Evan Schnittman spoke to us at the EWBC, sharing a really deep knowledge of the contemporary publishing scene. I think he gave a really good, succint history of digital publishing and highlighted some of the bigger differences between digital publishing and conventionally printed books.
For now, let’s talk about some of my personal highlights.
The iPod moment
Schnittman suggests that the Amazon Kindle was a revolutionary moment for ebooks and self publishing. For once, the hardware was awesome and competitive with books for long reading sessions. For once, the selection of what you could read was massive and mainstream enough to make the e-reader competitive with books. He compares it to the iPod which was a piece of hardware that offered a large selection of mp3s at the iTunes store.
And Evan didn’t mention it, but the Kindle and iPod both made it easy to enjoy pirated content. Any stolen mp3 could be played on an iPod. Any document can be converted to a txt and added to a Kindle. We also talked a bit about the development of “the cloud” and how important that was to making an approachable and usable ebook reader.
To Print or Not to Print?
Schnittman made an interesting distinction between different types of text. He explained the differences between books that you read front to back and reference books where you consult an index and then go to a very specific part to just read one entry (e.g. dictionaries, directories).
Then, within those groups, there were a few more interesting distinctions. For example, some printed editions of directories will be replaced entirely by digital versions while others will benefit in increased sales thanks to their digitalization. He specifically mentioned the Princeton Reveiw’s Complete Book of Colleges and the OED.
When the Princeton Review’s college directory was first put online, publishers worried that it would hurt sales. Why would anybody buy the book when it was totally searchable online? Well, the reputation of the book grew thanks to its online incarnation and sales of the printed version increased consistently over time! Other books like the Oxford English Dictionary are so cumbersome that it really makes a lot more sense for them to be digitized and they will probably go entirely digital.
Another key part of Schnittman’s talk was about the possibility of self-publishing. And this is probably the part that affects O’Vineyards the most. Almost nothing can stop individuals like me from self-publishing now. Amazon’s new self-publishing model that allows you to sell infinite ebooks and even real world books made out of paper and everything. They’re printed on demand and they look and feel just like books at the library. Pretty snazzy world we live in.
I am finally back in the comfort of my own winery after a long and wonderful trip to Paris and Vienna. The European Wine Bloggers’ Conference was an absolute blast. The word for the week was overwhelming. Lots of wine, lots of learning, lots of laughing, lots of beauty. Everything was just wonderful.
I guess we should break this up into multiple posts because the trip was sooo varied and momentous.
Alright, an ongoing series on the EWBC 2010 in Vienna and the surrounding Austrian wine country. As the series goes on, I’ll update this post to be a sort of index or table of contents for the EWBC posts, photos and links.
Keynotes and Tastings that virtually everybody did:
Other pertinent, less insane articles about the EWBC:
Mr. Payton goes to Washington.. err .. Parliament in Vien. This is a really ingenious piece where Ken Payton visits the Austrian parliament without an appointment (or any idea of who he even wants to talk to) and asks if anybody can help him learn about Austrian wine law. I wish I had ideas like this.