Digital Convergence and Progressive Politics go Mainstream: BEA 2013

This is the year of digital multimedia convergence. This trend has been gaining strength, but all of a sudden, all the publishers, including the NY giants, are actively engaged. Many of the conference sessions as well as a Disney press conference were focused on this, and they were drawing crowds.

This report starts with Disney, moves gthrough two conference sessons, and concludes with a summary of trends.

DISNEY PRESENTATION--Lyle Underkoffler, "digital deep dive."

  • World's largest digital and print publisher. Interactive apps.
  • Mission: define storytelling 2.0. Interaction plus immersion. 20mm consumers daily.
  • Remote video allows e.g. Grandparent to read with child from afar.
  • Acquisition, provide support to authors
  • Extending the franchise
  • Content engine
  • Monsters University: kids can get an ID and get exclusive content
  • Buyers, parents, give digital shopping credits into consumers, kids.
  • Kids can personalize the experience by designing their avatar, who becomes their guide.
  • Books aren't going away
  • Apps are much less expensive than books
  • It is all about engagement.
  • This is software development. Apps have stayed on devices three years, average engagement 15 minutes, 2x/week
  • Put tools in kids' hands to create stories, movies. Toy Story theater.

You could have a download code at the end of a product, to augment the experience.

Solidifying family relationships,and migrating that to broader communities around reading And learning.

Audience questions:
How do you reach families that don't have access to apps?
We're moving more apps to desktops, and we work with organizations like 1stbooks.

Can apps provide services to disability communities?
Yes: read to me, read by myself, record a reading. And we can create textually aware apps in Braille, etc.; we've seen disabled children get very engaged.

How integrated into classrooms?
We view ourselves as supplemental. We work with experts to ensure curriculum compliance. But we see a larger opportunity with libraries, which are more naturally supplemental. But we do seek relationships with educational institutions.

Transcendence from physical to digital.
We're rolling out tests in the fall, and we have pretty large programs planned. We want to add value in bundled services.

Core audience 6-9, but secondary audience Young Adult (slightly older kids).

Character creation: these are standard characters. In Mickey Mouse Paint and Play, they can. Customize colors, etc. Eventually they will be able to create their own characters
How sharable?
We are very cautious about enabling kid to kid content. It is gated for parent controls. Parents can determine sharing levels, most of it through email. We are looking at creating family structures that enable device to device communication. Regulations are changing rapidly, and most of our products are global. So how do we protect kids around the world? It will evolve over time.

@FAUZIA BURKE, FSB Associates, publicist: Content Marketing – Building & Implementing Your New Strategy - slides
We are so used to having info that we don't buy anything without due diligence. Why? Content marketing connects you with your readers. You can market many ways, but it has never been harder to KEEP their attention. CM allows relevant relationship with you. That relationship is crucial.

  • Shows your expertise (rather than tells).
  • Develop relationship that can be monetized
  • Expand your sales team: retweet, review on Amazon, etc.
  • Improve effectiveness of other marketing
  • Grow readership and revenue

SM, blogs, newsletters are content marketing. Content marketing:

  • Entertains
  • Informs
  • Delights

Anyone on Twitter knows "what I had for breakfast" is an illusion.

Two categories for content:
Social media vs. social networking. Strategically different.
SM is media you create. One to many. Blog, newsletter, infographic, slideshow, book, etc.
SN is peer to peer, to listen and collaborate.

Having that understanding, two diff kinds of content, informs your strategy.

Strategy: we are no longer in a launch mode, need long term, unified and persistent.

Five steps:

  • Move your audience
  • Get their permission-
  • Plan consistent engagement
  • Decide on call to action
  • Learn the tools

Know your demographics, psychographics, whose fans you would like to have.
For NF authors, slideshares may be more effective than videos. Google can index every word. We have had some that got 11,000 shares.
Photos needed for many uses, book covers, Pinterest. Get permission, it is usually very cheap.

Istockphoto, fotalia: photo sources
SM needs a call to action too, come look at my blog, etc.

We divide timing into daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. Have a timeline.

Know your goal for SM. Our goal is not to grow the numbers for company Twitter feed, but to build engagement with reviewers. Our content is too diverse for a large following.

