This is a screencast of the DRM presentations I gave last week at O’Reilly Media’s Tools of Change for Publishing conference.
In some ways, TOC Frankfurt was like every other TOC conference. The event brought together the usual assortment of publishing professionals, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders to discuss the future of an industry in the midst of a massive transformation. Over the past three years TOC has emerged as the go to source for publishers looking to expose themselves to innovative ideas and the cutting edge technology that is shaping the future of the book business.
TOC Frankfurt differed from previous TOC conferences in a few notable ways, however. First, the event lasted just a single day, rather than the usual three. As a result, attendees got what might best be described as a concentrated dose of the TOC vision. Then there was the fact that the conference was being held in Europe for the first time. The Frankfurt conference had a distinctly more international feel to it than previous TOCs. And finally, there was the post-conference media coverage, some of which was less than flattering.
Not so long ago, conventional wisdom was that the publishing industry was somehow immune to many of the developments that have transformed every other form of media over the past few years. Book publishers held a deep and abiding faith in the power of the printed volume to withstand the insurgency of digital media.
That faith has fractured a bit over the past year as publishers have watched the surprising success of the Kindle and the emergence of the iPhone as a viable digital reading device.
Suddenly publishers are racing to come to terms with their digital future. In recent months we’ve seen publishers delivering iPhone apps, experiment with DRM-free content, and offering free downloads.
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve seen this exact same transformation take place in nearly every other form of media. From past history we know that once the digital media ball starts rolling, the status quo can change very rapidly. It is, no doubt, an exciting time to watch the publishing industry, but a scary time to actually be part of that industry — unless, of course, you’re open to new business models and a complete reinvention of everything you do.