Yesterday I attended the BookNet Canada Technology Forum 2009: evolution or REVOLUTION.
What a fantastic day, with a great series of speakers.
The topic, as often happens these days in the world of bookseller, continued to focus on new media such as ebooks, etc, with particular attention to mobile devices. While stats show that people might be reading fewer books, stats also indicate that people are actually reading a LOT more than ever before -- (one must NOT discount the reading that happens online, on mobile devices, etc)
We had a chance to see presentations about Indigo's new shortcovers offering of digital content (during the presentation by Indigo CTO, Michael Serbinis, I uploaded a story of my own* and then an hour later, my buddy Randy from Waterloo's bookstore tested out downloading the story to his iPhone -- nothing better than a "let's check this out" kind of demo. I was amazed at the simplicity of this tool -- of course, I'm not surprised, having worked with many of the incredible minds at Indigo both in the business and within the IT group, at how well this new venture works)
There were great presentations involving online communities, audio, ebook readers, and various visions of changes currently affecting and immediately forthcoming within the book industry. (And yes, the wonderful Espresso Book Machine was mentioned -- I also brought some sample copies of books we printed off on our machine to show various people)
I'm still quite impressed at the way Harlequin has mastered the world of ebooks so quickly and efficiently, offering some new lines available only electronically (ie, born electronically rather than books that were converted to e-book form) If you look at the demographic for loyal Harlequin readers, you'll be amazed at how quickly they have adapted to consuming this content in a whole new way. And talk about loyalty and customer interaction. Something most publishers would kill for.
As always, the folks at BookNet Canada put on an incredible line-up of presentors, the audience was filled with incredibly bright and dynamic people from the book industry, engaged and asking lots of great questions, and, at the end of the day, while filled and satisfied, I'm already eagerly awaiting next year's event.
* The story I uploaded was "Active Reader" which originally appeared in Dissections: The Journal of Contemporary Horror in Feb 2008. Interesting fact -- this story offers a chilling look at discount/loyalty cards and what could happen if info tracked from one of them gets into the hands of a disturbed individual. You can read the entire story online for free -- go check it out. I have since also uploaded Distractions, from my book ONE HAND SCREAMING, which is another dark humour piece.