Day one wound down at the Downtown Stage with a look to the future and a nod to the past--a New Yorker-sponsored open bar--at the Cannon Tales panel, where seven industry types discussed what inspires them. While the specifics of each panelist’s monologue varied, the overall buzzword-heavy message was clear: publishing needs to adapt, and faster.

“If publishing is stumbling now, we’re going to have to start sprinting,” said producer Pablo Defendini. Traditional books--quaint physical objects with printed pages--will survive, he said, though with a “limited market” as publishers take advantage of expanding options for digital delivery. “The Kindle and Sony eReader are like the 13-inch tube televisions of our day.”

Harper Studio associate publisher Debbie Stier echoed Defendini’s notion of books as “art objects” and hailed social media’s power to build audiences for authors. She’s especially fond of Twitter, “an amazing virtual cocktail party that happens 24-7,” where a person (Ashton Kutcher, for instance) can have as much reach as a massive news organization (say, CNN).

Knopf/Doubleday online marketing director Jeff Yamaguchi and former Soft Skull publisher turned publishing consultant Richard Nash focused largely on the community-building abilities of the web, with Yamaguchi stressing the need for authors and publishers to leverage rich media. “Yes,” he said, “you need a website. If you have one, great. Now, go and freaking update it.” Also, “puppies and sex” are big traffic-builders.

Nash teased out his vision for the industry’s shift from a supply chain model “with a widget mindset,” to an interactive “ecosystem” where communities replace audiences and publishers act less as bouncers. “Twitter is not going to save us,” he said.

Click here for more BookExpo America 2009 coverage from PW.