For those of you who may not have heard, Google sponsored a line up of speakers focused on the book publishing industry today in New York. By my estimations there were about 500 people in attendance comprised mostly of publishers, authors, consultants, inventors and at least one unemployed part-time, amateur blogger.
The speakers were absolutely phenomenal. I was impressed by most of them, but I showed up to see Chris Anderson (Wired Magazine), Seth Godin (Seth Godin) and Cory Doctorow (BoingBoing.net).
Here are a some of the memes flowing through the PA.
Leverage in the industry is shifting (or more likely has already shifted greatly) from the publishing customers to the authors, at least the others with a respectable product and the ideas and desires to self-promote.
The long tail. Its hard to see Chris present his numbers and then try to think of a bigger way that the Internet will affect business.
Give to Get. Every successful author that spoke mentioned giving something away, be it product, novelties or attention. The point is that smart authors realize that they are a brand. Their time, attention and ability to lead conversations are the product. The physical book is how they monetize this.
The overall feeling that I got is that big monolithic publishing is a sitting duck. The conversations that I overheard ranged from “well we might be able to do that if we had those numbers” to “we should try to talk about something like that when I get back in March.” I also spoke with some smaller companies doing cool stuff.
“How many of you just use myspace to prowl for underage girls?…. Alright, about half of you.”
“Publishers are really just VCs that find and fund ideas. For some reason you think you’re in the paper selling business.”
“I want to charge very little or nothing for a lot of information and then charge a whole bunch for very little information.”