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Thursday, October 28, 2010

For Love of the Written Word

For Love of the Written Word is the motto of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF). It is my last day attending the Fair by invitation of their Director, Ahmed Al Amri who I am happy to call a friend as well. The motto is especially fitting of the support and patronage provided by Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah because it his passion for literacy and education that he put into creating the fair, now in its 29th year. Another of SIBF's core missions is promoting literacy and culture as a way for understanding and building ties across all geographic lines. As it has matured and grown SIBF has increasingly invested in providing a professional element to the fair by bringing leading figures from both UK and US publishers to offer insights on the latest developments in publishing, technology and best practices. SIBF is a dynamic book fair, with over 40,000 people visiting every day. It is an especially strong market for childrens books and academic, professional and scientific books, a large amount of which is in English.

A new program this year awarded books in 3 categories, Bestseller, Childrens and Business. The SIBF winners were Stalking the Black Swan by Columbia University Press, How Many Donkeys by Albert Whitman & Co. and Piracy by Univ. of Chicago Press. SIBF invited representives from each press here to receive their awards, which included a cash award that was about $3,500. For each of them it was not only a privilege to receive the award, it also gave them an insight into a new market for their books. Each went away brimming with ideas on how to work in this part of the world with their books.

As always, by this time on the road, I look forward to walking getting back to my family more than anything else, but I will leave Sharjah having had a productive fair while renewing many dear friendships from the Arab world.
Sincerely,
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Steven Rosato
Event Director-BookExpo America
srosato@reedexpo.com
Sent from my BlackBerry

Friday, October 8, 2010

Frankfurt and the future

Frankfurt day 3, tomorrow is get away day (I can not wait to walk through my front door - this is too long).   It has been tremendously productive fair.  I have heard some people complain that there are 'less' people in the aisles which is crazy to me - of course there are less people.  How many people in publishing were laid off in the last 2 years?  Too many for sure, but the people that are here are here to do business.  Booths have been humming with activity and my calendar has been full.  Frankfurt also has done a nice job with their Story Drive programs which has stages and programming in the exhibit halls, with most of the programs focused on 'content' and delivery.  I have not sat through many of the sessions, but did peak in on many of them as I buzzed through the aisles from appointment to appointment and they were well attended.  I look forward to combing through the show dailies for coverage on some of the topics, but it is driving the conversation on new formats and delivery with the majority of people I am talking with this week.  

I have to remark on how viceral the emotional attachment is to the printed book.   I say this because it is a topic that dominates conversations with people seeing business models being transitioned one way or another by the digital convergence.  Being pro digital is like wearing a Sarah Palin, NAMBLA t-shirt - you are shoveling dirt onto the coffin that is the publishing industry as we know it.   That train has left the station because publishing is radically different than just a few years ago.   Printed books will remain an important part of that future.  Two things I will reference are 3rd party - one being O'Reilly at their Tools of Change program had a slide showing their digital sales with the expected dramatic growth slope - but that also showed increased digital led to increased print sales for the same titles.  I saw quote from Dominique Raccah from Sourcebooks explaining spikes print sales that they attributed to digital products, either digital books or apps from the printed books.  Print and digital are NOT mutually exclusive  - they are dependently connected.  That is the future. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

MIPCOM's Big Players Program

I have to share some irony as I have 3 hours to kill trapped in the Nice airport, my reading choice is Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. It is stunning fiction, but I am not feeling very 'free'.

I wanted to share highlights I got at one of MIPCOM's Big Players series. It offered insights and the out look for broadcasting and media for the coming 5 years. Marcel Fenez, Global Leader (great job title) for Entertainment & Media of Price Waterhouse Coopers first presented then had a conversations with Nonce Paoline - Chairman/CEO of TF1 (France's largest media company) and John Smith, Chief Executive of BBC Worldwide. The subject matter was most appliciple to Movies, TV, Video and Internet - but it is relevant to publishing and should be instructive for anyone looking forward.

The major focus for resources and growth will be mobile. That is because technology is catching up with expectations that have existed for years. There will be more choice, more products and more information coming to people via their mobile devices (will that kill the PC???). For consumers, content trumps channels. Consumers will break existing habits and convenience to get good content. Consumers will pay for: quality, convenience and enriched content (using the example of paying a hefty premium to experience music live vs. hearing it in any other format that you aleady have for free). The poor economy accelerated digital transition as people did more and got more on-line. That change will not erode and is permanent.

