Yesterday in New York, the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) hosted its tenth annual "Making Information Pay" meeting. The franchise has expanded in recent years to include a parallel higher-education event that takes place in February, allowing much of yesterday's discussion to focus on trade publishing in the U.S. market.
Speakers included: Hilary Mason, chief scientist at bit.ly; Ashleigh Gardner, recently named head of content at Toronto-based Wattpad; and Ken Michaels, President & COO with Hachette Book Group (and chair of the BISG board).
Before Michaels provided what he described as "a vision for our collective future", Ingram's Phil Olilla moderated a panel with Rachel Chou (Open Road), Andrew Savikas (Safari Books Online), Julia Cobletz (NOOK Press) and Dan Weiss (St. Martin's Press). Collectively, they addressed "managing the migration from P to E, E only and E to P." By the end of the panel, it felt as if the variety of things that work, don't work and might work had multiplied by a factor of four.
The half-day meeting also included a first look at some data extracted from the 2013 edition of BookStats, the joint data-tracking service offered by BISG and the Association of American Publishers. The top-line take-aways: trade sales revenues had increased and the rate of growth in eBook sales had slowed.
Generally, the Bookstats information presented by Outsell's Ned May was not rich enough to draw meaningful conclusions from the disclosed data points. To an extent, this is understandable: BISG, AAP and Bowker need interested parties to buy the full report and/or access to the database, or the service won't persist.
That said, I hankered for a three-year trend, at least, for major categories, formats and channels. As Mason illustrated in her opening keynote, context plays a key role in understanding data. Trends in sales, unit sales and unit prices are inter-related considerations. Presenting a small number of data points from just one or two areas limits understanding.
The new Bookstats information (through 2012) will be published later this month. When it is made available, I'll look at the updates and try to post some additional analysis.
During the meeting, BISG executive director Len Vlahos recognized the many contributions of outgoing deputy executive director Angela Bole, who joined the organization in 2005. Bole has been named director of the Independent Book Publishers Association, a role she will take up next month. As Vlahos noted, Bole has been a part of almost every BISG event, publication and report released in the last eight years. She'll be missed at BISG, though it's fortunate to have her stay in the book association family.
A bit of disclosure: I've done work for BISG, researching and writing a 2012 report on the creation, management and modification of metadata in the book industry supply chain. Both Ken Michaels and Ashleigh Gardner (then with eBook retailer Kobo) participated in that study. Len Vlahos and Angela Bole oversaw the work. Oh, and I use bit.ly to shorten links to posts like this one, though I've never talked to Hilary Mason about that.