Six Take-Aways from the O’Reilly Tools Of Change Conference
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
by Gretchen Goldsmith, President/CEO, Rose Publishing, Inc.
Everyone with an eye to the future was challenged at the
Tools of Change Conference. We heard from the best and most successful
innovators, many of whom were willing to share real data, even hinting
meaningfully about ROI information, which is what I’m always looking for.
1. Panic positively.
Some companies are early adopters, light years ahead
and capitalizing on the digital revolution, and seeing the electronic versions
of books (whether ebooks or apps) augment their sales considerably. Then there
are the companies that simply do a lot of little unexciting things right and
reap the rewards. I walked away
from the conference with a to-do list burning up my brain. A little bit of
panic is good.
2. Laugh at folly.
Last year all of the talks were about the glowing
future of ebooks. Although ebook sales are exploding, now it is apparent that
ebooks have a wide range of problems, most of which involve low customer
satisfaction. Fast, automated conversions have led to thousands of ebooks with
poor layouts, bad spelling, incorrect punctuation, and a host of other
problems. Some ebooks, such as study Bibles, fall far below the print book for
user experience. It is clear that publishing companies should consider having a
dedicated ebook/digital/app person to supervise both QC and innovation. There
has to be the will to face this daunting task.
3. Appreciate honesty.
Thank you, O’Reilly, for eliminating nearly all of
the social media seminars/workshops that focus on Twitter and Facebook as
effective marketing tools. We have all figured out that on the publishing
company level they don’t work as well as the so-called experts promised.
4. Be open-minded with a good dose of skepticism.
I love the wild speculative ideas, but separating out
good luck from hard work is tough. It’s fun when an obsession can become an
occupation. Or when a passion becomes a profit center.
Two of the best presenters where from our own
industry: Joshua Tallent from eBookArchitects and Paul Mikos from B&H. There
were many truly excellent presentations.
As always, Dominique Raccah of Sourcebooks was an
example of a great innovative leader. I’ve had the opportunity of seeing her in
action. She’s team focused and no-nonsense.
6. Eight heads are better than one.
This year we had the option to join topically based
roundtable discussions over lunch. This opened my eyes to the quiet
behind-the-scenes people in the Christian industry that are solving some of the
most difficult challenges and how they did it. I also enjoyed tossing around
ideas with our industry’s leaders. I’m always touched by the generosity of the
company presidents and their advice.
Now, I look forward to ECPA’s Executive Leadership
Summit and the many opportunities there to interact with our own industry’s
leaders on a wide variety of topics, including the digital revolution. Hope to see you there!