Publishers and technology developers sounded the same note over and over again, pointing out that the Internet has given them unprecedented access to consumer feedback, and that the way to grow the e-book market is to listen to what readers are saying.
While all the speakers seemed to agree that the book business has a long way to go before readers are as familiar and comfortable with digital books as they are with paper books, it was also clear that publishers see rapid growth in the digital book market and that the format is becoming an increasingly important part of their business.
"You have to get out there and experiment" noted Malle Vallik, director of Digital Content and Interactivity at Harlequin, and arguably one of the most innovative players in digital content and publishing. I have seen Malle present a few times now and always walk away with a new idea and wondering why "more publishers and stores don't do things that way." I hope to incorporate some of the ideas I have learned from her in one of the new big initiatives we have planned for this year at NACS.
To the point though -- there seems to be growing agreement that digital's time is coming. This means stores (and publishers) alike must begin, continue, and expand our experimentation with digital AND listen to our customers.