What was your primary objective for attending IBPA Publishing University?
Richard T. Williams, Director, Publisher Development, IPG: This was my 9th year attending the show; normally I participate on behalf of Small Press United, because it’s a small press show with a wide variety of publishers and self-published authors, many of whom are looking at distribution options (of which there aren’t many left).
Kelly Peterson, Client Services Director, INscribe Digital: I really wanted to attend IBPA to meet with Elizabeth Turnbull, a member of IBPA’s board, and to lead the panel “What Makes Customers Click to Buy.” So many publishers believe that sales are up to the retailers; really, it’s largely in the publisher’s control. We believe in giving publishers the tools they need to turn their own books into strong sellers.
Richard: IBPA has been slowly changing its focus as the industry has changed, and now they’re concentrating on a very specific and growing vein of self-publishers that is all but ignored by the traditional book trade. Each year they seem to expand their demographics and I’ve seen a wider range of new publishers from all walks of life.
Kelly: This was the first time I attended IBPA, but I have to say that I was impressed by the team. Angela Bole is organized, and despite her protestation that she is an introvert, she was a rock star presenter.
What was the program’s biggest success, in your opinion?
Richard: The show instills a very strong sense of community and shared knowledge in a varied group of people. Publishers go in feeling like they’re isolated and come away feeling like a part of something larger. It’s still not yet strongly connected to the traditional trade, but IPG serves its role well as one of the few companies willing to connect.
Kelly: I also loved doing the “Ask the Experts” program; because they asked what areas you like to discuss. I got a chance to discuss some topics I hadn’t since my last role (as eBook Manager for Borders)! That was a treat.
What would you want to see differently next year, either on the part of IPG/INscribe or of IBPA?
Richard: IPG either needs to develop a way to accommodate hybrid (this year’s buzzword) publishing models or make a decision to become a distribution program specific to the self-publishing tier and the very specific audience that it reaches, which is not the traditional trade.
Kelly: I would love to be a part of IBPA even earlier next year. They have a vibrant community, and I look forward to being a part of it. I’d love to see even more attention to IPG/INscribe…after all, they are comprised of independent publishers, and that’s right in our name!
What was your main takeaway?
Richard: The show is a vital resource for publishers who are just getting started or for self-publishers wanting to know what they must do to cross the bridge into the traditional side of the industry. It is not a must-attend show for established publishers who have already made inroads into the trade.
Kelly: There is an interesting new market of small publishers coming up: they are thematically tight and highly motivated, and are looking to brand their own content. They are really filling the niche marketplaces, and I can’t wait to get to know all of them!