Frankfurt 2009 & the rise of Digital

I’ve had a crazy old time since I returned home from the Frankfurt Book Fair last week so this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and write a little about my time there, and an interesting time it was.

I again had the pleasure of having lunch with IDPF Executive Director, Michael Smith. There was no real agenda, it was just a chance for us to have a good chin-wag about ePub, how things are moving for the format and such other things. This year the IDPF held three sessions but due to my day job duties in London I only managed to attend one of his sessions; missing what I’m sure was an extremely interesting ‘EPUB Update and Tweaks and Tricks for EPUB on Devices’ session presented by Keith Fahlgren from O’Reilly – I’m wholey dissapointed about that.

Still, I did manage to attend the ‘New and Updated eBook Reading Devices’ which was rather interesting.

For this session there were four speakers; Michaël Dahan (Bookeen), Neelan Choksi (Lexcycle Stanza), Willem Endhoven (iRex Technologies) and finally Richard Siegersma (ECO Reader). All the speakers had some interesting things to say but a couple of points stuck out.

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W.H.Smith’s are now selling ePub eBooks!

During the Digital Lunch seminar at this years Frankfurt Book Fair, Michael Vantusko from Overdrive commented that W.H.Smith was one of their eBook customers. As I was updating the homepage I thought I’d check them out to see if they actually have them online yet. I don’t know the date W.H.Smith went live with their ePub books but they currently have almost 6,500 ePub titles.

As Overdrive also distribute to Waterstones I would imagine that the W.H.Smith eBook collection will grow quite quickly. It’s great to see more stores offering ePub formatted books to the consumers – perhaps this extra competition will result in lower eBook prices sooner rather than later.

There is however quite some way to go before the number of ePub titles reaches the overall eBook numbers. Here’s a quick breakdown of the current eBook titles in the W.H.Smith eBook store;

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epubBooks at Frankfurt Book Fair 2008

I was very lucky this year to be able to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair. As it was only going to be a one day affair for me I choose Thursday, the day of the Digital Lunch: Digital Publishing and the EPUB Standard’ seminar.

Before the session got under way I had a quick look around the ‘Digital Market Place’ Hall and came across the iRex Digital Reader stand where they were showing off their DR1000 model. Along with having a basic reader they also have two models with a Wacom touch screen and one of those with Wi-Fi. All models have a 10.2 inch display (1024×1280 pixels) – so no need to go zooming in on your PDF files now. This looks a great piece of equipment. After checking out the iRex stand I then made my way down to the IDPF session.

There were four speakers at the Digital Lunch, Michael Smith (IDPF Executive Director), Michael Vantusko (Overdrive – unfortunately Steve Potash could not make it), Fionnuala Duggan (Random House Digital Group UK) and Robert Nell (Sony Reader).

Mike Smith got things started with an outline of the IDPF and the ePub format. He discussed the amazing sales figures we’ve been seeing in the eBook world and the uptake of the ePub standard from publishers and conversion houses.

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Digital Lunch: IDPF at Frankfurt 2008

Next Monday will mark the start of the 2008 Frankfurt Book Fair. The IDPF will of course be attending, and also presenting a session entitled; Digital Lunch: Digital Publishing and the EPUB Standard.

Mike Smith (IDPF Executive Director), Steve Potash (Overdrive), Fionnuala Duggan (Random House Digital Group UK) and Robert Nell (Sony Reader) will be talking about the “effects on Publishers, Channels and Devices – Market Experience with the Sony Reader and other Software using EPUB”. eBooks is currently the fastest growing segment in the publishing industry and with sites such as delivering over 2,000,000 titles in the last few months alone, the ePub book format is set to dominate the eBook world.

If you’re going to be at the Frankfurt Book Fair then I recommend attending this session. This will be taking place at 12:00 o’clock on the Thursday (16th October) in Hall 4C, Alliance Room.