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Google UnBound Conference, NYC, January 18, 2007
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Google UnBound Conference, NYC, January 18, 2007


Notes from Google UnBound conference for book publishing industry

Notes from Google UnBound conference for book publishing industry

Published in Economy & Finance , Business
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  • 1. Jim Gerber, Content Partnerships Director, Google Introduction
    • Pace of change in technology’s capabilities and pricing
      • Moore’s Law: processing capabilities for a given cost doubles every 24 months
      • Kryder’s Law: storage capacity on hard drives grows at an even faster rate, doubling roughly every 13 months
    • Companies like blurb.com create a printed book from blog entries
    • Technology will no longer be the gating factor in our access to and use of information
      • What amount of video, audio, multimedia content that an iPod will carry in 5, 10, 15 years?
    Trend Implication
    • Scope and proliferation in the Internet is changing consumer behaviour
      • Ubiquitous Internet access
      • Digital natives in younger generations around the world
      • Average consumer spends 14 hours per week (39% of their time) online
    • Increasing interaction with media
      • Reader opinions on newspaper websites
      • “ Rough Cuts” interaction with book readers prior to book’s publication
    • Key players are looking to the future
    • Multiple monetization models
    • Same content, different user experience
    • Large quantities of rich data will allow users to “zoom in” to increasingly rewarding experiences
      • Example: photo with gigapixel camera, zooming in to closer to see increasing detail
  • 2. Angela D’Agostino, VP of Business Dev & Marketing, Bowker State of the Industry Today vs. 10 years ago
    • Fiction looks remarkably unchanged (e.g., John Grisham at #1)
    • Nonfiction in 1995: LIFE (e.g., self-improvement, humour, careers)
    • Nonfiction 2005: DEATH (e.g., alternative medicine, spirituality and religion)
    Bestseller list composition Growth in online channel
    • Online represented 2% of book sales in 1998 => 13% today
      • Growth at the expense of book clubs and traditional retail channels
      • Projected to be 22% of all book sales by 2011 (Forrester)
    • Characteristics of online buyers
      • 40 million US HH have made an online purchase in the past 3 months (“web shoppers”)
      • 8 million HH spend $500+ in last 3 months (“active web shoppers”)
      • Books comprise #1 category of for web shoppers and active web shoppers
      • 42% of web shoppers learn about books from book websites (other than book retailers)
      • 35% of web shoppers learn about books from book retailers
    • On vs. offline growth and decline by category
      • Growth online, decline offline: Heath/fitness, reference, cooking, sci fi/fantasy
      • Growth on and offline: Adult fiction, YA fiction, mystery/suspense, bio/autobiographies
      • Growth offline, decline online: games, sports, recreation, political science
    • Behaviour of today’s students as predictive indicator
      • 93% of students in 2006 access the Internet daily (Student Monitor, Spring 2006)
      • 32% of students have purchased books online in the past year for non-academic use
      • Digital books (nil today, but ~6% in 10 years) and “bundled texts and alternate media” growing (22% of 2006 sales; 28% in 10 years); traditional books from 43% to 28% in 10 years
    Growth in titles and publishers
    • Number of books in print has skyrocketed from 62,000 titles in 1995 to 225,000 titles in 2005
    • New publishers registering for ISBNS: 6,000 new pubs per year in 1990s to 10,000+ today
      • Growth driven by self-publishing (90% of new publishers)
      • Online makes it easier to find relevant audiences for niche content
  • 3. David Worlock, Chairman, Electronic Publishing Services Ltd Observations on the State of the Industry
    • We must root this discussion in the power of the user, who unbalances decision making in traditional publishing
    • On the current state of publishing
      • We lack good ways of describing original network-based developments (“Network publishing”)
      • We have too many useless expressions that try to bridge format and deliver (“eBooks”)
      • Collaboration and strategic alliance are key elements (the publisher cannot manage alone)
      • Diversity and plurality are the distinguishing factors, and influence rights reuse, content remixing, self-publishing
      • Publishers who are trying to sell direct are experiencing the shock of encountering customers
      • Publishing on the network works best in narrowly defined market niches, yet commercially the major players get bigger and consolidate
    • In Worlock’s view of the future of publishing, publishers will
      • Publish printed works
        • Online promotion marketing and sales
        • Author web presence and brand development
      • Facilitate PoD
        • Print required quantity and format (e.g., Point Break Press)
        • Print at a convenient point (ondemandbooks.com)
      • Encourage invention
        • Test market, identify authors
        • Create multimedia platforms
        • Push appropriate activities out to authors
        • Leverage networks to encourage search, community, and efficient workflow
    • Forward looking questions
      • Can the publisher extend his role as impresario? Or are many publishing acts better enacted by authors?
