers, of course.
One annual element that directly involves writerly talent is the delivery of the Digital Book World author survey. This year it has a small novella of a title: Authors Facing the Industry: Data and Insights from Authors on the Publishing Business, Author-Publisher Relations, and Marketing. It’s for sale, as you can see, but I’ve talked with DBW editorial director Rich Bellis, and he’s going to be making available some insight articles about its details soon, from the survey’s author, the sociologist Dana Beth Weinberg.
My close colleague and WU icon Jane Friedman — also known as Porter’s Brain — was with us this year at DBW, looking good in her cannon helmet and ably moderating a panel discussion that was prompted by the new survey.