Project 9: Frankfurt Book Fair 2012: closing report

Aim: Develop contacts and build team expertise by sending content manager to the world’s biggest publishing trade fair.

General report-back

Tarryn’s trip to Frankfurt was very productive in terms of building relationships and learning more about the international publishing industry. Her full report is attached at the end of this document.

Objectives achieved

Actions taken:

  • Travel to Frankfurt, attend the fair, meeting rightsholders and attending seminars.
  • Upon her return, Tarryn presented to the team, wrote up a report on what she learned, and put in place action points to follow up on the content leads she generated.

As planned, this has had a positive effect on Paperight’s effectiveness with publishers, and helped a  lot with the even more successful trip to the London Book Fair in 2013.

Objectives not achieved

We believe we met all our objectives.

Measures of success

Before: “We expect: Tarryn’s confidence and ability to correspond with international publishers is greater, and this rubs off on the team. We’ll learn as an organisation whether the investment in these kinds of trips is worth it, and what we need to do differently in future to increase that value.”

After: This definitely happened.

Before: “We would like: To see publishers abroad adding content to Paperight within weeks of meeting Tarryn at the fair. To see lessons learned from the trip directly affecting (or affirming) the way we approach publishers from day to day, from social messaging to direct pitches.”

After: No publishers put content on Paperight in the weeks immediately following the fair. During 2013, five of the publishers that Tarryn met in Frankfurt have signed up and put content on Paperight (Modjaji Books, Do Sustainability, O’Reilly Media, SelfMadeHero and Random House Struik). It was only after a second meeting at the London Book Fair that this happened (except for O’Reilly, who signed up after our win at Tools of Change in February). We’ve learned that signing up established publishers takes months and usually at least two meetings at trade fairs.

Lessons learned from the trip have directly affected and affirmed the ways we approach publishers.

Before: “We would love to see: We’d love Tarryn to be invited back at part of the Frankfurt Invitation Programme. (Arthur was on this in 2009, an excellent intro and training programme sponsored entirely by the fair, to bring young publishing people from developing countries to the fair. Arthur will set up a meeting for Tarryn with the organisers.)”

After: In 2013 the Invitation Programme did not accept applications from South Africa, seeking applications from elsewhere. We’re told applications will be open to South Africans again in 2014.

Budget

Original budget: R23680

Actual spend: R17180.35

Returned to pool: R6499.65

 

 

Item Budget Actual Return to Pool Comments
Flight 12000 10055 1945
Hotel 7200 2376 4824
Trains and Taxis 1000 1165.25 -165.25
Food 1980 2021.58 -41.58
Fair Registration 700 700.50 -0.50
Visa 800 832. -62
TOTAL 23680 17180.33 6499.67

 

Outputs and deliverables

A detailed report of meetings and seminars attended, and feedback from discussions about Paperight and related ventures in the industry: see Tarryn’s report attached below.

Learnings

The most important learning is that attending trade fairs on a consistent basis, and meeting with publishers there, is critical to building relationships that lead to distribution deals.

In addition, from Tarryn’s report:

  • “Having a stall ties you down as one team member has to constantly stay there. It also does not necessarily provide a strong ROI, as the people who we want to talk to are not usually going to be the ones walking up to stands.
  • Obviously, having more than one team member working the floor allows you to cover much much more ground – especially when these efforts are targeted and coordinated. The Snapplify team was able to generate 5x the leads that I was.
  • It is important to have a ‘hit list’ of publishers/people that you want to target, so you know who your big fish are. I did this to some extent, but could have done it better. I think this task is simpler when you have a clear idea of what the fair looks like, and who will be there, as well as a focused strategy around the leads you want to generate and nurture. This is something that I will work on for next year/time.
  • Info sheets would be useful to leave with publishers who you are talking to for the first time. A number of people actually asked me if I had an info sheet for them, especially towards the end when everything is mixing together in your brain, or when the decision makers have left and the minions cannot convey the ideas properly.”

Exit/Sustainability/Viability

We will definitely attend future trade fairs, and will need to fund each of these case by case. The DTI provides some funding towards this, and we will use project funding where necessary too.

Conclusion

Great trip, an important learning experience that has had a positive effect on the team and our business.

Next steps

We’re planning for the next trip already.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2012: Feedback Report.

I attended the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair with the mandate of developing publisher relationships and sourcing content leads for Paperight.

