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Publishers’ Forum 2016

Topics 2016

How the business of books is expanding, converging and fragmenting – all at the same time

The big digital storm seems to have passed for the moment, without leaving devastation in its wake. E-book sales in Europe have stalled at a low level, and their growth has plateaued in English.

In fact, the opposite is true.

The predominant market leaders are putting an ever bigger footprint onto the entire book business. As print is shrinking at the same time, and more readers are focusing on just a few bestsellers. Industry consolidation, the expansion of the value chain, and the optimization of the workflow define the agenda for the strongest players. At the same time, a remarkable number of new companies have been launched recently.

Meanwhile, for readers –consumers –, looking at books is hardly any different from embracing any other content, media or format. They wouldn’t scorn a book (on paper or on a screen) in favor of a game, or a video, or time spent on social media; this mobile audience moves seamlessly from one to the other in a confident manner.

The speed of the transformation of the book business has only accelerated, even if in a more matter-of-fact way.

The Publishers’ Forum 2016 will explore the extended value chain and the ever more complex processes, both from a strategic and a how-to-implement perspective.

Topics and questions addressed will include:

  • The new complexity: core business versus exploration
    Centralize or diversify? Concentrate on core business or invest in new channels, platforms, media formats? Target and leverage existing audiences or expand? Focus on ever riskier blockbusters or bet on managing more complexity, on more granular content exploitation and an extended value chain?
    In view of limited resources, both financial and personnel, ever shorter planning horizons and agile management approaches, striking a balance between such opposites is the key to the survival, and success, of the organization.
  • New thinking, new practices: close-ups of new actors and concepts in publishing business
    Multiple new ventures are being founded. But also, insights from other industries are more and more relevanz for publishers. Start-ups and new entrepreneurs have distinctively different approaches to publishing. And even within publishing, lessons can be learned and shared between sectors.
    What are the key characteristics of new concepts, and what is setting them apart? How can a reality check for innovative approaches be performed? A structured overview of current cutting-edge operations will be provided, plus a catalogue of key questions to tackle in relating to new thinking and new challengers.
  • Managing contradictory requirements with IT: extending the value chain and organizing complex processes
    Complex, and even contradictory, requirements challenge the decision making process in companies at multiple levels. Traditional key business routines have different priorities than the extension of the value chain to gain new – often digital – ground, with both innovative products and services.
    Managing these expanding complexities – as well as handling multiple formats and channels – requires an integration aided by costly and demanding new technologies. This transformation will only be beneficial if the organization can attract – and further develop – talents that are fit to build bridges between agile innovation and the existing organization. This requires new competences, new forms of collaboration, and new concepts. Good choices of technology and of personnel are often the decisive keys to sustainable success.
  • Thinking beyond the page: mobile, cross-media, and social media-driven
    “The smartphone is the new sun, and everything else orbits around it”, says Silicon Valley analyst Ben Evans. For publishers, this does not necessarily mean that readers in Europe will opt for the tiny screen when reading a big novel (which they absolutely do in Asia). But users will probably learn about the book from their friends via social media (rather than traditional media), which they certainly check on their phones; and they may order it from their phones, even in print, with other content, alongside totally unrelated purchases.
    Mobile changes everything in so far as new companies and platforms, such as Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Google (through Android) and Apple (through the iPhone and iTunes), own the new ecosystems of digital discourse.
    What is the impact on the business of books, and what could be a meaningful response?

The Publishers’ Forum on April 28 & 29, 2016, will sharpen the profile of its offer in several ways:

  • A good balance between global perspectives and local practices:
    A thorough look at the German and continental European markets will be complemented by truly international perspectives, with a mix of outstanding and original speakers (in an English and a parallel German language track);
  • Two conference days, one focusing on strategic concepts, the other gathering attendees around the work bench:
    Thursday’s bold strategic visions will be grounded in hands-on workshops on Friday, looking at the daily business of implementing change, and how the operating teams must embrace and implement innovation;
  • A unique mix of speakers:
    Bringing in speakers from both the book business and other relevant industries, and turning workshops into real hands-on discussions about valuable propositions, and the practical concerns of conference guests;
  • A new conference venue, dbb forum Berlin:
    At the core of the bustling city, in busy Friedrichstrasse, with hotels of diverse categories in walking distance. The exciting venue – with state-of-the-art conference technology – will provide a unique conference experience;
  • It’s all about the conversation:
    Facilitating and better leveraging the direct and personal exchanges between speakers and attendees.

The ambition and goal of the Publishers’ Forum 2016 is to clearly increase the benefits for all who attend, during the sessions and in the informal conversations over coffee, by opening horizons and minds, while providing the tools for practical implementation; and by framing topics and debates in ways that are relevant to the decision makers and their valuable staff across the ranks.