"How do you want the child to feel when he touches the screen and something happens?" [Deborah Forte - Scholastic]
You may have already heard almost everything about Tools of Change at Bologna Children's Book Fair. A great success for the first Italian TOC: sold out about ten days before the conference, international focus on the future of children publishing.
App was the keyword. Brian O'Leary had to say "This is an app-free presentation!" to reassure audience. But, joking aside, the topic has been so deeply analyzed that we can list different aspects about.
A new mentality
Mentality is the point, the reason of the quote at the beginning of this post. The only way to approach digital publishing is to become readers, first. Nobody could think to publish physical books without even having touched one of them. Yet sometimes you have not idea about going digital, because you are not a reader, before being a publisher. How can you project an app without having even used one, without understanding how it works and what would you like it to do, precisely?
The innovation, as Deborah Forte says, comes from the ways we find to connect our editorial project to its audience. Your content should have a reason to be there: finding this reason is publishing itself. Does features of your app help and add value for your costumers?
Deb Gaffin showed how developers are included in the creative team during the process that brings to the birth of an application. They have to be there, with their experience and skills: it's the only way to skip the phase of physical books adaptation to digital formats and to start creating new contents.
Put the reader first
Digital publishing brings publishers closer to readers: we need to catch this chance, learning to move in a different - and often unusual - environement, using appropriate tools. We have to find readers where they are on the Web, where they choose to be: we cannot wait for their coming to us to have the opportunity to talk to them, we should know where they are.
We are not listening to experts anymore, we listen to one another, says Kate Wilson. Reviews and recommendations are a more important purchase prompt for ebooks than for paper books, more than twice as important. In this perspective, free and cheap are basic: people want to try the experience for free before buying. This is a crucial matter for more than one speaker: also Deborah Forte points out that free samples are not only one of the biggest chance of digital publishing, but they represent a way to drive the conversation about the content: they are a marketing tool.
But, mostly, you can't think that your job is over just creating your product, whether an app or an ebook: you've to take care of it, following the conversations about, understanding how people are using it. Again, you have to stay where your readers are, even after they've bought your content. You can call this "social publishing", as Aaron Miller says.
More topics, in short:
Costs: developing applications is not cheap and could be hard to say which is the appropriate price. The answer is mentality change: if you understand what kind of efforts you need to develop your project, than you'll be able to get the right price for that. Just as you know what works for paper books.
Market: do kids read ebooks? There are some statistics that can give you answers: don't worry if you miss the numbers, TOC presentations will be avaliable in the next weeks. But are kids confused, afraid or curious about digital publishing? Well, we can have a look to the Kat Mayer's video to gain an insight.
Last words for a speaker and one idea.
Speaker is Laura Donnini, from Mondadori. One of the most brilliant presentation of the day, I have to say: concreteness, difficulties and projects on stage. "Do you think it's been easy? Was not", she says. How have they been able to do it? Creating a new team, young skilled people, ready to learn a lot, with an eye both on technology and on content.
The idea is that you can't work in publishing without having fun, enjoying your job. Whether digital or not. And trust us, we know what it means.