  • Blog traffic
  • Numbers of followers
  • Interaction on social networks
  • Info requests
  • Sales

And then adjust.
I find that FB posts get retweeted more 1:30-2:30 pm

Moderator: Richard Nash, VP of Community and Content, Small Demons
Speakers: Stephanie Pereira, Art Program Director, Kickstarter
Alison Feldmann, Editor-in-Chief,
Valla Vakili, CEO and co-founder, Small Demons

Stephanie: Anyone can come and say, hey, here is my idea, share and project that passion. Because you are describing a thing you have not made, as you go along, the project takes on a new sense of life as people respond with a vote of confidence. Most get less than 100 contributions; some get 10,000. It is all about dialog. The day of going behind a black curtain and bringing it out when it is done is going away. We are used to getting feedback. The generosity of the community is very positive, but we don't see ourselves as primarily a fundraising tool.

Richard: a brand Is a story other people tell about you.

Stephanie: It is part of your creative process, don't treat it as a funding process. Be yourself, don't try to be a marketing genius if you are not. It is about sharability of content, and less about asking.

Games publishers are very active on the site, they reach out to game designers to engage their following on Kickstarter.

Valla: All the major SM platforms are about some aspect of storytelling.
They let you disaggregate and exchange with people in the process. Kickstarter begins with the idea for a book.
Identify with person's influences
Connect and pass their stuff along
All this happens before the book

An institution can market with all the raw material around a book, engage prior to and post-publication, but too much of it is not chunked and not discoverable. Iv you have ip, chunk it up and make those components discoverable. Use tagging.


    It felt to me that attendance was sparse on the weekdays, but the energy was very good. Exhibitors were eager to talk with booth visitors, and a helpful, cooperatigve attitude was widely evident. Food books are everywhere. Eating Mindfully. Vegan cookbooks. Wheat or gluten-free. Desserts. Time Magazine published What to Eat Now.
  • A surprisingly large number of books influenced by both Buddhist thought and progressive politics: New Harbinger Publications' line, Sacred Activism series from North Atlantic Books: Collapsing Consciously, Occupy Spirituality
  • Progressive politics was also very evident without Buddhism: Jesse Ventura has a book on JFK assassination conspiracy. U of MN: The Inconvenient Indian, to name a few. Oddly, while progressive books were in evidence all around the floor, many of the progressive publishers from past years were absent. Common Courage, New Society, South End, and Chelsea Green (which stopped exhibiting several years ago) were among those who sat this year's show out.
  • As usual, some one-idea self-publishers: one proposed term limits for marriage; why not training instead?
  • Picture/very young reader books on social themes: Gandhi's salt march, My Name is Leona (about disliking your name), Candlewick: Africa is My Home: A Child of the Amistad. Alternative families are now mainstream, even in he children's book world.

For the first time in several years, I didn't encounter a single exhibiting child author, though I did encounter a 17-year-old fantasy author whose two books came out several years ago (he was not exhibiting, but he was with his publisher/mother, who was a client when his books were new and remains a friend).

Large pavilion of tech exhibitors. Lots of ebook converters, multimedia and publishing platforms, bookstore and publishing management systems. I did notice two really new and different products:

First, Slicebooks, which allows either publishers or readers to slice and remix sections from different works.
Among many possible applications:
Travelers could assemble the same city from different guidebooks
Professors could create courseware packets
Anthologists could easily create collections

The widget is free to publishers; users pay to assemble their books, and the company shares revenue with the publishers. If a publisher wants to put a file out on the cloud or in social media, there's a fee.

The other cool technology product I saw was Enthrill, which allows authors and retailers to easily sell or give away ebooks, and buyers or gift recipients to select their own technology platform, all hosted and managed by Enthrill. Vendors can purchase codes for $1.50 apiece, and either print gift cards themselves or buy preprinted cards. Since the cards (including the codes) are priced at $3.50 and up, savvy authors will print their own. Many postcard vendors offer two-sided printing with color on one side for pennies apiece, and then sequentially numbered labels with the codes could be easily applied, if the postcard vendor can't do the numbering.

This means, among other things, that speakers can now sell digital downloads in the back of the room and give out something tangible. As a speaker, I'm "enthrilled.

The same company had earlier developed, patented, and sold off technology that finally compensates brick-and-mortar bookstores for browsers who use mobile devices to price-shop, consummating the sale and kicking back a percentage to the physical store.

Another tech trend I saw is the beginning penetration of Google Glass. I saw sveral people using the device, one of whom let me try it briefly. It's like talking to Siri, but through a pair of glasses. It is pretty easy to get used to, though a bit awkward over regular glasses, and did not feel like a distraction to me. However, it would not be a good idea to wear it while driving, etc.

Shel Horowitz, copywriter, publishing consultant, and Editor of Down to Business, has been covering Book Expo snce 1997. His most recent book is Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green.

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