The FutureBook debates ahead: Red flags in #FutureChat

The FutureBook debates ahead: Red flags in #FutureChat

Regular #FutureChat participants, please note that we will forgo our discussion this Friday, 14th November, in favor of live coverage from The FutureBook Conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster.

Introductory comments are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. London time (GMT) / 4:30 a.m. ET / 3:30 a.m. Central / 1:30 a.m. Pacific /  10:30 a.m. Rome.

Delegates to The FutureBook Conference are typically among the most agile tweeters in the business -- you'll find the hashtag #FutureBook14 offering a lively stream.

Our Epilogger is here, at this writing already with nearly 2,000 tweets.


If our #FutureChat crowd's reactions to some of author and entrepreneur George Berkowski's comments are any indication, Berkowski's keynote commentary at The FutureBook Conference on Friday should be a major conversation starter.

There's still time to secure a last-minute seat. Bookings close on Tuesday (11th November) for the conference on Friday (14th).

Berkowski's keynote colleagues are WGSN global chief content officer Carla Buzasi and, in a live conversation with my Bookseller colleague Philip Jones, Penguin Random House UK ceo Tom Weldon.

As Jones writes in his 24 hours left to book countdown, "As the industry looks forward, it must also look out."

He goes on:

The world they [Berkowski and Buzasi] have thrived in is different from the world of publishing and the lessons we need to learn from it are plentiful. Berkowski will highlight how mobile will change the environment around us, while Buzasi will talk about understanding the fast-moving consumer trends that will result.

Along those same lines, I expect some may be challenged by parts of what telecoms commentator Alastair Nash had to say to me in my #PorterMeets interview with him last week, Barriers falling. Nash talks of how the major telecoms originally responded to the digital dynamic.

Initially they tried to do everything in-house but that was too slow and bureaucratic. So they switched and now are putting a lot of energy and moneyu into building start-up ecosystems." 

Such start-up supportive ecosystems are, as yet, less prevalent in publishing, of course. Maybe we need to think about that?

In our #FutureChat Friday, we started with  Berkowski's assertions that in the digital arena, companies must "cannibalise their business," something that, as Ricardo Fayet noted, the tech world may be more comfortable with than is the books community:

As Carla Douglas pointed out, the concept of repurposing and reiterating content isn't such a stretch to us nowadays: Some of our #FutureChat-ers already were off on other elements of a potential future for many books, referencing our colleague Alexandra Alter's New York Times piece on a product placement pilot effort in a book. One of Berkowski's most challenging objections is to chronically low wages in much of publishing. From Jane Steen in Chicago: And in a tangential discussion, chatters were worried about the bid to "know your reader" and raise an audience through community effort. This line of discussion drew Berkowski, himself, to drop in on #FutureChat: And he'd made a response to an assertion in the chat on payment of developers: What was being demonstrated by this point in the discussion is how circular many of the arguments and debates in publishing today become. As topics, wages, rights, territoriality, working with start-ups (or not), content commitment and other issues touched on by Berkowski lie very close to each other and can be interpreted in ways that might surprise observers. For example, as Dan Wood was discussing D2C issues for publishers: ...James Scott Bell was speaking up for a use of "perma-free" for first books in a serial: In one area -- critical thinking -- Jane Steen seemed to be getting close to a problem both in many readerships and in the industry, itself: And that point, about cream's competition for the top: As we saw in this warmup to the conference, "there will be resistance to George Berkowski's views," per Jones' comment, at The FutureBook Conference on Friday. Certainly, this was evident in the free-ranging and multilayered #FutureChat that resulted from some of his thinking. We're looking forward to hearing what he has to say. If you can't be with us on-site, you're welcome to  follow along as we hash it #FutureBook14. Berkowski speaks first, at 9:40 GMT. Keep a weather eye out.
#FutureChat will return Friday 21st November at its usual times: 4 p.m. London, 5 p.m. Rome, 11 a.m. New York, 8 a.m. Los Angeles. Main image - Shutterstock: Tamara Kushsh