We interviewed Michel Lafrance, the founder and managing director of The Owl Field, a 3D audio storytelling production company. His work received the bronze award for The Bookseller FutureBook BookTech Company of the Year 2015. Here we speak to him about the beginnings of his company, the source of The Owl Field’s content and which genre lends itself particularly well to a 3D audio experience.
We spoke to Guy Vincent, founder of crowd-publishing startup Publishizer. Publishizer allows authors to gather pre-orders for their books in order to be matched with the publisher or publishing service providers that are best for them. Guy elaborated on the challenging initial period of setting up his business, the future of publishing and why we should be looking to data for our answers.
Just over three years ago, whitefox was approached by one of the larger on-line freelance marketplaces (they had raised $ millions) to see if we’d be interested in helping them curate the part of their platform that related to publishing. I am assuming at the time a number of requests went out to different sectors. It didn’t happen. We said no. I’ve no idea if anyone said yes. But it got us thinking at the time about the old adage, how does the guy who drives the snow plough get to work in the morning? Or more accurately, who is curating the curators?
This year, whitefox will celebrate four years of trying to create a new business model within the world of publishing. Many of the conversations we were having back in late 2011 and early 2012 which must have seemed somewhat outlandish or unnecessary to some people are now taken for granted. No one now blinks at the talk of more outsourcing, the need to bring down fixed-costs, the drive for greater trust, transparency and quality, vetted services within self-publishing. It is accepted that freelance professionals will play an increasingly important role operating in the space between writers and readers.
In our experience, there are plenty of pure play tech companies merely succeeding in negotiating investment bingo ( if you include the magic words mobile / crowd-funding / marketplace / freemium / data / platform in your ten slide deck ) and lots of seemingly analogue 20th century businesses expanding rapidly, but who may have taken five or more years to prove their particular concept by doing good, recommendable work and start making profits.
Andri Nel runs a digital publishing company called Digi-Taal and is completing her MA in Digital Publishing. Before coming to the UK she completed her undergraduate and honours degrees in Publishing at the University of Pretoria in South Africa and worked on numerous digital publishing projects with both authors and publishers. She is driven by a passion for publishing and the process behind creating books.
We asked Emma Barnes, Founder & CEO of Bibliocloud and MD of Snowbooks, some questions on Bibliocloud, programming and entrepreneurship in publishing.
When you stop working for a large corporate and start rubbing shoulders with entrepreneurs and VCs, and talk about launching your own venture, part of you thinks how institutionalised your business brain must appear, how risk averse your attitude compared to the serial gamblers, because you have to be something of a driven maverick to make and lose millions. But you forget at your peril that in any sector, some experience and knowledge of what might stand a chance of working is at least useful. Which is why we cheered when Dan Kieran from Unbound said last year in an interview “ Publishing is really hard…there isn’t a technical thing we’ve all forgotten.”
I wasn’t able to get to Contec at the Frankfurt Book Fair this year, so I missed the discussion Where Would You Place Your Bet, looking into a crystal ball about the future of publishing. But I’ve read the Schilling report, created after consultations with publishers around the world which asked the question “How would they go about it if they had to start all over?”