frankfurt-am-main1In an apparent effort to show that the Frankfurt Book Fair totally gets this new digital publishing thing, Frankfurt BF VP Holger Volland has held forth in Digital Book World on “The Evolution of US Digital Innovation in Publishing.” And he has some kind words for America’s leadership in this space. “The United States has been at the forefront of digital publishing since the field’s inception,” he declares. “And now, as digital is fully integrated into our daily publishing lives and the industry continues to expand the format of books and data analytics, the US market continues to lead.”

Of course, that depends on whether you really feel that “digital is fully integrated into our daily publishing lives.” Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy certainly claims so. But as I observed elsewhere, that’s a diminished and watered-down version of digital which tries to fence out the broader opportunities of self-publishing, ebook prices that actually reflect market and manufacturing realities, and anything else that threatens the Big Five’s consensual status quo.

In Volland’s view, “the two biggest problems publishers face in the digital landscape are adapting print book content for devices and what readers are seeing in other media outlets, and understanding and reaching readers through curation, format and content.” No hint of the challenge of self-publishing, then? The differences over pricing that have dragged publishers into the dock? The desperate casting about for hits that has led Big Five publishers to trawl YouTube for instant celeb authors? “Publishers are also investing in learning more about their readers and connecting with them directly through digital channels, like online communities, social media and direct-to-consumer sales initiatives,” Volland affirms. All those tasty ingredients in one sentence. Strange how self-publishing naturally seems to bring them all together so much better. But in all Volland’s analysis of US publishing innovation, self-publishing doesn’t get a single direct mention.

“The Frankfurt Book Fair has highlighted US Digital Innovation as one of the seven markets at our inaugural conference, The Markets: Global Publishing Summit, on October 13th in Frankfurt,” Volland doesn’t neglect to mention. I’m almost breathless with excitement. What might I learn? Can my brain stand it? His insights from the bleeding edge of publishing innovation are already almost too much for mere mortals to comprehend. Yes, gentle TeleReaders, if there’s any platform that’s ready to slap vested interests and confront monopolistic Behemoths with the brutal trust-busting consequences of innovation, it’s the Frankfurt Book Fair. Liberation beckons in October. Probably. Almost.




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