I attended seminars, workshops, and panel discussions given by industry professionals and leaders, with a view to learning more about the inner workings of the publishing industry. I was also able to get a sense for where the industry is, and where it sees itself moving in the future – particularly with regards to developments in the digital sector.

The publishers with whom I met broadly fell into three categories:

  • Those who are already making their material available on Paperight (in order to build upon an existing working relationship).
  • Those who we have already contacted about Paperight, and who are keen, but who have not officially provided us with material or signed contracts (in order to ‘close the deal’, and foster trust).
  • Those who are hearing about Paperight for the first time (in order to build contacts and establish relationships with potential rightsholders).

The following report offers a synopsis of the sessions I attended, a breakdown of discussions with publishers (as well as a schedule of follow ups to be completed), and some lessons learned for getting the most out of the fair in the future.

Seminars/Panel Discussions Attended

Data Insights with Bowker:

The seminar, given by Bowker’s Director of Client Solutions James Howitt, sought to answer the question of “how social media and social networks are changing the ways that readers discuss books” using data gathered through specific research studies run by Bowker for its clients.

The study monitored 6000 customers each month, taking account of their demographics, book choices, retailer choices, book awareness, and favoured formats. The numbers that resulted from the research were interesting, showing a reading population of around 49% in the US, with “power buyers” who purchase multiple titles accounting for more than half of the total book sales occurring. The numbers also show an increase in the purchase of ebooks in the US, with 25% of all books sold being consumed in digital form.

The downfall of the research is it’s incompleteness, only having been conducted in geographic areas and amongst populations that were of direct commercial significance to the Bowker client. Despite the limited relevancy of the findings in a South African/African context, the principles behind the project – namely of understanding who your user is and how they are becoming aware of your product – are applicable to marketing efforts. Bowker found that the primary influencer of people’s book buying behaviour was personal recommendation, noting that if one is able to identify and harness this, then one is able to achieve an “influence multiplier”.

Also fascinating was the finding that the readers of different genres obtain these recommendations from different sources. Romance readers, for example, receive these from blogs or via general web-browsing, while mystery readers will obtain recommendations from fan pages or forums to which they subscribe. [YA literature is often recommended via blogs, YouTube, and GoodReads – usually a combination of all three].

The team has conducted similar research in Canada, the UK, and Australia. Here he notes that they found that reading/buying behaviours were similar over different territories, but that there were significant differences in the genres that were favoured in those territories.

Lessons Learned in Digital Publishing:

The panel, hosted by Richard Mollet (CEO of the Publishing Association), consisted of Richard Charkin (Executive Director, Bloomsbury), Matt Hanbury (CEO, Murdoch Books), and George Lossius (CEO, Publishing Technology). Tasked with the job of considering what lessons we’ve learnt after 10 years of digital, they began on a positive note. “This industry has adapted remarkably… academic publishing is now 90% digital, with trade at 20 % and rising quickly”, Charkin said. “What we have not done is adapt our printing  systems to the new world”, Charkin noted that book printing remains complicated, with 24 handlings of a book existing between manufacture and purchase. What he asserted right from the get-go was the necessity of applying the lessons learned from digital to the core business of print” [an angle which may be relevant for marketing Paperight].

The other panelists lamented the external influences (and influencers) which have altered the ways in which content is delivered to the market. Lossius, while noting that digital giants like Amazon, as well as innovation and development of communications technology in general, has meant that more people can more easily access the books that they want, commented that the danger is that publishers have allowed themselves to be easily governed by big players. Hanbury agreed, saying that in encountering the digital world, devices have captivated the consumer market to the extent that the device becomes more important than the content. This power is what results in publishers massively slashing prices in deals with Amazon and Apple.

In light of Kindle’s domination of the market, the panel was asked their views on the successes of alternatives in the future. To this Lossius responded that while Amazon is successful now, their closed business models will be their downfall.

Other Coverage:

Book Fair Blog: http://bit.ly/TxLaKt

Publishing Perspectives: http://bit.ly/XxvLhB

Publisher’s Weekly: http://bit.ly/PeIzdb

A Comprehensive Approach to Mobile Learning – A Professional Solution:

Centering around the notion that “mobility is in our natures”, the education expert giving this talk began with the argument that humans are used to moving and inherently adaptable to change. Students, she noted, find standard education systems boring, and with the increased consumption of digital media (80% of US Students have smart phones) technology can change this.

