While many book publishers found BEA 2008 to be a bit quiet, there was lots of action on the technology front. Alongside abundant tech-related panels, many of the established and rising technology players in the publishing industry pegged announcements of new partnerships and products to BEA, where they hoped to generate some buzz.

Amazon was out in force, demonstrating its Kindle to anyone who happened by; NetGalley made its biggest public push to date for its Web-based galley trafficking and tracking system; and, generally, the new shook hands with the old, and tried to explain how to work the remote control.

Microsoft's decision the week before BEA to pull the plug on its Live Search Books program, which involved a huge book-scanning partnership with Ingram Digital, spawned further activity. In a post on its Live Search blog on May 23, Microsoft said, “We foresee that the best way for a search engine to make book content available will be by crawling content repositories created by book publishers and libraries,” but leaving the scanning to somebody else created a vacuum among Microsoft's partners that other companies were eager to fill.

Digital asset management companies LibreDigital and former Microsoft Live Search Books partner Ingram Digital both announced new partnerships and initiatives, at least in part due to the demise of Live Search Books. The day before BEA began, LibreDigital invited any publisher that had been partnered with Microsoft to migrate their digital content to LibreDigital's (or any other) system. At BEA, John Wiley & Sons announced it has partnered with LibreDigital, which will now manage all of Wiley's digital content. LibreDigital also announced an expansion of its distribution capabilities through a partnership with OverDrive, a leading distributor of digital content to more than 7,500 libraries and retailers. While Ingram Digital took a hit in losing its partnership with Microsoft, the company announced plans to step up its own digital content management services, including its Search and Discover platform, a warehousing and distribution service like LibreDigital's. Ingram also invited publishers that had participated in Live Search to join Search and Discover for free. And religion publisher Thomas Nelson announced its decision to use Ingram's digital content management services. Ingram will host and distribute Nelson's digital content through its CoreSource platform.

Macmillan, the U.S. division of the international publishing conglomerate Holtzbrinck, whose imprints include St. Martin's, FSG, Holt and Picador, unveiled its new online media platform at BEA. Essentially a vast network of interlinked Web sites based on a similar template, Macmillan's new platform delves deep into the company's collective catalogue, linking across imprints, titles and authors, giving uniform support to all the company's products. Macmillan's major imprints each have their own sites and sub-sites for their divisions. New features, like blogs, audio and video are linked to content throughout the sites.

Simon & Schuster also made a couple of big tech announcements. The publisher is making 5,000 more of its titles available as digital books for Amazon's Kindle, more than doubling S&S's Kindle presence. S&S is also joining eight other publishers—including BBC Audiobooks UK, Reagent Press and Hay House—who are making some of their audiobook titles available as DRM-free digital downloads through eMusic, the second largest e-tailer of digital music, which began selling downloadable audiobooks last September. Five hundred of the new publishers' titles are available now, with another 500 to come soon. At the show, eMusic CEO David Pakman gave a compelling talk about the virtues of selling digital media without DRM, a point that is dividing the publishing industry as it thinks about its future in the digital world.

In mobile-Web news, MPS Mobile, a subsidiary of Macmillan Publishing Solutions, which is also owned by Holtzbrinck, made two announcements about its Global Reader platform, which gives access to digital book content via mobile phones and other Internet-enabled mobile devices in over 160 countries. The first was that MPS Mobile will adopt the IDPF ePub standard for use on the Global Reader. The second was the unveiling of a new design for the Global Reader itself that will allow access to multimedia content, rather than just text. In another multimedia-type announcement, e-book maker DNAML announced the publication of Hachette's Nextville: Amazing Places to Live the Rest of Your Life by Barbara Corcoran as a DNL eBook, which features video, audio and interactive content along with the text of the print book.

All in all, a busy week for an industry that is rushing to take fuller advantage of the ever-multiplying possibilities for books in the digital age.