This is my brain on TOC

I’ve just returned from The Big Apple and the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference. As I got back and reviewed my notes and twitter stream from the past 3 days (@terrireden), my mind is processing, processing, processing. The conversations were fascinating, eye-opening, and energizing. My role, like almost everyone at TOC, is hybrid–mine a mix of strategizing on digital product and marketing initiatives alongside marketing and growing our traditional print publishing business.

What strikes me most is that no matter the size or type of publishing house, we’re collectively changing the tires on the bus while its speeding down the Interstate at 100 mph. It’s not simple. Ask anyone at TOC; they’ll tell you. It’s at once frustrating and exhilarating, terrifying and thrilling. I’m happy to be on board that bus (call me crazy, but I find it fun!). Business models are changing on an almost daily basis. We’re forced everyday to rethink something fundamental about how we do business, from rights to contracts and royalties, production to digital marketing, and the all the ways in which we engage in the value chain (author to agent to publisher to bookseller to reader).

I left TOC with more than a few sound bites and tidbits of collective wisdom to digest. Here are a few (believe me, there were many more…check out #toccon on twitter):

  • Be prepared for “monumental and irreversible change” in our industry in the next 3-5 years.
  • Authors have to provide more (not just the text); publishers have to produce more, add more value to the book (oh, and please do it faster and cheaper).
  • The simple eBook is dead; long live the eBook.
  • Experiment (This is a test; this is only a test. Or is it?)
  • To DRM or not to DRM, that is the question.
  • For goodness sake, make sure your metadata is clean.
  • Know your customers and readers (seems basic but sometimes forgotten).
  • And, lest I not forget, CONNECT–social media marketing is critical to the viability of book sales, “e” or “p”.

Now that my head is about to explode, I hope to squeeze 4 more hours into today to write down all the ideas I have for “experimenting” with digital at Lerner Publishing Group (hurry!). I am convinced that 3-5 years from now we will have experienced an epic change in our industry. There is no road map, no prescription for success. And, to quote Skip Prichard, president & CEO of Ingram Content Group, “there is no fundamental right to survive in business.”

So, we are listening to our customers and getting our hands dirty changing those tires one lug nut at a time. Thank you to Tim O’Reilly and the TOC team who brought together the bright publishing industry folks, technologists, authors, agents, and booksellers to collectively debate and ideate about the next gen “have-it-your-way” reading experience.

Now, I’m off to write down those ideas!