      • What role will mixed revenue models play? (e.g., direct sale, rental, advertising-based, sponsorship)
      • Can publishers create genre-based communities or just recognize them?
      • Are publishers destined to become rights clearance agencies online or will that element become an automated element?
  • 4. Chris Anderson, Wired Magazine On Long Tail observations
    • The long tail is comprised of
      • Lots of books: 172,000 books published in the US in 2005
      • A “head of blockbusters”: Commercially successful books comprised less than 1% of ISBNs in 2004
    • Change arises out of a shift
      • From expensive distribution channels with limited distribution capacity
      • To new marketplaces with infinite shelf space and the economics of abundance
    Quick review of Long Tail Evidence of Long Tail in books
    • In 2004, 6% of books sold more than 5,000 copies (as per Nielsen)
      • Niche titles (<5k units) make up 35% of unit sales
      • Midlist (5,000-50,000) comprises 42% of unit sales
      • Bestsellers (50k+) made up 23% of unit sales
    • Average title sold 500 copies per year
    Conclusions for book publishers
    • Opportunity exists to celebrate the quality and profitability inherent to the LT
      • Non-economic incentives drive the creation of plenty of books
      • Need to find a way to encourage and facilitate the consumption of these titles
      • Need to de-stigmatize the long tail
    • LT can affect book marketing
      • Fewer than 2,000 books/year (1%) will get benefit from a marketing budget
      • Book tour does not reach a sufficiently large audience
      • Book publicist knows a lot about books and key influencers in the book space (e.g., reviewers, radio shows, interviewers)
      • Author knows a lot about book subject, but little about book publicity
      • Therefore, find overlapping space of influencers in book subject area
    • Profit from the long tail by offering self-publishing services (e.g., Lulu)
    • Offer free eBooks and digital samplers
    • Offer free / low-cost audiobook downloads for hardcover purchasers
    • Encourage discovery of long tail titles via Google Book Search
  • 5. Chris Anderson, Wired Magazine On blogging as DIY marketing case study
    • Blogging in parallel with writing
      • 2% of the words in the blog went into the blog
      • Test ideas, phrasing, and focus on the blog, but write the actual book copy offline
    • Bridge article (October 2004) to book (July 2006)
      • Own the meme, feed the meme, be the resource for the best content on the subject
      • Collaborate with readers: tape distributed intelligence and research
      • Beta test / peer review
      • Generate book buzz outside the author’s field of knowledge
    Overview of blog activity Marketing tactics Results
    • Free ARC to any blogger who wants to review it (the long tail of book reviewers)
      • 1,000 copies sent; 900 reviews generated on blogs
      • Act of asking for the book validates a blogger
      • Send electronic versions
    • Free ARC for reader contests
    • Crowdsourcing cover lines, art, etc
    • Meetup.com instead of signings
    • Subtitle and paperback cover created / chosen by blog readers
    • Results in first year: 180 posts, 120,000 words written, 1,600 visitors per day, 5,000 RSS subscribers, ranked #200 on technorati
    • Results today: 5,000 visitors per day, 20,000 RSS subscribers
  • 6.
    • Sell books at a channel agnostic price
      • Make $3 regardless of format
    • Advertising revenue models are going to be tough to implement in books
      • Lacks tradition of media spend habits and effectiveness data
    Seth Godin On opportunities in book publishing Economic models Define publishing in terms of finding ideas and connecting people WOM
    • The enemy is not piracy. The enemy is obscurity.
    • If books are not available and known, you are going to sell books. We cannot become invisible.
    • Joining culture of those who love books
    • Publishers have access to really smart people. The world wants to form communities around those people and wants access to them.
    • Even books that get bad reviews sell well
    • Permission: lets you tell your story. Lets you teach consumers.
      • Chris Anderson has permission to talk to people. His publisher doesn’t.
    • Authors must participate within community
      • There are plenty of poets in the world, but nobody gets paid to be poets anymore.
      • Thomas Pynchon will not be entitled to make $500,000 a year anymore. You cannot be anonymous
    • By putting an idea into the grapevine, the idea will spread
    • Flip the funnel and turn it into a megaphone
    • Give people a tool with which readers can talk about something that matters to them
    • Every time you sell a book, ship an extra to give away
    • Publishers can help shepherd a person from obscurity to success
      • Help authors develop their blog
  • 7.
