FutureBook Conference 2014 Report

Did you attend the 2014 FutureBook Conference? This week’s newsflash is by Daniela Helming who was able to attend the conference as part of an internship with The Bookseller.

Last week I attended the FutureBook Conference, the biggest publishing conference in Europe.

The lineup was truly amazing and it was therefore really hard to decide which talks to attend. The talks covered a wide range of topics ranging from suggestions on how to improve the current situation of the publishing business to discussions that expressed the belief that the publishing business will never die.

Publishing Needs To Be Social

One of the most significant topics discussed was consumer insight and the associated role of social media.

Consumer insight is not seen as a big, mysterious concept anymore, but rather has become an integral part of modern publishing, explained Sara Lloyd (Pan Macmillan). As an example, she mentioned Pan Macmillan’s ‘backquistion. This concept describes the use of consumer insight to develop an initial story idea. The first novel resulting from that project will be published next year.

Sam Aspinall (Touchpress) saw apps as a great way to engage readers and offer the possibility of gaining an insight into the user’s reading behaviour.

Even though a lot of content can benefit from being rendered into an app, not all content is suitable for such a transition, she pointed out.

Another crucial topic in this context is social media. It is not only a cheap, but rewarding way to engage with readers that also offers new marketing possibilities.

Tumblr and Youtube were the two platforms discussed at the conference. Rachel Fershleiser from Tumblr demonstrated the benefits of the platform in a stimulating talk which, I am sure, encouraged everyone to join the community.

The Future?

Sanne Vliegenthart and Rosianna Halse Rojas, both famous ‘booktubers’, displayed the importance of Youtube for the publishing industry. Unfortunately, publishers have not yet made enough use of the great opportunity vloggers offer them. Rosianna Halse Rojas claims that “publishers need to view booktubers as expert collaborators.”

Now working as a digital coordinator, Sanne Vliegenthart got her job by submitting a Youtube video demonstrating an exemplary use of the platform. She pointed out that Tumblr is the place where trends go viral and therefore should be used for marketing campaigns and for finding new trends.

Social is the way to go

It becomes clear that it is highly important for publishers to make use of social media. Therefore, they are ever more frequently looking for people who know their way around these platforms. But as crucial as social media and computing skills are, Marissa Hussey (Orion) said that the most important characteristic to look for in employees is curiosity.

In my opinion, social media is already highly important to the publishing business and I think its importance will grow over the coming years. It presents a great opportunity to engage with young readers, while not increasing the publisher’s expenses to a great extent.

On the other hand, it is important to not forget that there are still readers from various demographics who are not yet as engaged with social media as others.

Additional information and insights from the FutureBook Conference can be found here:

Featured image courtesy of the amazing Porter Anderson!

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