Special Report: Publishing Business Conference and Expo 2012: Excellence and Innovation Take Center Stage
Make sure your authors are on board with these efforts, Leaver said, by encouraging them to utilize social media to connect with fans in a meaningful way. Encourage all authors to see themselves as engaging in brand, rather than book-by-book, marketing, taking a long view of accumulating sales in an era where titles do not need to be on the shelf of your local brick-and-mortar to sell. Fully 60 percent of Sterling's revenue comes from the backlist, Leaver said.
"Our biggest challenge will not be ebooks," he said. "Our biggest challenge will be in putting all of the above together so publishers can continue to be necessary."
Aggregation: Friend or Foe?
For the morning's third keynote event, New York Times media columnist David Carr engaged in conversation with Josh Quittner, editorial director at news and social media aggregator Flipboard.
A sophisticated aggregation app, Flipboard creates a "natural, paginated interstitial" mimicking the print magazine experience to make content more appealing, Quittner said. The company shares some of the revenue from featured advertising with publisher partners.
Carr confessed his love for Flipboard but compared the newfangled platform to a well-dressed young male offering to be his wingman at a bar—what is he really after with the partnership? "I'm thinking to myself, friend? Enemy? Frenemy?" he said to chuckles from the crowd. "Should we love you or fear you?"
"I would not have gone to Flipboard if I did not believe it was part of the solution for publishers," replied Quittner, who left Time Inc. for the venture-backed startup last year. Flipboard and other apps like it, he said, can help publishers capitalize on the great opportunity afforded by digital media.
Carr compared Flipboard to Twitter, which he called "a human-enabled RSS," because the curation role passes out of the hands of editors to be taken over by social media contacts. With its "cover story" feature, Flipboard takes this a step further, curating the curators by sorting through all of a user's connections to pull out the most interesting content.