Mr. Fenez detailed his insights of digital evolution. It will transpire in 3 parts:
1. Digital Migration: Existing products and information move into digital formats to leverage techology and cost benefits.
2. Digital Acceleration: Current formats adapt to consumers wants and needs that are altered by new technology.
3. Digital Transformation: New products and services leverage the market that is created by existing products that were transformed - think of mobile apps.

It was interesting to note that most televion and media (outside of print) will see growth over the next 5 years. One example was that TV subscriptions revenues will increase by 6% in the US where Asia will see almost 12% growth 2010-2014.

One example that stuck with me was that the BBC chose to focus their efforts on the US market and have doubled their revenue in a few years to $440mm and that only represents one half of one percent of the market. That is random in the context of this post, but impressive in that the BBC was able to develop a strategy in an existing market that was growing more slowly than other global opportunities and competed with massive US providers and still doubled their revenues.
Sincerely,
------------------------
Steven Rosato
Event Director-BookExpo America
srosato@reedexpo.com
Sent from my BlackBerry

Now departing Cannes

I could not get a photo of myself using the ticketing machine, so I am posting the view from the room I have checked out of at the Ermatage in Mandelieu la Napoule - it is 2 train stops on the regional train from Cannes. French trains are efficient, but times are only an estimate. I will post details from MIPCOM later as I will spend a chunk of my day getting from here to Frankfurt - giving me plenty of time to kill and post. I was happy (and surprised) that I figured out how to purchase the train ticket as the instruction is in French. The other photo was from the shuttle ride to the Palais for my morning meeting today. You can see the waves crashing over the sea wall and coming up onto the road - kinda cool...and scary...
Sincerely,
------------------------
Steven Rosato
Event Director-BookExpo America
Mobile: +203-913-8700 srosato@reedexpo.com
Sent from my BlackBerry

Saturday, October 2, 2010

On the road again......with not necessarily news

This time off to MIPCOM in route to the Frankfurt Book Fair. First things first -there is a spec of optimism is on the horizon. Reading an article in the NY Times today about the controversial TARP funds that were used to bail out banks, the auto industry and AIG. As AIG is reorganizing and organizing its plans to pay back the US government, things are looking rosey. The initial program set aside $700 billion dollars. In the end, as dispersements have been suspended, only $387 billion was allocated of the $700 billion that was approved and available. Nearly $100 billion has alreadyu been paid back - with interest. Depending on how quickly the auto industry can pay back the funds they were doled and if AIG is able to get on track and make full restitution, there is a a chance that the US taxpayer will make money on their TARP investment. From the times article, the range is a worse case scenario of losing $70 billion to an optimistic projection of netting $70 billion profit. Mind you I am making quotes from an article I read 5 hours ago, but if I am off, it is not by much. Considering your tea drinking neighbors will lead you to believe that $700 billion went up in vapors and that was the doing of Mr. Obama. To give full credit - GW Bush is the one that initiated the TARP program. I am optimistic it served its purpose in propping up the economy and saved it from caving in on itself. The article next to it also detailed that the economy grew by a surprising 1.7% last month, a full 1% more than anticipated.

Moving on from that positive news, which was one of few things (aside from my boys' picture for our Xmas cards) that put a smile on my face today - it buoyed my plans and purpose for going to MIPCOM. At the heart of BEA, the core will always be books, booksellers and authors - but BEA has to be a content event. That sounds like a generic, outside the synergy box type of business-speak jargon. It is not - in my heart and soul, I don't see books going away. However, what is next should be exciting and not scary. No one is sure what is next for publishing. I am certain about one thing - books are stories and content and there will be more formats, platforms and devices for them to be produced and consumed in the next five years than there have been in the last 100 years. Publishing is the fuel of the content engine. That is why BEA will be transformed to make certain that it is an event about content in its nascent form and that is ready to be consumed in books, on digital or mobile devices and be repurposed on-line, developed for movies and television or any place else that content will tell a story, entertain, inform, educate and inspire. My plan at MIPCOM is to marry the fuel of publishing content to the content engine that the entertainment industry represents. More dispatches to follow.

Also best wishes to Lance and Greg for NY Comicon next weekend. I am missing it for the first time since the epic 1st one in 2007. I have only been a spare part helper the last few years as Lance and Greg have driven that show to the great event it has become. I will miss it.
Sincerely,
------------------------
Steven Rosato
Event Director-BookExpo America
srosato@reedexpo.com
Sent from my BlackBerry