As the publishing world gathers at the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair, the book business sits on the brink of some major changes, with a wave of new services and devices poised to take digital publishing—and digital reading—to another level. In 2014, the digital publishing discussion is no longer focused on disruption; instead, the emphasis is on maturation. And just as the maturity of digital storytelling is driving change in the industry at large, it is also driving changes at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which, in 2015, will undergo its first major reboot in two decades. The most prominent change is the relocation of English-language publishers from the outskirts of the fair in Hall 8 to Hall 6 and Hall 4—both are just a short walk from all the action.
“English-language publishing will be at the heart of the fair [in 2015], and, when you talk to people, that is what they want,” notes Frankfurt Book Fair director Juergen Boos. “Convenience is, of course, important, and doing away with 20-minute walks between appointments will be welcomed.” But what’s really driving the changes, Boos suggests, is something of a seismic shift in the industry—a move away from “territorial thinking” and toward a “subject-oriented” business focus, “one based on business models.”
Of course, you don’t have to wait for 2015 to see the changes at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Over the past decade, organizers have worked hard to keep the digital discussion at the fair current, and constantly evolving, and, in 2014, the program hits on a number of key publishing trends that are picking up steam.
Certainly, the rise of self-publishing is one prominent theme. According to a recent Nielsen report, sales of self-published e-books in the U.K. grew by 79% in 2013 compared to the previous year, and Amazon’s e-book sales put self-published titles around a quarter of the total U.S. market. As such, the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair has expanded its self-publishing offerings. On Friday, October 10, visitors can take tours through Hall 8 featuring stops at key exhibitors working in the self-publishing arena. The fair will also feature a full day of programming dedicated to self-publishing on Saturday, October 11, at the Publishing Perspectives Stage (also in Hall 8), during which a variety of topics will be discussed, including social media for authors, cover design, editing, e-book distribution, and success stories with established authors.
Meanwhile, perhaps the most prominent topic at this year’s fair is the rise of mobile reading. On Tuesday at ConTec, the prefair digital conference, Publishing Technology will reveal the results of a recent survey that shows that an increasing number of people are using their mobile phones to read e-books, although the figures vary by region.
With mobile devices poised to play a significant role in the evolution of publishing, Samsung is a perfect fit as this year’s innovation partner. This summer, the company debuted the Galaxy Tab 4S tablet and announced a number of key partnerships. These include a deal with Barnes & Noble to offer a branded Nook version of Samsung’s new tablet and give customers $200 in B&N credits. Samsung also has deals with National Geographic and Condé Nast to deliver their content through Papergarden, Samsung’s interactive digital magazine, which, the company says, offers sharper images and clearer text than print editions. And, Samsung has forged a partnership with Marvel Entertainment, giving Tab S buyers three months of free access to Marvel’s digital comic library through the Marvel Unlimited app.
Samsung representatives say that throughout the Frankfurt Book Fair, starting at ConTec, the company will highlight some of these advances that it seeks to bring to the book business, including the ability to use an S Pen to highlight passages and take notes while reading a text, multiwindow features that allow users to access information from their Web browsers while reading, and Super AMOLED screens with adaptive-display technology that adjust backlighting based on the surrounding light.
Rory O’Neill, marketing director for European Telecommunications Operations (ETO) at Samsung, will speak at ConTec at 2 p.m., with book industry consultant Michael Norris, on a panel entitled, “Getting Beyond the Book: Creating a New Digital Reading Experience with Innovative Mobile Technology,” moderated by publishing industry reporter/blogger Porter Anderson. And, all week, fair attendees can experiment with new Samsung devices at the Samsung booth in Hall 3.0.
This is just the beginning of Samsung’s foray into the world of publishing, fair organizers say. “As Samsung continues to embrace new forms of storytelling and evolve the reading experience of millions of users, we think that the publishing industry can profit from this collaboration in many ways,” notes Boos. “At the same time, we also know that the book trade has a lot to offer the mobile technology sector, especially as an important content provider.”
Hot Spots and More
Visitors to the fair who want to catch a product demo or check out a new device can visit five Frankfurt Hot Spots. Exhibitors and presenters range from technical specialists and digital content providers to marketing pioneers and Internet innovators.
