Publishing and more

23Aug09

One of my themes for this blog is learning about, and exploring other industries. Publishing and bookselling is related to libraries, but I don’t often have time to keep up with what is going on. Michael Tamblyn, formerly of BookNet Canada, a new technology incubator for Canadian publishers, distributors and booksellers, gave a humourous presentation that looked ahead to future trends, and also examined how past recessions and innovation intersected in business history.

The mainstream news has been full of doom and gloom with the worst recession in more than 15 years, but as I often say recessions breed opportunity as people are more willing to take risks in adopting technology or ways to sell things. See Tamblyn’s chart of technologies and retailers that launched, like IPods or Starbucks coffee. Coming from the library world, the typical workflow to produce a book was an eye-opener as there are too many players with too many electronic formats. I can appreciate that Tamblyn’s wish list of meaningful XML format is a daunting task. But something that the industry wants to strive for because the outcome will be worthwhile.

Tamblyn made me laugh, when he said that the online book buying process was stuck in 1995. It is true that it has not changed beyond searching then finding a results list, and moving to a shopping cart. But web sites,  like Book Crossing, Library Thing, Shelfari and  author’s sites, have enhanced the browsing experience. I get referrals from friends, or I can see on Shelfari (book club crossed with Web 2.0) what others are tagging. So the world for readers is not 1995, if they are willing to  research. Serendipity online happens in a different way than within the Amazon or Chapters environment.

I will want to check out some of the graphical mashups he mentioned that display book covers. They are not ideal as he is seeking a digital equivalent to browsing a independent bookstore. The Luddite in me will still prefer browsing the stacks at Elliott Bay Book Company and hearing my steps creak on the wooden floor to online book purchases.

Lastly he addresses specialists in an industry and overcoming barriers to adopt innovation in technology. Although he is talking about the publishing world, he could be talking about my corporate library. There is a lot of fear in adopting changes, and there could be a variety of personal, emotional and rational reasons to resist.  Frankly I don’t know where business or libraries are heading, but I am enjoying the ride taking one day at a time, and taking the risk to provide a better service for my customers.

– Brenda

To Explore:
Book Crossing
Library ThingShelfari
Stephen King, unaffiliated with publisher
Neil Gaiman affiliated with  his publisher

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