    • Unleashing the Ideavirus (Seth Godin)
      • Print “souvenir” copy made it to #5 on Amazon, despite a free copy online
    • Eastern Standard Tribe (Cory Doctorow)
      • Free copies online, but it still sells
    Seth Godin On opportunities in book publishing Free digital books Lessons from music industry Other advice
    • There is no music industry, just gangsters who are trying to take advantage
    • Live events pay and the long tail works
    • Entrepreneurs can make a good living via performance
    • The idea that Van Morrison can make $150,000 a night just sleeping is going away
    • The more they fight against it, the worse they do
    • Sell CDs as souvenirs after the concert
    • What we need to learn is not from the music industry, it’s from the musicians
    • Will authors show the publishers how to win in the way musicians have changed music?
    • Prevailing belief among publishers
      • Book publishers oriented their business to the sale of paper, rather than the books in the form desired by customers
      • Publishers should promote books by sharing mass volume of communications to consumers and influencers
    • Publishers have missed opportunities because they define what they do around print books
    • If you think about it as “I’m in the book business and I need to protect it.”, you are doomed. The model is going away anyway.
    • “ My message to publishers is this: Either you are going to be the centre of the universe in 5 years, or you are going to be Pluto.”
    Books as souvenirs
    • Ideas are free, book is the souvenir
    • T-shirts at Disney don’t keep you warm. They hold memories of your vacation.
    • The book is on your shelf so you can remember it fondly.
  • 8. Author panel: Cory Doctorow, Author, Blogger, Academic
    • Released full text of first book under Creative Commons at time of print publication
      • Suite of licenses created to allow authors and other producers of content to grant permissions to an audience
      • Audience could only distribute content
      • 30,000 copies distributed within first 24 hours
    • Upon publication of second novel ( Eastern Standard Tribe ), changed license of first novel to allow audience to change the content
    • With third novel, high income countries could distribute it freely and developing nations could do whatever they want with the content
    • First short story collection sold out of its print run in 2 weeks
    • 750,000 copies distributed; 10s of thousands sold
      • Poor conversion rate by some measures
      • But not worse than the conversion seen when people pick up a book off the shelf and put it down
    Free digital books as promotional tool BoingBoing.net
    • Under Wired masthead
    • Give away as much content as possible
    • Reading novels (substitute for audiobooks)
    • Imperfections create familiarity and authenticity for readers
    • You’ll go see your brother’s friend’s band, not because they are great, but because they are associated with your brother’s friend
    • Gives authors a chance to perform in a way that audiobooks read by a professional narrator don’t
  • 9. Author panel: Cory Doctorow, Author, Blogger, Academic
    • Readers are actively engaged in the work
      • More than an ambulatory wallet
    • No one has ever succeeded by telling customers that what they want is wrong
    • Social activity should surround writing
      • Making a copy and giving it to someone else is a social act
      • eBooks are made for copying and excerpting into sig files
    • Readers have a leisure surplus
      • More interesting stuff available at a click than we have time to discover
      • So much stuff competing for our attention, that making something 2 clicks away is foolish
      • Who decided that old newspaper articles were worth charging money for, but new news should be given away free?
    Reader engagement Future of eBooks
    • Factors working against the replacement of print books by ebooks
      • People who do read books have a deep emotional attachment to print format
      • Books appeal to people who are purvy for print books
      • Traditional media will become quaint or become transformed
    • You don’t read eBooks off the screen
      • Long form narrative is poorly suited to interruptions from other things on the PC/Internet
      • Attention conservation principle
        • Short blogs
        • Filter via headline, excerpt
    • How do you make books more relevant to people who sit at computer all day?
  • 10. Author panel: Cory Doctorow, Author, Blogger, Academic Book search
    • Should work like web search – no one company should control it, should not be proprietary
    • When you search the web about a topic, books, along with webpages, should pop up
    • As soon as you let a company like Apple be in charge of exclusive distribution, you are screwed
      • Edgar Bronfman Sr. went to Switzerland and got the Nazi gold. Edgar Bronfman Jr. went to Cupertino and couldn’t get $1.50 per song
    • Intershelving old and new books: “Used titles are a gateway drug to new titles”
    • What can Amazon not do? Have authors sign a bunch of stock and sell via independents
      • If publishers can get authors to sign before shipping, then there is something publishers can do uniquely
    Economic models
    • My problem wasn’t piracy, it was obscurity
    • From authors’ perspectives, more fame is more money for speaking, board seats for authors
    • Why don’t more people care about literature enough to steal books? That’s what we should be trying to figure out.
