Saturday, August 29, 2009
Today we are most honoured to be joined by Hackpacker, who sends us this missive fresh from the Melbourne Book Festival, as part of our duelling blogs series.
Thursday the MWF got all digital. There were sessions dedicated to marketing in the info age and showing off the latest e-readers. I got along to three sessions but the whole day proved too much of a test of stamina and battery life.
The opening was called the State of Digital Publishing. Victoria Nash and Elizabeth Weiss grappled with the huge subject from the publisher point of view. They were concerned about the rise of the $9.99 e-book and how it had pushed them into what Elizabeth refererred to as "Get all out books out there and have them competing" mentality. Victoria mentioned piracy and how they saw it as "protecting our authors' copyright and obviously our revenues". It all looked very industry-focussed and I felt like the author was out of the picture.
Thirty minutes in Bob Stein got a word in about the future. He pointed out that more than a million books are available on public domain and that the book industry was facing the same challenges that video and music had online. He characterised it as seeing the book as something unique that allowed it "a free pass - I actually think it's going to be worse". It wasn't all grim as cloud computing would change the way we read and Bob pointed to newer shorter forms of writing that would thrive in this environment. Get your flash fiction ready now.
The marketing session was interesting - apparently it's all about community and SEO. But no-one really had a good way to monetise community. Lonely Planet pointed to blogsherpa (sharing traffic with bloggers rather than pays them) and their new groups. While Brett Osmond pointed to sucesses they'd had like a Where the Wild Things Are Facebook page which offered fans (more than 40,000 of them last look) of the book new content. I couldn't help but thinking that a major movie might have pushed up the fan numbers a tad. The AirBourne project Random House conducted looked amazing with 28 chapters contributed by users and the whole manuscript bookended by thriller writer James Patterson. But again it was called "a marketing exercise" rather than a big moneyspinner.
Thank god for Liner Notes' Thriller edition which ended the day on a high. Nick Earls mashed up Beat It with Masterchef while managing to sidestep Weird Al Yankovic's Eat It. But Melbourne's own shone out with Emily Zoey Baker doing a Jeff Goldblum impersonation, Sean M Whelan working his poetic alchemy on "Ma ma se mama sa ma ma coo sa" until the phrase had a new meaning and Ben Pobje told us how long lost twins getting it on was all part of Human Nature. A fitting tribute to the King of Pop that brought tears to the eye.