Some of us still champion the Web as a source of knowledge that empowers without regard to arbitrary boundaries or economic monopolies. When companies avoid engaging in online community building for purely commercial reasons, when their personnel actually enjoy the variety of opportunities to engage with people who care about what the companies are doing, then their brands paradoxically increase in value. Some publishers understand this. It’s easy to tell which ones, because their websites are designed to enable connections among the authors whose books they publish, media and public relations professionals, booksellers, and individual readers.
Back in 2007, Johanna Vondeling, VP of editorial and digital at Berrett-Koehler Publishers, and I discussed the increased attention being paid to online communities—a trend that continues with many more participants today. She gave me a link to the speech that publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin had presented at BookExpo America earlier in 2007, because his predictions had particularly impressed her and her colleagues. I read the speech and was educated by Shatzkin’s analysis of the future for the book publishing industry. When he subsequently launched his blog, The Shatzkin Files, I was quick to add it to my RSS feed. His thoughtful predictions haven’t disappointed.
Next week, those of us who are invigorated by change and more than a little inquisitive about digital book publishing will coalesce at Digital Book World, a new conference chaired by Shatzkin and sponsored by corporations like F+W Media (a publisher for which I’ve written as a freelancer, I must disclose). For a sense of what the upcoming conference will be like, take a look at LaNew-Yorkaise’ summary and the videos, slides, and blogposts capturing the DBW 7x20x21 held at the Bowery Poetry Club earlier this month.
I’ll be pleased to see Vondeling at next week’s event, as well as DBW panelists Christina Katz and Kassia Krozser, publisher Jane Friedman of the Writer’s Digest brand community, and commissioning editor Shivmeet Deol of Hachette India. My idea of fun is spending time with people who love books in whatever form books take.
If you’re planning to be at DBW, I hope to connect with you there or through the DBW Conference Attendees group on LinkedIn.