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ECPA Wire: Industry Issues

Six Take-Aways from the O’Reilly Tools Of Change Conference

Tuesday, March 1, 2011   (0 Comments)
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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.


5. Pride.

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!

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