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It's a backstage pass to info on jobs and life at 50+. Gen Plus, headed by Janet Wendy Spiegel, is dedicated to baby boomers and the plus generation of age 50 and older. Read up and speak out on issues affecting your future: jobs, income, life and respect.

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Northridge, California, United States
Successful businesswoman, consultant, entrepreneur. I operate two businesses -- social media consulting, AND premium pet care services in the West San Fernando Valley. Love what I do, love life.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Book Expo of America...an example of the changing times.

In any big industry, there is always a big picture. The clearer the picture the clearer the vision of the forward momentum of the industry. Well, this past weekend was eye-opening. I went with my mother (Corinne Copnick, whose book Cryo Kid is doing very well at an early stage) to explore what literary agents, rights agents, publishers and distributors were bringing to the table in this new era of new media.

My big picture is not necessarily their big picture, but there is no denying the publishing industry is in a quandry and facing a dilemma -- how to sell books to a public that is opting out of buying books? Sure, we all pick up books, there are book clubs galore, and, of course, Oprah's book club has made a positive impact on reading across the US, but have you talked to a Millenium lately? Kids are going to the internet for information...so travel books, information sources, even dictionaries and thesauruses are in big trouble. They get their fix on what's new and trendy from both the internet and magazines...but they aren't curling up in bed with a book...they are more likely to curl up with their warm laptop for company. And you could see by the show demographic...it is an aging industry. Were there some GREAT professionals there? Yes. Absolutely. And the greatest of them were opening their minds to look for future trends in an uncertain future.

My thoughts were somewhat different. I walked around, lugging pounds upon pounds of advance copies, signed author copies, catalogues and promo items from literally hundreds of book reps and I kept wondering why there weren't docking stations where I could either download the advance copies to my iPod or to a flash drive, rather than shuttle the weight the length of the convention center. Many of the publishers look down their noses at books on demand that self-publishers choose (a book is printed as it is ordered) and I thought...wow...what an opportunity. Heck, if I could go to my local Barnes and Noble and while sitting enjoying my soy chai latte, the book I ordered was being printed up for me to take with me in 10 minutes....I'd be sold. Very curious to see what advances will come up over the next few years. There will always be a market for books, but how that market will reposition itself is the story.

5 comments:

Walter Akana said...

Great post, Wendy!

I don’t think books will ever go away. There is just something extra special in the tactile feeling of reading a book and even writing notes in the margins. I always looked at this as a way of interacting with the author’s ideas.

Now, of course, technology is bringing us wonderful tools that allow us to interact directly with authors and others in the exchange of ideas and the generation of knowledge! In fact, I know lots of avid book readers who now say they would choose blogs as a source of learning if forced to choose between printed books or online media.

Clearly, there are challenges for publishers, but also opportunities – if they can find ways to participate profitably in this new Web 2.0 world.

Glenn said...

Have you seen the Sony book reader. A colleague of mine has one and they are the best thing I've seen in digital readers so far. I did a couple of posts on this device a couple of weeks ago.

Janet Wendy, founder, Gen Plus said...

Walter, I agree. There is nothing quite so wonderful as the feeling of turning a page and at the same time, we have a generation who are more used to a screen page than the written page.

Glenn: I've not seen the Sony reader and I'll check out your site. There was a lot of chatter about the Kindle, but oddly, I didn't see any booth or display dedicated to the electronic book reader. (I may have missed it...so if anyone else was at the BEA and did see electronic readers, I'd love to know about it!)

Glenn said...

Kindle is the cadillac model of the Sony reader. These devices are very hard to get ahold of right now because the screen technology is entirely new and there is only one supplier. Here in Vancouver only four units were shipped and all four were advertised and pre-sold a month in advance.

Janet Wendy, founder, Gen Plus said...

So intriguing...now I want MY Sony reader...hmmm...I'd love to do a comparison of the Sony against the Kindle.