‘The Most Senior In Continental Europe’
There are, it turns out, myriad ways to structure and calibrate the discussions and debates and conversations that go into a good publishing conference.
This year, one of the most interesting contextualizations awaits us in Berlin. There, international publishing specialist and consultant Rüdiger Wischenbart is at the helm of Publishers’ Forum, following a decade of able direction from Helmut von Berg.
Always a distinctive combination of warm welcome and refreshing rigor, this conference is singularly positioned now — thanks to von Berg’s careful stewardship and Wischenbart’s standing in the world community — to begin opening a bit more widely to the international realm that has so much to learn from the experiences of the German market.
Germany is the leading publishing nexus in Continental Europe. Indeed, despite tremendous strides in China and India — both impacting the global business with fast-rising vitality — Germany has led the way for many years along with the States and the United Kingdom. Not for nothing is the largest publishing trade show in the world the venerable Frankfurt Book Fair (October 14-18). Its own proud legacy has been to help prepare the German publishing industry for the exigencies of the digital dynamic.
And yet, as in every other major publishing hub, digital does not walk softly or slowly. Quick, sometimes profoundly unsettling changes have become as familiar to our German colleagues as they are to associates in our own markets. The shock of the new is an equal-opportunity agitation. To point to only two centers of interest, Germany’s emerging self-publishing community is among the most robust in the world, and the German-born Tolino e-reading devices and ecosystem have, by some reports begun to rival Amazon’s Kindle presence, as Tolino crosses borders into other European markets.
I’ve been given the green light by US-based publishing veteran and consultant Brian O’Leary to jump ahead to what will be happening next week as Publishers’ Forum concludes
O’Leary will chair a conference-closing discussion titled “Outlook: Perspectives On The Road Ahead.” Working with panelists Zoe Beck of Culturebooks, Benjamin Wüstenhagen of K-Lab, and Jörg Rheinboldt of Axel Springer Plug and Play, “We’ll explore what works, and what doesn’t work,” O’Leary tells me, “for those laboring at the leading edges of our industry.” He goes on:
Our closing panel considers the conference themes — strategy and goals, IT’s role, customer focus and new business models — from the standpoints of a publishing startup, an independent author and a publishing innovation lab. To frame the discussion, I will offer a brief overview that links the content of the 2015 conference to a persistent call for a shift in our approach to creating, managing and distributing content. That overview will inform and help us moderate a discussion among the panelists, who will share their thinking about those things they feel publishers can work on to improve their competitive position in the time to come.
If you’re getting a sense of déjà-vu, it might be because this is what we heard just yesterday (April 21) from the author and Silicon Valley Lean Startup creator Eric Ries. In our interview with him at London’s The FutureBook, Ries talks with great candor about how deeply and thoroughly any corporate entity, not just one in publishing, has to reconsider and reconfigure systems and philosophy in order to take advantage of the entrepreneurial energy that’s fueling so much of the digital disruption.
As Ries tells us there:
It’s not something an individual person taking their own initiative can do. You can’t just disobey the corporate profits and hope for the best. It takes a new process and a new system that supports this way of working. And companies I’ve seen embrace it have had very dramatic results with it.
O’Leary will be looking for ways forward by asking his panelists such questions as:
- From your perspective, what are the best opportunities for publishers to pursue in the next few years?
- What obstacles, including but not limited to culture, skill sets and core competencies, stand in the way of publishers realizing the potential of those opportunities?
- If you could change one thing to make your work with publishers easier or more effective, what would that be?
- Are there things that publishers typically misunderstand about your work? How do you work with them to create a better understanding?
And the road to those questions will have been paved — as O’Leary suggests — by a quartet of themes devised by Wischenbart to drive the entire conference’s inquiries.
There’s more: Read the full story at Thought Catalog
By Porter Anderson
Writing on the Ether: Berlin’s ‘Senior’ Publishers’ Forum Convenes In A Digitally Youthful Industry
Originally published by Thought Catalog at www.ThoughtCatalog.com