    • Books are as hard to copy today as they will ever be. It’s only going to get easier
      • DRM doesn’t work. If it worked, the software industry would use it.. If it worked, you’d see it on Microsoft product.
  • 11. Author panel: JA Konrath
    • Success lies in what you have to offer, not in what you have to sell
    • How to use audience aggregators (e.g., YouTube)
    Publisher mindset Author brand
    • Define author brand in 3-4 words/phrases
    • Authors should spend 90% of nonwriting time getting brand out there
    • Just knowing an author’s name is not enough
    • Need name recognition coupled with a positive experience, entertainment, information
    Book marketing
    • Top down advertising: kill a gnat with a sledgehammer
      • Reach a small number of readers by broadcasting to people, most of whom have no interest
    • Bottom up advertising: reach people who you know are interested
      • Dropped into 612 bookstores in 29 states
      • Free signed book to bookseller
      • Help handselling by reciting short pitch aligning book to 4 bestsellers
    • Searching for mice or throw cheese in the corner and wait for the mice to come to you
    • While we are targeting readers, there are readers who are actively looking for you
    • With an online presence, publishers can give readers entertainment, information, awareness
    • Stickiness
      • Low stickiness associated with ad for a book
      • Content, excerpts, newsletter, free backlist books will be high stickiness
      • Blog entries from 2 years ago still generate comments
    • Myspace: Share fans with big name authors
    • Websites dedicated to single title
      • More than book trailer; need forums for fan discussion, author talks, screensavers
    • Portable, multiple formats: buy 1 book, all formats
    • Buy chip with 20 Stephen King books for $30
  • 12. Author panel: Josh Kilmer-Purcell
    • Memorist Collective
    • Collaborative promotional efforts across authors
    • Publicists working together across the houses
    Case example
    • 43% of Internet users who are members of online communicate say that they feel as strongly about their virtual community as they do about their physical communities
    • 20% of online community emmbers take action offline that relates back to their community
      • e.g., buying books
    • Made lots of friends
    • Blogged
    • Joint myspace page, combine individual friends, blog about each other, contest to get introduction to agent
    • Writing contest with winning memoir proposal being read by editors at 3 major publishing houses
      • Press release: 2618 Google hits, 8853 blog and myspace mentions
      • 1200 entries, 40K+ blog hits
      • Announced winner via live podcast
      • Viral video thanking each entrant personally
    • 13,000+ myspace connections in place for authors’ next books
    • Compilation of video from drag queen days
    • Reviews at the end of the clip (mimicking a movie trailer)
    Stats MySpace activities Viral video
  • 13. Tim O’Reilly, O’Reilly Media
    • Look at killer apps of new millennium: google, eBay, yahoo, amazon.com, mapquest, craiglist, myspace
    • All information businesses - should we call them publishers too?
    • Joining software and publishing
    • Software delivered as a service, not a shrink-wrapped package
    • Internet as platform, no longer the PC
    • Uses the network to get better
    • Take something that someone has done and make it better
      • Mash-ups: housingmaps.com
      • Google: every time someone makes a web link, they contribute to search results
      • eBay: critical mass of buyers and sellers makei t hard for others to enter the market
      • Amazon: more than 10 MM user reviews
      • Craigslist: self-service classified ads with few employees
    • Content as database
      • The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think (E. Schlossberg)
      • The skill of programming is to create a context in which other people can share
    What is Web 2.0? Redefining book publishing
    • Harry Potter: creating imaginary world…same business as World of Warcraft
    • Britannica: reference…same as wikipedia
    • Google is a partner and an enabler of our new competitors
  • 14. Tim O’Reilly, O’Reilly Media O’Reilly Book Model
    • Teaching
    • Reference
    • Edutainment
    • Content in searchable database that integrates with Google
    • Not ebooks: Web-services enabled content database
    • Buy print book, buy pdf (for less), buy subscription to Safari Books
    • Rough Cuts = perpetual beta reveals books while under development
      • 60% chose PDF
      • 36% pdf+print
      • 4% print only
    • SafariU Remix: create customized course materials
    • Search changes the reading experience
      • People read less than 5% of any book in any given month
      • Long tail drives access to older content
      • 23% of Safari views
      • 6% of print book sales
    Safari Books Online