9 Publishers’ Forum, Berlin, 2012, revisited

May 2011

I attended the recent Publishers’ Forum in Berlin for the first time this year.

Axica conference centre interior, designed by Frank Gehry

Axica conference and convention center interior, designed by Frank Gehry

I was impressed with how the presentations intelligently intersected in interesting and relevant ways. The sense at the end of the two days was of a dynamic network of intelligent content, created by people with vision and energy.

Helmut von Berg of Klopotek was an indefatigable host and organiser and was as passionate about the subject as any of the speakers. It is commitment of this sort that will lead the way.

Brian O’Leary’s keynote address ‘Context First Revisited’ was as relevant today as when he first presented it in 2010, although now the word ‘container’ is simply a term we all use when talking about books. That his terminology has become part of the currency of digital publishing demonstrates how important his insights were and still are for us all.

All the sessions I attended were worthwhile and had something to offer. (As an English speaker, the German sessions were not an option, but looked very good too.) One of the English sessions that made a particular impression on me was that by Gregor Wolf and Christian Kohl, ‘Integrating deGruyter.com e-commerce with the back office software’. This is a side of publishing that most prefer not to think about; social media for instance is so much more exciting to talk about (and yes, as important). But it is precisely this kind of work behind the scenes that is crucial to the success of digital publishing. The presentation was focused, to the point, and the system they described seemed deceptively simple: a mark of true elegance, thorough analysis and hard work.

I want to thank my co-presenters, Ingrid Goldstein, and Brian O’Leary, who are both a joy to work with. I was privileged to have had this opportunity to present with them.

This conference gave me renewed confidence in the future of ‘book’ publishing, whatever the ‘book’ may look like.

Note: This post also appears on the Forum website.

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