Get Going With Digital Content at BEA

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As part of ABA's Day of Education, at the Javits Convention Center on Thursday, May 28, in Room 1E12 in the Javits Center from 1:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m., a panel of e-content experts will discuss trends in digital content, including e-books and audio books, and their impact on independent bookstores in "Going Digital: An Industry Discussion on Selling E-Content."

ABA Chief Program Officer Len Vlahos will moderate a discussion with panelists Mark Nelson, digital content strategist, National Association of College Stores (NACS); Jenn Northington, events and marketing manager, The King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah; and Andrew Savikas, vice president of digital initiatives, O'Reilly Media.

Along with serving as the digital content strategist at NACS, Nelson is vice president for strategy and development for NACS Media Solutions. He recently completed a five-year term as a research fellow for the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research, assisting with studies and publications on several topics related to technology in higher education.

Nelson will discuss publishing industry shake-ups and how indie booksellers can take advantage of them. "There are some commonalities that we can observe that may help the independent stores better understand and navigate the shifting landscape," he said. The commonalties he'll be covering on the panel include staying tech current, partnering with other organizations, and innovating productively. Nelson said, "Innovation in response to radical change and emerging technology is a common theme for me. Right now there is a strong message to be given about market share over margin, and the evolving nature of our competitive landscape."

Northington, who started her career in books after college "because it sounded like more fun than grad school" worked for Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona, and is currently managing events and marketing at The King's English. She is also the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association representative for the Emerging Leaders Council. She said one focus for her will be identifying possible relationships between physical bookstores and digital content.

"There's a lot of spaghetti being thrown at the wall right now as far as what form digital content is taking and how you get it, and one thing I'm particularly interested in is content bundling," Northington said. "I also am intrigued by Stephanie Anderson's [of WORD bookstore in Brooklyn] notion of stories versus books and booksellers' role as curators of those stories, as well as the role of geographic community in the digital age."

Andrew Savikas, the vice president O'Reilly Media, has worked on several key publishing technology initiatives at O'Reilly, including the design and deployment of an open-standards-based XML content distribution platform. Savikas is also an advisor to Safari Books Online, O'Reilly's joint venture with Pearson Technology Group.

Savikas will be pointing to data gathered at O'Reilly to underscore where digital content is heading, including that O'Reilly Media now sells more digital books than print books on their website. He'll also talk about how "readers value a choice of multiple DRM-free formats for ebooks" and that while he notes that e-reader devices are important, he believes that "the real opportunity for digital books and reading is on mobile phones." --Karen Schechner