IPG: Publishers face 'Copernican shift' from digital

<p>Digital was to the fore at this year&#39;s Independent Publishers Guild conference, with discussions ranging from having the right metadata to working with the games industry.<br /><br />The tone for the weekend, held this year for the first time in Old Windsor, was set by the first seminar, a high-tech talk on XML from Magellan Media&#39;s Brian O&#39;Leary. He highlighted the importance of &quot;agile&quot; content, claiming there was a &quot;Copernican shift&quot; in the market, which was putting content, rather than the physical book, at the centre.<br /><br />O&#39;Leary stressed that XML - the basis of &quot;agile&quot; content - was far more important for IPG delegates than ONIX, adding that publishers should &quot;invest now, or pay in conversion costs and lost revenues later&quot;.<br /><br />This was followed by a &quot;health check&quot; on the state of digital contracts by Copytrain&#39;s Richard Balkwill, who discussed a number of areas including the Google Settlement, Creative Commons, libel, copyright and indemnities.<br /><br />Balkwill urged publishers to give their contracts a health check, emphasising the many changes being ushered in by digital content.<br /><br />Will Atkinson, former IPG chairman and sales and marketing director of Faber, talked delegates through a &quot;history of e-books&quot; according to Faber&#39;s experience: the &quot;long and consuming task&quot; of renegotiating rights to include digital areas, and the growth in revenues - from 0.1% of Faber&#39;s overall sales a year ago to around 2.5% now. Atkinson drew analogies with the film world, rather than music, by comparing the publisher&#39;s release of content to the release of films on cinema, DVD, box set, and public appearances.<br /><br />The digital theme continued on the second day of the conference, with the keynote speech from Bill Thompson, who told attendees that efforts to stop e-piracy were destined to fail, and they should accept piracy as a fact of life. &quot;Attempts to use technology to lock out your customers will always fail,&quot; he said.<br /><br />Dan Hon of consultancy Six to Start exhorted publishers to get involved in other media, noting that &quot;the games industry is full of people who are very good at making games - but not good at all at making stories&quot;.<br /><br />The speakers also highlighted the benefits of being small and &quot;nimble&quot;, with Peter Mayer of Duckworth stressing this gave publishers the upper hand in dealing with agents, while Jonathan Glasspool of Bloomsbury Academic said this enabled them to be closer to the readers.</p>