'Agile' publishing at Digital Book World

Publishers may be falling out of love with apps, but they need to fall in love with their consumers, according to talk at Digital Book World, the New York-based e-book conference, which opened today (24th January). 

Statistics presented at the beginning of the show, and based on research undertaken by Digital Book World and Forrester Research among 74 US book executives, showed that 15% of US publishers think that apps represent a significant revenue opportunity, down from 34% a year ago. However, 75% of publishers produce apps, even though half of all publishers think that apps cost too much to produce. According to a report from Publishers Marketplace, Forrester's James McQuivey also found that 70% of those executives indicated that to succeed in the future, they "must have a direct consumer relationship", with 66% now intent on investing in "acquiring customer data".
At the follow-up c.e.o panel Sourcebooks chief executive and publisher Dominique Raccah argued that building audience participation before the writing and publication of a book was a way to help readers discover new work, as well as leading to greater sales. Raccah used the event to unveil a new, rapid and interactive publishing model where the content evolves through authors and their communities. Raccah said the model allowed for a more modern form of publishing where readers were involved in the end product.
According to a report on DBW's own website, Raccah told the audience: “We’re going to develop the book and build a community [around it] and the community is going to influence how the book is developed.”
The Agile Publishing Model promises to make the development of books, e-books, videos and other content faster with real-time feedback from readers and viewers. She said: “The traditional publishing model—long schedules, creating in a vacuum, lack of involvement with the readers of the end product—drives some authors crazy. This model is a great fit for experts who are highly immersed in their field and where the field is evolving rapidly.”
Raccah said the model was inspired by work done by O’Reilly Media. “What was really interesting to me was having a physical book come at the end of a community-building process,” Raccah said. Entering the Shift Age, by futurist and advisor David Houle, who is also speaking at Digital Book World, will be the first book published under the Sourcebooks Agile Publishing Model in autumn 2012.
Raccah invited attendees of the conference to receive an exclusive e-book, featuring an excerpt from The Shift Age and a compilation of his publishing-related columns, and will be invited to join the Entering the Shift Age blog that will serve not only as the community site for review and discussion of the book, but also as a platform for the development of the Sourcebooks APM.
According to Publishers Marketplace, Digital Book World conference chair Mike Shatzkin also addressed interacting with the consumer in his opening address. "Until very recently, when we'd sold the customer the book, our job was complete. Not any more. Every book sold can be the beginning of a conversation that can lead to more engagement and ultimately more sales," he said.