SXSW, the annual Austin, Tex.-based festival of interactive ventures, music and film, returns March 9, for another year’s presentation on innovation in technology, music, cinema and new business platforms that will attract upwards of 20,000 attendees. Last year PW visited SXSW for the first time. This year PW editors Rachel Deahl (@DeahlsDeals) and Calvin Reid (@calreid) are returning, a little tech wiser, more determined to find that Korean BBQ Taco Truck, and to moderate two SXSWi (ahem, SXSW Interactive) panel discussions.
Publishers Weekly has organized Publishing Models Transforming The Book, moderated by PW senior news editor Rachel Deahl and organized by PW senior news editor Calvin Reid. The event will examine how conventional publishing industry business models are being rearranged and reinvented, and how books and book content are being offered to consumers in the digital age. The panel features content entrepreneurs like Brian Altounian, CEO of Wowio.com and Studio W, and Swanna McNair, founder of Creative Conduit. Also on-hand will be Molly Barton, director of digital publishing and business development at Penguin, and Jefferson Raab, creative director at The Atavist.
Reid will moderate the panel, Discoverability and the New World of Book PR, organized by Austin based book media relations veterans Barbara Cave Henricks and Rusty Shelton as well as Hollis Heimbouch, v-p and publisher at HarperCollins. The panel will examine book marketing and promotion at a time when physical bookstore shelf space is declining and more books are being released.
But that’s just the beginning. O’Reilly Media’s Tools of Change will hold a one-day “Mini-TOC” on Friday March 9, featuring Miral Sattar of Bibliocrunch.com (“Can Publishing Help Bridge the Tech Gender Gap?”), digital publishing consultant Brian O’Leary (“The Opportunity in Abundance”), author Clay Johnson (The Information Diet) among many others.
What did editors Deahl and Reid discover at SXSW last year? That the show is an all-you-can-eat buffet of panels and presentations and when something looks good, give it a taste. We’re not only looking for the obvious—how technology is changing book publishing—but panels like Your Brain on Multitasking, that might offer unconventional wisdom for publishers in an unconventional time. (Other off-topic panels we think might provide insight for book people include: Top Chef: How Transmedia is Changing TV; Why Happiness Is the New Currency; The New Hollywood: Building Celebrity Brands Online; and Lessons from Disruptors: Game-Changing Start-Ups.)
That said, there are so many panels, you’d better download the SXSW iPhone/iPad app (also available for the Android OS) if you want to keep track of all of them. Here’s a few panels and presentations at SXSWi that we plan on attending:
Potterize it! Sharing the Magic of Fan Culture: a look at Harry Potter online fan groups and how to organize online communities.
The Present of Print: Paper's Persistence: everyone from a scholar to a printer discuss how print retains its value as reading habits shift to digital formats.
How Comics Journalism is Saving Your Media: a look at how comics have become an important and popular vehicle to cover complex news stories.
Knitting a Long Tail in Niche Publishing: an indie publisher discusses innovative ways to reach targeted readers.
Self-Publishing: A Revolution for Midlist Authors? a take on how midlist authors may be primed, more than any other group, to benefit from the plethora of self-publishing options.
How to Harvest Consumer Intent From the Social Web: a look at how content producers can use social media to find out what people want and deliver it.
This is an admittedly small selection of what SXSW has to offer. (And, for authors and other book-minded folk attending, SXSW has put together its own handy guide here.) There’s also a constant stream of book signings at the SXBookstore on the upper level of the Austin Convention Center; author Baratunde Thurston, tech-loving comedian, director of digital at the Onion and author of the bestselling memoir/humor work, How to Be Black, will give a keynote addresss; Marvel Comics will be holding a panel at Screenburner, the SXSW videogame forum and much more.
Oh, did we mention parties? John Wiley will have about a dozen authors in town and they’re throwing a bash Sunday night. Open Road Integrated Media is attending the Mini-TOC and hosting a smaller dinner party. For those getting to the fest early, Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino is keynoting at the SXSWedu event. We will be in Austin come Friday, covering panels, meeting publishing folks and listening to pitches about all manner of new startups that could shake things up--or help folks out--in publishing. Have something you want us to cover? Somewhere you want us to go? Contact us via our Twitter tag @publisherswkly and tell us what's up--we'll be listening. That is, of course, when we're not in a panel, moderating a panel...or chasing a taco truck.