Her view is that education practices need to be adapted to take account of the way that students interact with media. Lessons need to be shorter, she argues, due to the fact that attention spans are short, and repetitions, as well as breaks between these are important.

Yet merely “refreshing” teaching practices using new media, is not sufficiently “comprehensive” in my opinion to warrant the title of the session. She focused only on tablet and smartphone classroom integration in the US, with no insights given to mobility and education in developing and emerging economies.

The State of Piracy in a Post MegaUpload World:

Given by an organisation calling themselves “Guardian for Books”, the session covered a service that they offer as a complement to DRM by allowing for added protection of copyright material. Their presentation played into the fears of all the publishers present, and their argument was that the only way to combat “continuous piracy” is with “continuous disruption” (where disruption is a takedown notice).

A highly unimaginative and closed minded approach to piracy and the potential solutions. The only interesting thing that he mentioned was that after Mega Upload was taken down, P2P downloads increased by 30%.

Metadata Goes Global:

This was a fantastic 3 hour workshop on metadata as a tool for publishers, given by industry leaders Laura Dawson (Bowker), and Brian O’Leary (Magellan Media Partners). My ticket was complimentary, despite a hefty $300 price tag, because the key speaker (Laura Dawson) is a Paperight champion.

The workshop was divided into 3 segments:

Getting metadata right
1. Where are we today?
  • Currently metadata is an incredibly labour intensive, manual process – especially for publishers.
  • It requires constant re-inspection “downstream”.
  • It can often be inconsistent, and is difficult to revise or update.

Vendors today are not necessarily booksellers, which means that the rules change. To back up these three points, Laura goes through a research case study they conducted over 10 retailers/vendors, to see how quickly metadata updates occur after it is disseminated.

The findings showed that the industry standard was for updates to occur within 2-5 business days (at leading retailers). They also found that certain types of data were updated more frequently than others. In order of update frequency: Page count, price, subtitle, description, on sale date, publication date, author (the later two data types hardly ever get updated).

2. What needs to change in the current system?

These delays are a result of systemic problems in the way that metadata is created, and can be averted if clear communication is occurring between retailers and publishers as to what format the metadata should be provided in, and how to optimise metadata workflow in order to reduce the problems created by the ‘lag’ (i.e: duplicates of small updates/overwriting of more complete data).

  • The system is not built for speed.
  • Most updates only take place in week 2.
  • The problems and delays are not for lack of trying, but as a result of time-consuming workflow processes.
  • There is the potential that this could get worse with new entrants to the market. New sites do not create complete and relevant data, which means the waters are further muddied.
3. How do we get ready?

Process recommendations:

  • Use “book in hand” (physical product) to gather local inhouse feedback.
  • Strengthen sender-recipients feedback loops (i.e: clearly communicate with publishers).
  • Ensure that there are shared definitions for core fields.
  • Articulate when updates occur, and what gets updated (and what doesn’t) to the sender.
  • Discuss what metadata is changed, added, and deleted.

Future-proofing metadata:

  • Collaborate to automate data workflows and compress cycle times (take some of the work out of it).
  • Prepare for more frequent updates (marketing metadata – awards etc.)
  • Harmonise print and digital metadata workflows.
  • Better manage the use of style tags (either limit, or eliminate them). Not all retailers can deal with the HTML styling, so be sure to provide data as text only.
4. What might we be missing?

Context (metadata) rules on the next plateau.

  • Increasingly open, accessible, interoperable.
  • Using context to promote discovery: It’s easy to publish a book (there are currently 32+ million in print) so you need to be able to differentiate your product.
  • Readers need to be given tools that help them manage abundance.

What is the next plateau? (Three trends we may be missing out on)

