BookMachine’s NY Premier: Digital, Digital, Digital! [REVIEW]

Ellen JacobThis is a guest post from Ellen Jacob, who is a long-time children’s publishing veteran. She now heads up jacob packaged goods/bookerella creating children’s book-apps and transmedia projects.

Digital: that was the topic of conversation at BookMachine’s inaugural New York event as more than 70 publishing folks gathered at The Iguana, club on W 54th St.

I always wonder what book folks mean when they say “digital.” It’s so broad.

Do they mean publishing on an electronic platform? Making pdfs of existing books? Or exploring the limits? The technology allows so much, but, sadly, few publishers are able to financially support the exploration.

And while I’m a big proponent of the democratization of publishing which digital allows, I worry about the erosion of our aesthetic standards. I love that anyone can publish, but if work isn’t good—and, lets face it, lots of mediocre and bad work is published—the audience has no guide to what is truly good and we, as a society, can lose our collective sense of what is considered great. We all need good editors.

(Full disclosure, I come from traditional publishing, am and also am an app creator, having published Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night, the first 3D book app for kids.)

So, with all this in mind, I was delighted to have an event where traditional publishing folks and non-traditional disrupters could mingle.

Here are some of voices I heard…

Mary McAveney, MSM Book Marketing:

I see the hot topics as being at two opposite ends of the spectrum. You’re seeing Random House buying Penguin and the big conglomerates coming together and getting even bigger and then you’re seeing this sort of democracy of publishing through Amazon where self-published authors are proliferating and even the major houses like Simon & Schuster are wooing those kinds of programs… I think the digital age is really shaking things up.

Laura Ferguson, Simon & Schuster:

This is my first BookMachine event. It’s interesting to get everyone together in the publishing industry with so much change going on… It’s a great venue.

Joelle Fiss, author,Tiptoeing on Minefields:

It’s about Middle East politics. In particular it’s about Jews and the state of Israel and the kind of dialogue they should be having about contentious issues… I’m looking for an agent.

Elisabeth Watson, Publishing Trends and Publishing Trendsetter:

I’ve been rather enviously reading the Book Machine goings-on online for a few months now and when I heard they were coming to NY I figured it was my very professional duty to show up!

Rebecca Westall, Hachette Book Group:

Digital is the big thing. It’s getting more and more and everyone is trying to find the best way to capitalize on it.

Amy R. Bromberg:

Find me on Twitter on @amyrbromberg!: Having a blast at the first BookMachine event, the first N-Y-C event! Should authors go self-publishing or should they go traditional publishing? Will more of the big houses merge or will they disappear?

Betsy Robinson, self-help and inspiration editor:

Publishing today is the wild-wild west and its very exciting. It’s constantly changing and reinventing itself and I’m part of it!

Heather Drucker, HarperCollins:

I’m here because there is this great BookMachine web site and I wanted to hear more about it. It’s about social media and I think it’s really important that the authors and the publicists and the marketers all work together to promote their books through social media because… you just get people more people talking about books and reading books that they wouldn’t have known before. Its really, really, really important.

Sean Vidal, QuadGraphics:

I think… interactive solutions, image recognition and augmented reality are going to become very prevalent in the marketplace; everyone is going to be doing it as well as 3D on our digital publishing platform.

CeCe Yuan, BBDO:  

I’m here to meet fellow dream-makers and movers and shakers and to just really connect with people and see what they’re pursuing.

Cynthia Jabar, illustrator and author:

I think small niche and cross platform storytelling is the big storytelling picture.

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