Last week I attended one of my favorite shows: the Publishing Business Conference & Expo in NYC. This year’s theme was “Cashing in with Cross-Media Content,” and no matter what part of the industry you identify with, the information was relevant and thought provoking. The Conference proper took place the first two days, followed by a half-day TH(ink) E-Reading Summit. Though these events cater to book and magazine executives, much of what I heard applied to those of us working in or with commercial print and e-media. We are all in the communications business. I guess today you could also call it the content-delivery business, but that really doesn’t roll off the tongue.
Let me tell you about this show. Though you’d expect me to start at the beginning (“a very good place to start”), forgive me if I start my reporting at the end of it. The closing keynote by the one-and-only Bo Sacks was a mind-blowing ride through the incredible progress of publishing, tablets, and all-things “E.”
No one could’ve delivered a better finale than Bo, who somehow managed to give a terrific synopsis of the two days’ worth of sessions, having written it in the wee hours the night before the last day (presumably). His words painted a memorable parting picture for all of us to take away and savor.
We’re facing a time of hope and opportunity, niches and media-agnostic content. We are faced with the tired, old “print is dead” position daily, but it’s not dead, not by a long shot.
With a whip-smart combo of Photoshopped pictures and witty captions, Bo Sacks gave a closing commentary that carried us along on publishing’s historical journey. Among the many memorable sound bites I took away were these – please note: he cited several speakers, but I didn’t catch everyone’s name.
Sound Bites from Bo’s Commentary
Everything is possible. Let’s break down what we think a magazine is and rethink it.
Our role as publishers hasn’t changed. Looking for death is looking in the wrong place.
The not-so-distant is not-so-scary. This is the best golden age this industry’s had in a long time.
Quality will be the best predictor of success.
It’s not the challenge of adapting but the fundamental shift in communication patterns: this has been changed forever.
Ebooks went from nothing to a billion-dollar market in a few short years.
There is now a non-need for physical ownership (of information, content): this is a difference between traditional reader and the screenager (love that term!).
Bo quoted Jeff Jarvis: “Media is not built for relationships because our industry was born in a time of factories, not services. We rarely know who our readers are…and we still call them readers.”
“The digital era exposed the folly of past publishing practices,” said speaker Josh Tyrangiel, Editor, Bloomberg Businessweek.
Great stuff finds us.
Publishers should lose their ‘possession-based’ temperament.
How well is old media competing?
Consider this: everyone is a broadcaster.
Truth is substrate indifferent.
Our franchise is not paper.
1 in 3 Americans now owns a tablet device.
What hasn’t changed is the need to read.
Is database now king - and not content?
Mass marketing is turning into a mass of niches. Niches is where we’re going to make our millions. (And, he added, “there’s gold in them thar hills.”)
Content is more important than the delivery vehicle.
Content marketing has arrived.
The new style of publishing? Universal Niche.
“If the news is that important, it will find me,” said Jeff Jarvis.
David Carr of the New York Times said, “We put the white paper out to get the green paper back.”
“It is the top of the first inning and there is only one out,” someone said it last year, said Bo.
Rethink the unthinkable.
Be prepared: let’s break down what we think a magazine is and construct something different.
We have reached a watershed moment in the history of publishing.
Rethink the unthinkable.
If I had to name the key takeaway from Bo’s remarks, it would be that the business of publishing is bursting with opportunity.
Every conference needs a Bo. I hope there’s one “coming to a theater near you.” In the meanwhile, go to www.bosacks.com and sign up for his daily e-newsletter. While you’re there, check out the “Who Is BoSacks?” page to see where he’s been. It’ll blow your mind.
© 2012 Margie Dana. All rights reserved. You’re free to forward this email. However, no part of this column may be reprinted without permission from the authors.