Digital Book World 2011: Our Man on the Spot
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  • January 26, 2011
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After kicking off in New York on Monday, Digital Book World 2011 is where the movers-and-shakers of the ebook world put their heads together and discuss the big issues surrounding digital publishing.

And our man (or at least TeleRead‘s man, and editor) Paul Biba is all over it. In a good way.

Over the next few days, we’ll be running his missives from the ebook confab – and they’ll be a must-read for those interested in the issues underlying the transition to digital publishing. If you’re super-keen you can follow it on Twitter – just look for the #dbw11 hashtag.

Here we go.

by Paul Biba TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home (Republished with permission)

Lorraine Shanley, moderator, Market partners International; Peter Kay, WW Norton; Joe Mangan, Perseus; Charlie Redmayne, HarperCollins; Doug Whiteman, Penguin Group

Shanley: Publishing Trends just did a survey on publishing skill sets for digital media and the qualities they came up with were “adaptable decision maker”

Kay: Norton had all the digital competencies but were in the wrong order. Is a cultural battle and usually can do it with current staff. The older editors are generally the most adaptable. The designers seem to have a hard time adapting.

Mangan: as an independent publishers need some different things than Harper. Can’t “skunk works” digital, it needs to be woven into the fabric of the company. All staff really needs to speak “p” and “e”. As an independent can’t afford a separate digital organization, it needs to be woven in. Don’t have a separate digital team. We evolve our existing processes to take advantage of digital. Cultural change is an interesting one. See a high degree of enthusiasms and volunteerism to being part of digital. Since they are a mature industry this tends to breed complexity and need to break out of this culturally. Not asking staff to understand the economics of digital, but to be aware of it and know to ask the right questions. Trying to broaden their people’s understanding of the whole value chain. Spend a lot of time looking at your data because a lot of answers are there if you apply the proper analytics. There is often a sea of data that often is not taken advantage of.

Redmayne: have a web background. Publishing moving from a single product business with a single way to market to a multiple product business with multiple ways to the market. So need new skill sets, but shouldn’t throw out old skill sets because still need them. New ones are in marketing and editorial. Marketing: in digital world have to excellence in search marketing and social media marketing. For editorial need editors who are able to think about all the other products that can come out of the book and do product development. Get these skills through training can do this with marketing. Harder to do this with the editorial side. Need to bring new digital people in the imprints themselves. Adaptability is not a youth thing. Found an enthusiasm and willingness to learn among their older editors. Rupert Murdoch has a real enthusiasm about looking forward and about how our world is changing. Publishers need to experiment, but were bad in experimenting in the past because didn’t use the appropriate analytics to understand what was going on. If they experiment be sure to fully understand the metrics of the experiment.

Whiteman: I think most about attitude. Adaptability and flexibility. Need a new way of thinking and doing. We don’t know what the product will look like 3 or 5 yrears from now and may need different skill sets later on. A certain amount of fear in the industry makes people look at digital as an opportunity. Most enthusiasm come from people over 50 and right out of college and get most resistance from people 30 – 45. Get involved in a mentoring program and the junior people can actually mentor the older people and increase their skills.

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