Exhibitors at the Hot Spot Digital Innovation (Hall 8) demonstrate new solutions for the future of digital publishing. The Hot Spot Education (Hall 4.2) brings together buyers and suppliers of innovative teaching and learning aids. The Hot Spot Mobile (Hall 6.1) showcases everything from tablets and e-readers to apps, network providers, and content licensors. The Hot Spot Professional & Scientific Information (Hall 4.2) provides a platform for content and service providers that focus on specialist information, academic resources, and libraries. And the Hot Spot Publishing Services (Hall 4.0) features everything from print and digital service industries to production and distribution.
Meanwhile, the Publishing Perspectives stage will once again feature a slate of informative 30-minute sessions and interviews, many moderated by Mark Dressler, the Charlie Rose of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Below, we’ve highlighted a few interesting programs, but check the fair schedule for a complete listing.
Publishing Perspectives Stage, Hall 8
Wednesday, October 8
Will Evans of Deep Vellum and Michael Wise of New Vessel Press discuss the changing landscape for translation in America, what they’re looking for, what they’ve found, and how they are reaching readers. Moderated by CLMP executive director Jeffrey Lependorf.
How Karma and Cooperation Boost Self-Publishing
Nancy Baumann, president of Bookarma, looks at how indie service providers have created new cooperative channels, and how would-be indie authors can navigate the full book cycle, including how to get their works in the hands of readers.
Fight for Copyright: How Publishing Can Show Support
Is there really a fight for copyright? The International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations thinks so, and will convene a panel of “industry thought leaders” to discuss “why anticopyright champions have come to dominate the discussion on intellectual property,” and what steps the industry needs to take to make the case for copyright and “not cede the debate to Silicon Valley.”
The Big Debate: Mobile Phone Reading
This session will dive into Publishing Technology’s research into consumer adoption of mobile phones for book reading in the U.K. and the U.S. markets, offering insights into how many consumers are currently reading on their phones, which platforms are the most popular, and what are the most common barriers to more widespread mobile book reading.
How Grove Atlantic Gets Its Groove
This one should be fun. The colorful Morgan Entrekin, president and publisher of Grove Atlantic Books, in conversation with Dressler, will share his thoughts on “striking rights deals, expanding Grove’s stable of literary talent that includes such notables as Jim Harrison, and on trends he foresees,” including whether Entrekin still believes Frankfurt is “all about alcohol and cigarettes.”
Thursday, October 9
Small Shops: Big Books
CLMP executive director Jeffrey Lependorf talks with two independent literary publishers with impressive catalogues: Bruce McPherson of McPherson & Co. and Erika Goldman of Bellevue Literary Press. How do these small presses accomplish so much with such limited resources?
Big Data: Mining the Equity Hiding in Your List
Michael Tamblyn, president and chief content officer of Kobo, will discuss with Dressler how data can help publishers understand their readers, beyond what they purchase, and unlock important “business intelligence and revenue opportunities”—the subject of a white paper will be released at the fair.
Betting on the Future of Books: Ingram’s Next Chapter
Ingram chairman John Ingram will discuss with Dressler opportunities that he sees for Ingram and the industry as a whole, as the “quiet intermediary through which all physical books flowed” has been continually reinvented and connected in a digital world.
Sourcing the Crowd: Publishing Unbound
Philip Jones, editor of the U.K.-based Bookseller magazine, talks with Dan Kieran and Isobel Frankish of Unbound, the successful crowdfunding company.
Friday, October 10
CLMP’s Jeffrey Lependorf interviews Chris Fischbach, publisher of Coffee House Press, on what it means to be handed the reins from the founding publisher of a well-established, highly regarded indie house.
One of Our Own: Book Exec to Bestselling Author
Penguin v-p Ananth Padmanabhan sits down with Dressler to discuss his debut, Play with Me. Ananth will share his “authorial and industry perspective” on what surely has been a roller coaster ride on the bestseller lists.
Andrew Richard Albanese is a senior writer and features editor at Publishers Weekly.