BookExpo America (BEA) is currently under way at the Convention Center in Washington DC and Medialoper has been on the scene hoping to make some sense of the current state of the publishing industry.
In an apparent nod to the current administration, BEA has reverted to the use of Nixon era technology. While wireless internet is available at the convention, it’ll set you back $49.95 per day (that is not a typo), reporters are encouraged to use typewriters (manual, of course), and the Scientology Racing Team appears to be the hight of technological sophistication here.
Maybe it’s just the pain pills talking, but the publishing industry comes across as being a backwards version of the recording industry. It’s no secret that all content industries are in crises, but publishing may actually be the farthest behind.
Which is, perhaps, why this event started with a day of 2.0. 2.0 what you ask? Good question, because the planners apparently have no idea. The press release announcing the day of sessions repeatedly refers to 2.0 without any indication of what 2.0 is – other than to say that it’s important and it’s changing the world.
Technically they meant Web 2.0, and fortunately the presenters on Thursday had a clue. After a slow start in which John Blossom of Shore Communications paid tribute to PowerPoint bullet points, things picked up a bit with perennial futurist Don Tapscott, and the day concluded with Chris Anderson providing a sneak peak of his soon-to-be-released The Long Tail (complete with advanced reading copies – fortunately I did not succumb to an Amazon pre-order on this one, but you definitely should).
There was just one problem. With the exception of The Long Tail session, the other Web 2.0 sessions were mostly empty. It’s actually not a surprise considering Web 2.0 has, until the recent Newsweek cover story, been almost exclusively the domain of web geeks. In the context of BEA, however, Web 2.0 seems to be a proxy for the Internet in general. It might as well be Web 1.0 (or Web 49.95 as the case may be).
Having vented a bit, I have to note that there’s some actual news being made here. I’m working on posts about the coming Book Search Wars, as well as Amazon’s interesting new Upgrade and BookSurge products. The publishing industry may want no part of the future, but Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are doing their best to drag publishers into the 21st century.
In the meantime, most of the real action has been taking place after hours. Team Loper has discovered that a press pass will get you in just about anywhere in Washington (just ask Jeff Gannon). If only we’d known this sooner we’d probably have put in for permanent media credentials. Consider the following:
- The French Embassy serves only German Beer – what’s up with that?
- Lit bloggers don’t drink nearly as much as you’d expect.
- William Bennett is even bigger and whiter in person. He’s like a whale, really.
- Wink Martindale (yes, I said Wink Martindale) still wears the same wig.
I have actual photos to back up some of these claims, but a man who thinks that he’s a bat dropped the camera and it’s been sent out for repairs.