Before I embark on day three and the e-book expo ‘signing’ I will be a part of Friday 4-6 p.m., thought I’d drop in and tell you a bit about my impressions so far…
The lobby of the Westin Bonaventure hums with chatter echoing though the four levels of its lower concrete columned interior towers. The fountains are empty, part of a refurbishing project lay dormant while the two thousand plus attendees of the 2011 Romantic Times Booklovers Conventions hurry from conference room, to bar to ball room.
What makes this convention different is the tenor of the content. Panels consisting of authors, agents and editors in various groupings and covering a broad array of publishing related subject matter have tried hard to ignore the pink elephant in the corner.
The holiday season of 2010 saw an unprecedented sales of I-pads and dedicated reading devices; avalanches of electronic books sold. When the trend is referenced, presenter’s faces ashen as they share their predictions of the ‘tipping point’ just over the horizon–that time when electronic books will outsell their legacy printed progenitors.
“It’s a very exciting time in the publishing world.”
“The tutelage and direction of an agent is needed more than ever.”
” Even Amanda Hocking (new millionaire via self publishing) has gotten herself an agent and a traditional publisher.”
“Popular thriller author and until now, traditionally published Barry Eisler may have turned down an enormous advance from a print publisher for his next project, but he is one of the few with the temperament and knowledge base to do it all on his own.”
No one actually said they are nervous, but the air is thick with concern, nay worry over how this is all going to wash.
No one knows.
Huge corporations with massive investment in books and an excellent record of cutting edge innovation have not sorted out how to re-create the atmosphere of a brick and mortar bookstore (online)–a place where readers can look at hundreds of books on shelves, quickly peruse spine and book covers, touch the product to find that perfect new read.
That is the term they used to define what this brave new world of internet and electronic publishing has not been able to master.
How does a reader wade through the increasing numbers of new authors and books to find his/her next favorite? How does a new author get ‘discovered’?
Will even the appearance of hitting the mega jackpot sales lottery by slapping up your own book online without benefit of agent, editor or publisher create an exodus of talent from the traditional publishing channels?
They say that fear is excitement taken to the next level. Fear, held in check very closely mimics excitement.
Not a handful of years ago, New York print publishers sat on their throne of tradition. So sure of their place were they, many members discounted e-books as poor quality pulp fiction–a fad.
The RT Booklovers Convention is a buzz.
One editor was heard to say “We have undergone more change in the last seven months than all twenty five years of my tenure”.
The publishing world is an exciting place to be.