Innovation & Tech Today recently spoke with Bradley Metrock, executive producer of the Digital Book World (DBW) Conference and Expo and the CEO of Score Publishing.
DBW takes place October 2-4 in Nashville, Tennessee at the Music City Center, gathering publishers large and small, traditional and trail-blazing, and the technology companies which serve all of them.
Innovation & Tech Today: Digital Book World was recently referred to as “The Super Bowl of Publishing” by Writers Boon. Tell us about the upcoming big event.
Bradley Metrock: Digital Book World is the gathering of the wide world of publishing. From trade publishing, to scholarly and academic publishing, to independent publishing, to corporate publishing across medium to large companies across the world, to educational publishing, and all the tech companies which serve publishers large and small, Digital Book World 2018 will have it all. It’s one of the most anticipated publishing events of the year, in one of the hottest conference cities in the United States.
I&T Today: What’s happening in the book publishing industry right now that will be covered at the event?
BM: A major emerging theme of Digital Book World, which reflects one of the biggest trends in publishing itself, is the rise of audio. Not just audiobooks – which comprise the fastest growing sector of the industry – but also podcasts. Podcasts have exploded in popularity and serve a vital role in the marketing and discoverability of books today, as well as voice assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant both have rapidly risen to prominence in American households and around the world, and are being studied by publishers large and small for how they can be effectively utilized.
I&T Today: Publishing is not just about books. Enterprises can also be their own publishers. For example, Southwest Airlines, who’s presenting at Digital Book World, publishes a tremendous amount of material inside and outside the company, from its own in-flight magazine to enterprise-wide training curriculum. Why should businesses of all kinds attend DBW to learn more about publishing? And what can they learn?
BM: When gathering together the wide world of publishing, and creating an environment where publishers of every type and size can learn from each other, we have to consider the medium to large scale companies – in every industry – which are de facto publishers of their own. Companies like Southwest Airlines, Intel, Nissan, and countless others, which publish their own material inside and outside their companies, need to be part of the conversation, sharing their workflows, and discussing their publishing needs and challenges. Digital Book World 2018 will provide that opportunity.
I&T Today: Accessibility is a hot topic when it comes to publishing. Tell us about that and the innovation that’s happening there.
BM: Accessibility is a focal point throughout digital publishing these days, and simple concepts have the greatest impact. Things like being able to change the font size within digital books, to being able to have a book read back to you – either natively within a digital book, or simply by choosing to purchase an audiobook – are advances for accessibility we shouldn’t take for granted. Continued standardization of digital books, along with the unstoppable advance of voice-first technology, will open a lot of new doors for making existing content accessible to more and more people.
I&T Today: What advice do you have for those seeking to publish their own work, whether they publish independently or seek out a publishing house?
BM: If you’re asking the question, you’re probably squarely in the camp that is better served publishing your own book rather than seeking out a big publisher to handle it for you. The tools are there to produce a professional quality book, both in print and digital formats. The ecosystems are there to get your book the editing and polishing it will need to be on par with books published by bigger houses. And whereas a bigger publisher has many competing interests, to you, your book is everything. You’ll market it much more effectively than any marketer at a big publisher could. Go for it. And as you do, consider Digital Book World a great resource to come learn the same best practices, and get exposed to the same thought leadership that publishers, small and large across the world, enjoy.
I&T Today: Your company, Score Publishing, also produces The Alexa Conference, in addition to Digital Book World. The Alexa Conference focuses on voice-first technology. How can publishing – or even other industries – utilize voice-first technology?
BM: Two main ways exist right now for publishers to take advantage of the rapidly growing presence of voice assistants, smart speakers, and other voice-first technology. The first is to create your own Alexa skill – Amazon’s nomenclature for an Alexa “app”; this could be a simple port of an audiobook into the Amazon ecosystem, such as, “Alexa, play The Pelican Brief” or “Alexa, play Tom Clancy’s latest novel.” This allows your content to live within the Internet of Things. The second is to create a flash briefing – a very brief, daily audio announcement made through a voice assistant like Alexa – out of your content. Harper Collins was among the first to do this, and they spoke about it at the first-ever Alexa Conference back in January 2017; and it has turned into a powerful way to associate valuable content with valued daily routines to build customer loyalty in new ways.
I&T Today: Tell us about Digital Book World’s sister company, VoiceFirst.FM, which focuses on voice technology.
BM: VoiceFirst.FM is the global podcast network for the new era of voice-first computing. Professionals in every walk of life, as well as tons of enthusiasts simply yearning for insight, want to know more about voice technology – more properly referred to as voice-first technology – from the experts working in the field, day in and day out. VoiceFirst.FM, through a wide and growing variety of podcasts, provides that insight, connecting listeners to world class experts on a weekly basis.
I&T Today: Digital Book World has traditionally been held in New York, and now it’s moving to Nashville this October. Is the New York literary scene following?
BM: We’ve been fortunate that the largest of publishers, including those taking up residence in New York City where Digital Book World has historically been held, have supported this one-of-a-kind event. Large publishers, such as Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House, will be in Nashville this fall alongside the smallest of new publishers seeking the insights that will make 2019 successful.
I&T Today: What are you looking forward to the most at Digital Book World this year?
BM: It will be fun to see the DBW 2018 Exhibit Hall, which has grown to 8x the size of last year’s Digital Book World. But if I had to name one speaker, it would be Pamela Paul, who has transformed the New York Times Book Review into an inspiring, data-driven enterprise all its own. Just like everyone speaking throughout Digital Book World 2018, we’re honored to have her join us.
To learn more about Digital Book World, visit https://www.digitalbookworld.com