Publishing Business Virtual Conference & Expo Is Today. Editorial Director Noelle Skodzinski Gives You the Lowdown
Book Business and its sister publication, Publishing Executive, are presenting today the Publishing Business Virtual Conference & Expo, a daylong session of e-learning and e-networking for professionals in the book and magazine publishing industries. The free event features 14 sessions in two separate tracks (books and mags) and draws thousands of publishing executives who spend the day absorbing and discussing new strategies—all from the comfort of their own office. (And if, for some unfathomable reason, you’re getting to this newsletter a week late, you’ve not missed the virtual boat: The PBVC&E is available on-demand for three months following the event.)
We asked Noelle Skodzinski, Editorial Director for Book Business and Publishing Executive, to answer a few questions about the event and its benefits to publishers.
Book Business Extra: Hello Noelle. Welcome to the Book Business Extra Hot Seat. First question: What the heck is the Publishing Business Virtual Conference & Expo (PBVC&E) that's happening today? How much does it cost? How long has it been going on? Do attendees need special virtual reality goggles? Is PBVC&E like the Matrix?
Noelle Skodzinski: I'll start with your last question. Yes, it's very much like the Matrix, only without Keanu Reeves. But, I have been known don a long leather jacket and dodge bullets in slow motion. So maybe that'll help make up for his absence.
No goggles needed, though that could be fun, since no one can see you.
The event is free to attend. I love being able to offer all this content to our audience at no cost. We have to thank our sponsors and exhibitors for that. So if you are attending, please make sure you stop by the booths and download the free resources from our sponsors, as well as check out the tech sessions a few of them are producing. They've got great information to share, too, and that's free as well.
This is our third year for hosting the virtual event. We expect around 3,000 attendees this year.
Oh, and you wanted me to explain "What the heck the virtual event is": It's just like an in-person conference and expo, except that it is all accessible via your computer and a web browser. So you can sit at your desk (with your goggles), and when you log in, you're brought into the main lobby, which simulates a convention facility. You'll see an auditorium, where the live and on-demand sessions are held, an information booth for help, the expo hall, among other things. Attendees can pick which sessions they'd like to attend; there are both live and on-demand sessions (which can be viewed at any time throughout the day).
Extra: You've lined up some great speakers and panelists. What do you think book publishers will take away from the sessions?
Skodzinski: I think they'll be most impressed with my welcome video and my introduction of the brilliant speakers we have. (Kidding.) Seriously, we have amazing speakers who you can learn so much from just by listening to them for 5 minutes, let alone in full sessions.
We have sessions on best practices in e-book metadata, e-book conversion options, a great session on tapping apps, which will address the anatomy of a book app strategy—from conception to finding success in the app marketplace—as well as what will be the next "killer app" in mobile apps. (It's a secret. I can't tell you more than that!) And a great session on digital printing trends and opportunities featuring Blake Silber, president of Bridge Publications, Adi Chinai of King Printing and Toby Cobrin of INTERQUEST.
And, there's a session on digital rights management, which will focus on strategies for implementing profitable DRM, as well as the impact of the cloud; and an e-chat with Sundeep Kapur, a social media mastermind—really, he's brilliant, as well as funny and very entertaining.
The keynote presentation is focusing on consumer trends in e-books and strategies for e-book pricing. I'm really excited about having Frank Luby from Simon-Kucher present.
I think attendees are going to leave the show with greater insights into, and strategies for dealing with, some of the biggest challenges and opportunities they're facing today, an eye toward the future—what trends will be impacting them next—as well as with new connections in the industry who they can continue to exchange ideas with in the future.
It's a really fun and educational environment, and a great forum for meeting and exchanging ideas with your peers.
Extra: Based on your interactions with executives in the book and magazine publishing worlds, what do you see as the biggest challenge facing publishers today?
Skodzinski: That's a tough question. So many challenges exist today—some of which are presented by opportunities. Understanding the e-book opportunity and how to develop a strategy for taking advantage of it; how to prioritize investment in e-books and apps, and adapting internally, while still continuing to grow print sales, which are still extremely important —essentially still the bread and butter for most publishers. The changing retail landscape, with Borders' bankruptcy, and decreasing retail outlets and shelf space—limited ways to get books in front of the consumer, as well as challenges with e-tailing and pricing for e-books. Managing inventory and decreasing returns is another big priority.
And different industry segments face other significant challenges and opportunities. For example, educational publishers are faced with repercussions of the economic recession and school budget cuts, yet higher-ed has seen growth as a result: Many unemployed are going back to school to try to prepare for new careers.
Extra: While this certainly looks like an excellent learning opportunity for attendees, how's the networking?
Skodzinski: You can see a list of everyone who is attending and chat with them "publicly" or “privately,” so it's great for networking.
Plus, in most of the educational sessions, which are essentially webinars, attendees can submit their questions for the speakers to be addressed during the audience question-and-answer segments of each session, and some of our speakers will be checking in and out of the networking lounge throughout the day, so attendees can possibly interact with them there as well. The networking lounge is another great place to chat about sessions and exchange questions and ideas with other attendees.
And, attendees can chat online with exhibitors in a friendly, informative environment. I love it. I always meet a lot of great people, and while we're all working like crazy on the back end, our attendees have a great time and take full advantage of the networking opportunities presented by the virtual environment, and it always ends up being one of my favorite events.
To attend the FREE Publishing Business Virtual Conference & Expo, visit virtual.publishingbusiness.com.