When we stopped by the publishing industry trade show Book Expo America midday on Wednesday, the “Digital Discovery Zone” was essentially deserted, except for the people attempting to sell enterprise software solutions from small booths. Amazon’s editorial arm had a serious footprint and all the galleys you could carry, but the end result wasn’t that much more impressive than, say, the Scientologists’ presence. Plus, it was off center, out of the way of the big boys. Rival ebook retailer Kobo (now owned by Rakuten) had an objectively better location, square across from Random House, one of the busiest booths.
The Big Six publishers–Random, Hachette, Simon and Schuster, Penguin, HarperCollins, and Macmillan–were still the center of gravity, their booths the most crowded. They had advance copies everyone wanted and they had the snazzy tote bags. Hachette even brought beer and cake.
Given the slowly stabilizing state of digital publishing, we were intrigued to check out the demos staged yesterday by the researchers at the Book Industry Study Group. The guest list was largely potential buyers — publishers with managerial titles and the occasional librarian. The seventeen demos were a mixed bag, ranging from the most wonky of enterprise solutions to the downright consumer facing, but we did notice that book tech doesn’t seem to have escaped the cloud fad.