We're pounding the hard concrete floors of the Javits Center today — it's day 1 of our Book Expo coverage, as we juggle sessions at two compelling events packed with content: IDPF Digital Book 2013 and Publishers Launch. My colleague Lynn Rosen and I have each gathered snippets of wisdom to share with our readers from presentations we have heard today.
This morning at the International Digital Publishing Forum's Digital Book 2013 Plenary Session, Laura Hazard Owen of paidContent.org interviewed Chantal Restivo-Alessi Chief Digital Officer of HarperCollins in a session titled: Digital Publishing In Transition: Steering a Course in the Middle of A Storm. Restivo-Alessi, who comes to publishing from the music business, noted some differences between the two industries, notably how music is more about selling individual songs rather than albums (not as much of a concern in book publishing). She noted great areas of opportunity in catalog reinvigoration through price promotions, but saw bigger gains to be made in product innovation, both with apps and with enhanced books.
Restivo-Alessi noted that we're living in a world that's both print and electronic, which provides a great opportunity to cross-sell, through bundling additional content in both "p" and "e."
With regard to direct selling, she noted a skepticism about the importance of publishers' brands for the consumer (beyond companies like Tor) and expressed a belief that a subscription service for books (the mythical "Spotify for books") is viable as "younger consumers become used to the concept of access vs. ownership."
At Publisher's Launch, Lorraine Shanley, President of Market Partners International, hosted a session with the heading Business Development: Publishing's New Line Responsibility. With a panel made up of Wiley's Peter Balis (Digital Business Development), Workman's Andrea Fleck-Nisbet (Executive Director, Digital Publishing), HarperCollins' Adam Silverman (Director, Digital Business Development) and Simon & Schuster's Doug Stambaugh (VP, Strategy and Business Development), the discussion revolved around strategic partnerships, growth targets and emerging revenue models
"We all know how the industry is performing overall," said Balis, "But we're being given very aggressive target numbers."
Silverman noted that "Revenue models are not going to stay the same. We have to expand the ways we can sell into [other] channels."
Fleck Nisbet noted that her three main goals are to "Leverage content, grow direct-to-consumer relationships and increase commerce."
Shanley concluded, noting that "The chance of a CEO or COO coming out of Business Development is well within our sights."
Also at Publishers Launch, Benedict Evans of Enders Analysis, in a presentation called Publishing and Platform Wars: Big Tech Players, Their Strategies, and How they Impact the Publishing Business, took a look at the ways Apple, Android, Amazon and the like are positioned to impact publishing now and into the future. Tablet devices, he noted, have already eclipsed desktop computers in sales and are on the verge of overtaking laptops.
"Apple and Android have already won," said Evans of the platform wars, where those two titans' operating systems reign supreme. "It's unlikely that other platforms, such as Windows Phone, Blackberry or others, will be relevant." In presenting what he called his "comedy slide," he plotted Amazon's revenue (ever increasing) against its net income (flat, hovering around zero) before pointing out that Amazon is not managed to be profitable now, it's managed to maximize the company's future value. A chilling thought for some publishers for sure. (View his slide deck here: http://www.slideshare.net/PublishersLaunch/benedict-evans-mobile-is-eating-the-world)
Related story: BEA Show Notes, Day 1, Lynn's Take