The Future of the Book in NZ

Just back from the Future of the Book Conference in Auckland, New Zealand, where I did a couple of panels. There were problems with the wifi network in the hotel (hence the lack of posts) and then my flight was delayed 19 hours (well, actually we got an hour out of Sydney then were turned back by Australian Air Traffic Controllers who were apparently having radar issues. Take two didn’t happen until the next morning). Here’s some impressions from a fun, and informative few days (notwithstanding the travel issues!)

  • I blogged earlier this year that 2009 felt different in the e-book space. Sure enough, it seems that everyone (publishers, authors and the MSM) are interested. We had a fair amount of media interest and lots of publishers seemed to be attending.
  • The lack of specialist e-book device in the Antipodes leaves a yawning gap. But it’s still chicken and egg – Oz/NZ publishers are really only just testing the waters – but the impression is that they *know* that change is in the air
  • That gap is partly filled by the iphone. You could have been forgiven that part of the conference was an Apple fanboy festival 🙂 Even there though, Stanza users in Oz/NZ only make up 2-3% of lexcycle’s userbase (which is still a substantial number though). Probably because the content relationships are still being forged. (Chicken/egg again)…
  • EPub is winning the hearts in the format wars. And to my eyes, kindle (and its format) looks a little like Windows 1.0 – it’s a step towards the Amazon dominance, but there’s still time for other formats/platforms to play – they just have to remember what happened when Microsoft released Windows 3.0 (and hope that epub stakes its claim before Amazon gets to an analogous release.)
  • Publishers are thinking about new workflows to incorporate ebooks (or subcontracting the digitising of backlists). And whilst xml *should* play some role, I suspect the real-life ebook workflow will be the ‘export to epub’ button.

1 comment so far

  1. John Warren on

    are you going to the International Conference of the Book again this year? Scotland!

    It amazes me to no end how many iphone users “still” don’t have, and are not even aware of, the Stanza app or Kindle app. Almost NO ONE I’ve meet who is not in publishing has those apps. So, could mean it’s a dead horse, people aren’t interested in reading on that screen. But what I THINK it means is people just haven’t discovered them. Almost invariably, the first reaction is ” I can’t read something on that screen” but then when I show them, they always say “Wow, I didn’t realize it is so readable.”
    For short bursts, that is… I don’t expect anyone to read for 3 hours on it, like you could on a Kindle. But I don’t have 3 hours to read in a row, ever, and I’m not alone.
    Great thing about the iphone/touch, is that you (can) always have it with you, unlike a ereader device like the Kindle etc.

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