By Susan Danziger, CEO of DailyLit.com and Founder of The Publishing Point
I realized several years ago that I lived in two worlds. As the founder of DailyLit, I met with cutting-edge entrepreneurs (such as the founders of Twitter and Foursquare) who were pursuing dreams that others thought crazy. And then there was the other world of established executives at large publishing houses who seemed unwilling to challenge the status quo and uninterested in the transformations made possible by technology. I clearly remember a conversation with one senior executive who proudly stated: “We don’t like to be the first, and we don’t like to be the last.”
To be fair, within each publishing house were pockets of people excited about the digital future and eager to learn more. I frequently heard stories from those who were discouraged by their bosses from engaging in social media or prevented from experimenting with new initiatives.
I realized that if I could somehow bridge those two worlds, it would inspire members of the publishing community to explore the amazing opportunities offered by the digital world and (not so selflessly) help my mission at DailyLit to work with people excited about the future of publishing.
So I set up The Publishing Point to introduce cutting edge thinkers and entrepreneurs to the publishing industry, and highlight the work of publishing innovators and leaders. Since then The Publishing Point has hosted live talks with Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter; Naveen Selvadurai, the co-founder of Foursquare; David Karp, the founder of Tumblr; and Scott Heiferman, the founder of Meetup, each of whom revealed secrets behind their success and opened discussions as to how publishers could work with them. We’ve also had inspiring authors such as Seth Godin who made a passionate plea to publishing employees to take more risks.
And we’ve organized a CEO series that has included live interviews with John Sargent, the CEO of Macmillan; Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media; and Carolyn Reidy, the CEO of Simon & Schuster. In a relaxed setting, people in publishing, including many at the beginning of their careers, get to hear first hand from the industry’s powerhouses. (Note: David Young, the CEO of Hachette, will be the next featured CEO in this series, and will be interviewed in May.)
The feedback from those attending The Publishing Point sessions (all of which have been free to attend) has been extraordinarily positive. Speakers have been called “inspirational”, “energizing” and “frank, open and forward-thinking”. What has excited me most has been the new ideas that have been sparked for my own business by listening to these exceptional individuals. And through Publishing Point I’ve been fortunate to meet with the most engaged members of the publishing community who share a common enthusiasm and optimism for the future of the book industry.
At the London Book Fair, I’m thrilled to present the first international Publishing Point event: “The Great Debate: Will Publishers Soon Be Irrelevant?”.
Bestselling author and provocateur Cory Doctorow, together with publisher and digital strategist James Bridle, will argue for the proposition; and Bloomsbury executive director Richard Charkin and Andrew Franklin, CEO of Profile Books, will argue against the proposition. The debate will be moderated by Michael Healy, the Executive Director of the Book Rights Registry. Expect it to be a lively event, with ballots being taken both before and after the debate –- and a winner will be announced.
Videos of previous Publishing Point talks have been posted at www.publishingpoint.com.