Book Publishing Goes South. By Southwest.

Those conversant with this site may recall the drama of That Panel at SXSW Interactive wherein a small unsuspecting group of folks from publishing ran into a brick wall of an industry reality check. Part of the larger cultural problem this revealed is that few industry insiders had ever attended the damn conference.

Based on the very healthy submission of panel proposals surrounding the topic of books, publishing, and whither both, I’m feeling rather optimistic that we might turning the corner in terms of participation. (And, as Kirk Biglione observed on PubCall last night, perhaps books/narrative might even get a little informal subtrack within the conference one of these years!)

Kassia Kroszer of Booksquare and Quartet Press has again done us all sterling service by aggregating all the related panel proposals she could find, so that you, Dear Reader, can go review them and vote for (or against) them. As I’m involved with a couple, described below, I rather hope you’ll vote for them of course but more important is that you go vote–effectively these panelists are this industry’s representatives and you should participate in deciding who represents us at SXSW!

The arty one is The Novel in 2050 with me and Joanne McNeil of The Tomorrow Museum and a couple more folks to be named later…The spiel is “Research shows reading a book for as little as six minutes may cut stress levels in half. But have Twitter-length attention spans decreased demand for novels? What is the future of the ‘non-networked’ book? This panel will debate the relevance of novels in a networked world.”

Questions to be asked include:
Will novels exist in 2050? What will they look like?
Have modern Twitter-length attention spans decreased interest in novels?
How might crowdsourcing and collaboration contribute to the creation of a novel?
What are some recent examples of networked books?
Are young people reading novels?
Does a novel communicate differently on a Kindle, iPhone, or other electronic device?
Is the Internet more of a threat to publishing than film or television were in the 20th century?
Why is technology mostly absent in the plots of contemporary novels?
How might novels use games and cross-platform storytelling?
What about novels should be preserved? What needs to change?

The businessy one is A Brave New Future for Book Publishing with me, Kevin Smokler of, Jared Friedman, Founder of Scribd, Kassia Kroszer herself, Jeff Seroy, SVP, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, and Debbie Stier, Associate Publisher, Harper Studio. This spiel is: Call SXSW 2009’s infamous “New Think for Old Publishers” (aka “Geeks School New York”) a missed opportunity. How did book publishing become the last media industry to embrace digital and how will this change? New publishing models, strategy and a brave future for books and we who love them. And questions ot be asked include:
How is the traditional book publishing model broken?
How did book publishing arrive at this point in its history?
What new book publishing models are already out in world?
How successful are they (Scribd, Book Oven, Stanza) thus far?
In what ways have traditional publishers embraced/made use of new publishing and marketing models?
How will publishing collaborate with other cultural industries (Film, Music, Video Games, Online Entertainment) going forward?
How has the role of the author changed and how will it continue to?
How will books be sold in the future and what will this portend for booksellers?
How will the publishing recruit young talent going forward?
What will a book publisher have to look like in 10/20 years to survive?

And, if I may recommend a third, my wife has a proposal! How I Learned To Love the DMCA. She’s an intellectual property lawyer and is offering to update us all on the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, a piece of legislation which appears to be turning out to be much more helpful to online free speech that had initially be feared. Or, as she put’s it: “The DMCA strikes fear in the collective heart of the Neterati. But the way courts have interpreted the DMCA has been, in many ways, friendly to expression on the Web — dancing babies have prevailed over capricious takedown notices, and “circumvention” has been narrowly construed. This presentation will review recent case law and its implications for online speech and fair use.” Questions to be discussed include: What is the DMCA?
How did the DMCA alter the Copyright Act?
What are the DMCA “Safe Harbors”?
How does the DMCA protect content owners?
How does the DMCA recognize fair use?
What is the procedure under the DMCA for objecting to the use of content online?
How does one respond to a DMCA objection?
What are the key cases that have interpreted the DMCA?
Is the DMCA the enemy of free speech on the Web?
How might courts construe the DMCA to actually protect speech on the Web?