We’ve only been Austin a few hours and we’ve already learned two things: those in the know call this event “South By,” and you really do need to show up early for panels. At “South By” you can’t sneak into a panel late and linger in the back chair-less. Here they apparently abide by fire safety regulations and go with a policy we’ve only seen enforced at clubs and bars–one in, one out. So, if you’re in Austin, be sure to show up early.
We’ve really just dipped into the programming here, but already we’ve had lots of conversations about gaming, apps, and transmedia. We’re circling back to questions about how publishers, authors, and agents should be thinking about content, and wondering whether those in the book business should just think beyond the book–i.e., what else is the story besides a book?–but instead of the book. We’ve asked this question before, but it bears repeating and will clearly be a theme for all book publishing folks at SXSW: should publishers and authors be getting into the business of creating things other than books, that may start from the seed of a story?
We just met with Pawan Deshande, who runs a company called HiveFire (who’ll be on a panel here called Brave New World: Debating Brands’ Role as Publishers), and discussed some of the things his company does, namely create software that allows companies and individuals to better curate content. The conversation led us to discussions about publishers creating fan sites around their content areas, which is something we’ve seen with imprints like Tor and the recently launched Mulholland Books. With software like HiveFire’s, that allows someone overseeing a content site to more easily pull in content (and push it out with SEO help and connections to social networking sites), is it more feasible that a single staffer at an imprint can create a fan site dedicated to the topic that that imprint covers? And, really, why shouldn’t every imprint have a fan site, instead of a page on an overarching corporate website?
These are some early thoughts from SXSW. We’re heading to PubCamp shortly and will come back with more on that.