#FutureChat recap: Publishing innovation

#FutureChat recap: Publishing innovation

Pushback and pull forward...If there had been any doubt about the scepticism encountered around digital cookbooks, you could find some verification in The FutureBook.net community's #FutureChat on publishing innovation. Alta Editions' Chris McBride, in our walkup to the #FutureChat, had spoken of how the cookbook sector has seemed to lag some other parts of the books industry in digital development. And as the deadline arrived for entries in The FutureBook Innovation Awards 2o14 (#FBIA2014), it might have been possible to hear a vote or two for -- gosh! -- paper in cookbooks. Starting with London-based author and editor Roz Morris, who arrived with a flour-and-eggs edition of marginalia in mind: Not that every reaction was a "nay" to the idea of interactive, Web-app digital evocations of great chefs' recipes. From Michigan's Camille LaGuire: From Lance Schaubert in Brooklyn: From Abby Quillen in Eugene, Oregon: And from London's Tim Lewis, what we might call the all-in-one solution: But when it came to that simmering question of the pace of publishing innovation in general, London's Tom Chalmers had an interesting early perspective to offer from a political viewpoint: This is a counter-intuitive observation not limited to the UK, by any means. The US cultural landscape frequently has shown some reticence to change, especially amid the digital dynamic, despite the fact that some might expect creative businesses to leap ahead of the pack. In Kingston, Ontario, Carla Douglas was looking for indications that publishers' innovations are tied to the interests of their readers: Damien Walter's comment about publishers needing to invest in writers -- -- may prove timely, in that The Bookseller was, just that day, reporting on the advances that publishers' portals for authors are making in terms of providing new levels of information and insight to their writers. Sarah Shaffi, in Publishers' portals look to inform authors, writes:
More than 700 authors and 75 agencies have registered for Random House’s Author Portal since its launch six months ago, although it is still not available to Penguin authors. The Author Portal opened at the end of February, offering sales data to authors and agents and subscriber access to The Bookseller, as well as—like Cambridge University Press’ Author Hub—advice and guidance for writers. HarperCollins will join CUP and Random House in offering its own author portal, Author Direct, which is currently being built.
Chalmers added that in university presses, as well as trade, innovative moves are under way: London's Caleb Woodbridge pointed out that all that looks new and shiny may not be: Denver's Claudia Christian wondered if there's a point at which the industry gets ahead of those readers' needs: She also asked about what publishers are doing, since some in the group seemed to think that innovation isn't happening in the major houses. Happily, I could refer her to several resources from The FutureBook's work, including: - Philip Jones' survey of close to a dozen notable innovative efforts - Our piece on Headline Publishing Group's Bookbridgr outreach program for book bloggers - The kind of author-portal development many publishers are starting to prioritize for their writers, as mentioned - This summer's news about HarperCollins' direct-to-consumer sales site launches (US and UK) - And even the recent HarperCollins-BitLit joint pilot in bundling print and ebook purchases       Just an editorial comment of my own here: It came across to me in the course of our good #FutureChat that a lot of folks either don't have the time or the inclination to read enough industry press to realize how much innovation actually is being housed and promulgated, sometimes by the biggest publishers among us. I was surprised, for example, to find that even Random House's development of the My Independent Bookshop initiative was news to some of our community members. It's good to see this element of what The FutureBook.net can do in action -- some of our colleagues ended our #FutureChat knowing more than they had about what's in the works. It does take time, some diligence, some focused effort, to keep up with rapid industry change and movement during times of disruption, yes. But this is what professionals in many fields face continually, not just in publishing. Not for nothing have medical people always had a thing or two to say about the stack of journal reading they had trouble handling amid other duties. London's Woodbridge had an interesting point on the way out: The group seemed agreed that the focus on readers and on the reader-author axis may, in fact, be the ultimate aim of much innovation -- and that in making these efforts, we learn more about what else to try and do. And that's a good view on where we're headed: eyes open. More in our next #FutureChat on Friday.
Join us each Friday for a #FutureChat session with The Bookseller’s FutureBook community. We’ll be live on Twitter, at 4 p.m. London time, 11 a.m. New York time, 8 a.m. Los Angeles, 5 p.m. Berlin, 3 p.m. GMT.  The Bookseller Children's Conference 2014Seats are still available for The Bookseller Children's Conference, 25th September at Southbank Centre. Hurry: bookings close Friday 19th September. The FutureBook basicRegistration now is open for The FutureBook Conference 2014 -- 14th November at Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster. (#FutureBook14) Main photo - Shutterstock: chippix