Bookish Guide to SXSW

In Hannah's Perspective by Hannah Johnson

SXSW 2010

By Hannah Johnson

I love to recount the story of how Penguin tried to host a panel at the 2009 South by Southwest Interactive conference (SXSW) and how the audience ate the panelists alive with snark via Twitter and accusations about unfair gatekeeping practices (read about it here, here and here). Afterwards, one of the panelists explained the audience-speaker clash by saying: that was unfair! We couldn’t defend ourselves against the Twitter onslaught because we didn’t even know what Twitter was!

My fellow book people, I think we can represent a little better this year, don’t you? Download a Twitter app to your phone, put on your coolest t-shirt, and brush up on some social media vocab.

SXSW might be another annoying future-of-the-world conference with high-schoolish cliques of ueber-cool digerati trying to impress each other with their Ray Bans and their MacBooks, or it might be a place where people get together and create something that will change your life and business very soon. Mostly likely, SXSW is a little of both.

Here are a few must-see panels in 2010 (if you aren’t attending, videos will be made available online):

More tips for SXSW attendees:

  • The Twitter hashtag for each panel and session can be found at the bottom of the panel description online. Add your snark to the stream!
  • It might not be as warm as you want it to be in Austin.
  • Visit the South By Bookstore hosted by Barnes & Noble to find out just how many of these speakers and panelists still make their money from traditional publishing (despite what they may be saying about us!)
  • Absolutely do not leave Austin without eating at the Salt Lick. Prepare yourself for a BBQ overload at this sprawling restaurant just outside of town.
About the Author

Hannah Johnson


Hannah Johnson is the publisher of international book industry magazine Publishing Perspectives, which provides daily information and news about book markets around the world. In addition to building partnerships with international cultural and trade organizations, she works with the Frankfurt Book Fair to organize and support a number of its overseas initiatives. Hannah has also worked as the managing editor for an online media company, The Hooch Life, focused on craft distillers and cocktail experts. Prior to that, she worked as a project manager for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s New York office, managing various business and marketing activities.