Thursday, April 30, 2009

Real Time Digital Conferences

Today we received yet another email open call requesting conference papers to speak at a major conference this December. Ok 8 months isn’t far away and they have to organise marketing brochures and sell tickets and generally organise the show, but 8 months is a lifetime in the current climate. For example look back 8 months and look at some of the events that have happened in that period:

The Google Book Settlement was announced. It was a major bolt out of the blue and by the time this conference opens, we may know its fate. Some may say that the outcome is almost impossible to call today and whatever the outcome, it will impact digital publishing tomorrow.

iPhone applications have exploded to over 1 billion downloads. Who would have predicted a Kindle app or their purchase of Stanza, who were off many people’s radar 8 months ago? Who would have predicted that Barnes and Nobles would purchase Fictionwise? Mobile apps are not only new, but are reshaping how we consume information.

More digital ebook readers have surfaced along with Nintendo and of course the ubiquitous Smart-phones. However, when Apple announce their new wares in June, what will be the impact on netbooks, smartphones, apps and consumers?

Leading academic publishers such as Taylor and Francis have flipped from physical to digital marketing programmes with over 20,000 widgets and now have launched their digital inspection copy first programme. Marketing is changing with digital content now selling content.

Who would have predicted the demise of the newsprint and magazine empires? These sectors are grappling with changing business models driven by changing revenues and an unproven shift to online subscriptions all being further fuelled by the current economic climate.

The US digital impact on the UK and Europe grows. The imbalance of digitalisation programmes and a breakdown in territorial boundaries grow. The likes of Overdrive, with much US content, have now made significant inroads into UK trade and libraries.

Its only 9 months since Waterstones launched the Sony ebook reader in the UK and the country is still Kindle-less.

Finally, who would have predicted the economic climate change?

Asking potential speakers to submit presentations today, supported by 300-500 word outlines, conclusions and arguments, clear reference and supporting materials and three key learning points for delegates, sounds naïve. We believe it is important that paying conference delegates to such high profile events are given current, not old news.

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