  • Global (effectively visible everywhere)
    • Online access makes every book visible, but many (most) markets can see and not buy. This makes consumers frustrated and can lead to piracy.
    • Readers don’t understand things like territorial rights. This is an outdated concept which delay the time to market and results in lost sales.
    • Pricing needs to make sense in a specific territory/market.
    • Digital customers are being alienated when they have to wait for content to be made available to them.
    • New delivery options are becoming increasingly important: DRM free formats, subscription based models, component or short-format sales, and pay-as-you-go rights.
  • Integrated metadata (tied to the product it describes)
    • The value of metadata is in how closely it is tied to the product it describes. This is already an issue in digital product sales (where the metadata is created after the fact and thus not as integrated.
    • There is a growing issue with rights sales, where the people doing the sales are not also doing the metadata.
    • Without integrated, granular metadata, this can result in a nightmare when trying to sell components.
    • While epub3 has a great metadata component, publishers are reluctant to use it because they do not want the metadata to be locked in a file (as it changes so regularly). They prefer to edit a feed, even though this does not aid discoverability.
  • Evolutionary (continual revision and capturing of metadata)
    • Increasingly metadata supports how consumers find books. Recipients of the data (e.g: retailers) contribute much of the metadata after publication: awards, prizes, “bestseller” status, endorsements, book tour data, refined reading and grade levels, as well as marketing collateral.
    • It is important to monitor chatter on social media and book specific platforms, and to know what’s being said about a book, and then use that metadata as an opportunity for discovery.
    • The key is complete, relevant, and consistent metadata, including cover images, and enhanced with analytics and SEO.
Making metadata effective

There are four different kinds of metadata (bibliographic, commercial, transactional, and merchandising), and these come from many different sources. In order to make each of these effective in their specific role, we need to be using them as keys for discovery.

  • ISBN numbers are prioritized by Google. Similarly the soon to be adopted ISTC and ISNI numbers will also be given authority.
  • Search algorithms also prioritize BIC and BISAC categories, as well as Amazon keywords/categories. It is important here to use 3-5 of these keywords, in order of relevance/importance for the best results.
  • SEO and  Adwords Keywords tools are incredibly useful.
  • Price changes are frequent and incredibly important. Make sure that these updates are happening timeously.
  • It is also important to describe your book’s relationship to other books, films, comparative works, other formats (and use the opportunity to highlight why yours is better).
  • Have a metadata repository where teams creating each of the different kinds of metadata listed above can edit and adapt the metadata so that you maintain a relevant and up to date record.
What can Paperight do with this?
  • As we grow, we need to make sure that metadata updates of existing content is occurring within 2-5 days of receiving updated data from the publisher.
  • We need to communicate clearly with publishers so that they can provide us with data in a format which is appropriate for Paperight. We try to make it simpler for them, but this makes it time-consuming for us and means that metadata updates take far too long.
  • Paperight staff book reviews could be added to the metadata for a book. The more of the books we read ourselves, the better our descriptive metadata will be.
  • Metadata descriptions need to be compiled from a variety of sources, and honed carefully (i.e: complete, relevant, and consistent metadata, including cover images, and enhanced with analytics and SEO).
  • ISBN, ISTC, and ISNI numbers, as well as BIC and BISAC categories should be prioritized. Keywords describing the book should be provided in order of relevance or importance.
  • “Related titles” should be provided, and connections between content items made.
  • Metadata repository.

Paperight – Publishers Discussions

[Redacted because this section contains others’ confidential business information]

Other potential leads:

  • US Embassy – See conversations with Matthew Utterback, he mentioned that they could be a good lead Africa as they do not currently have a strong distribution network for that material.
  • Unisa Press – Attempted to set a meeting with them, but was unable to connect due to conflicting schedules. I did however get the contact details for Elna Harmse (Director), and Andrew Joseph (Managing Editor: Journals), which we can use to set up a meeting to pitch Paperight in the future.
  • Higher Education Press – These are publishers of Chinese-language educational materials.  I was around when Snapplify chatted to them about creating Snapplify apps for their material. She then asked them if they also do “print-on-demand” solutions, at which point I jumped in and said that Paperight did. I have her contact details, and will send additional information regarding Paperight.

Feedback/Take-aways:

  • Having a stall ties you down as one team member has to constantly stay there. It also does not necessarily provide a strong ROI, as the people who we want to talk to are not usually going to be the ones walking up to stands.
  • Obviously, having more than one team member working the floor allows you to cover much much more ground – especially when these efforts are targeted and coordinated. The Snapplify team was able to generate 5x the leads that I was.
  • It is important to have a ‘hit list’ of publishers/people that you want to target, so you know who your big fish are. I did this to some extent, but could have done it better. I think this task is simpler when you have a clear idea of what the fair looks like, and who will be there, as well as a focused strategy around the leads you want to generate and nurture. This is something that I will work on for next year/time.
  • Info sheets would be useful to leave with publishers who you are talking to for the first time. A number of people actually asked me if I had an info sheet for them, especially towards the end when everything is mixing together in your brain, or when the decision makers have left and the minions cannot convey the ideas properly.

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