Today started with a breakfast session where Verso presented their 2009 Survey of Book-Buying Behaviour. This was a fascinating presentation. The survey results were presented by Jack McKeown who is the Director of Business Development for Verso Digital.
One of the interesting things to come out of the survey was that most readers prefer to shop in store however the sales figures reflect that they are actually buying online. This is a huge opportunity because we have customers who want and prefer to shop with us but for one reason or another shop online instead. The other interesting result from the survey was that 49% of people said they were not going to buy an eReader device in the next 6-12 months. This seems to suggest a fast, early adoption then a plateau. Also 27% said eBooks should be $9.99 while 37% didn’t know what an eBook should be sold for. This seemed to indicate that the Apple model of $14.99 might find traction. The last point Jack made was about piracy. Book Piracy can either be viewed as a threat and publishers can try to stamp down on it (which didn’t work in the long term for the music industry) or piracy can be seen as an opportunity to bring a reader back into the ‘legal’ fold. But have a look through the survey. Even though it was about US readers there is a tonne of relevant information for the Australian market.
For the second session of the day I attended eBooks 101: A Discussion. This was moderated by Len Vlahos (COO of ABA) and Paige Poe (ABA Marketing Manager). This was a highly educational session. Some of the key points made were that we have to face the fact that there a people who want to read in a digital format. We as booksellers can either choose to help them find the book they want or not. With eBooks estimated to be worth 10% of the market, booksellers either need to capture their existing marketshare of this new market or replace the 10% that eBooks are taking over.
The third session today was the first half of Rep Picks Speed Dating held over lunch (part two will over tomorrow’s breakfast). The 500 Wi5 delegates were all allocated table numbers and there were between 6-10 booksellers at each table with an empty space at each table. Sales Reps from around the country then had 15 minutes to present titles to the table. While the session went for over two hours (and I was getting pretty tired towards the end) this concept was one of the best sales conference sessions I have ever attended. Personally I loathe conferences where I have to sit for 30-60 minutes while someone reads word-for-word off a PowerPoint presentation. The speed dating played to the reps’ strengths and I came out with a list of books I wanted to read. Even better at the conclusion of the session the ‘galley’ room was opened and most of the books that we had just heard about were piled high on tables for us to take. And tonight we get to meet 40 of the authors too!
My last session for the day was looking at social media. Yelp is the next big thing in social media. It is bigger than the yellow pages in New York and the only place to go to find a restaurant recommendation. It is not currently outside the US but when it comes to Australia jump on! This was another highly informative session and soon as I have finished this I must tinker with my facebook page, Pages & Pages fan page and my twitter account!
I can’t wait for tomorrow!