FutureBook17 and Global Kids Connect

Two excellent conferences took place recently, one in London and one in NYC.

FUTUREBOOK 2017: Don’t Delegate the Future

FutureBook2017, now coming up to its tenth year, took place on December 1st in East London, and was attended by some 600 publishers, vendors and tech firms from the UK, EU and US.  The conference had four tracks, two on publishing and technology, one on audiobooks, and another on EdTech, causing some consternation among attendees as to which to choose.  Thankfully a storm of tweets (#FutureBook17) and articles by sponsors like Frankfurt Book Fair’s Publishing Perspectives helped them and others find out what’s happening, and will happen, in publishing and media.  Though there were traditional publishers and  well-known industry figures – like Bonnier’s iconoclastic Richard Johnson, HarperCollinsChantal Restivo-Alessi and Canongate’s Jamie Byng –  on the dais, startups, EdTech companies, agents and platforms like Audible and Kobo were also represented.  The mood of the day was upbeat, but that didn’t stop a number of speakers like Richard Johnson and Awesome Media’s Jeff Norton from exhorting publishers to re-examine traditional business models and attitudes.

The day-long conference ended with awards being given out in nine categories;

FutureBook Award 2017 Winner
FutureBook Leader of the Year Bolinda founder Rebecca Herrmann
FutureBook Disruptor of the Year The Good Journal founders Nikesh Shukla and Julia Kingsford
FutureBook Campaign of the Year Ken Follett’s A Column of Fire global serialization
Booktech Company of the Year Unrd
EdTech Company of the Year Enroly
FutureBook of the Year (Adult) Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert (Amazon Publishing)
FutureBook of the Year (Children) The Golden Ticket (Wonderbly)
FutureBook Platform of the Year (Consumer) Penguin Random House UK
FutureBook Platform of the Year (Reference/Education) Kortext


GLOBAL KIDS CONNECT: Publishing in an Unpredictable World

On December 4, the third annual Global Kids Connect conference took place in New York, focusing on international trends in children’s book publishing and areas for future growth. Produced by Publishers Weekly in association with the Bologna Book Fair, the afternoon conference was divided into four segments: a presenter — NPD Bookscan’s Kristen McLean — and three panels.

During the opening session, McLean talked about the latest retail data, including breakdowns on which formats, topics, and categories are trending, such as comics and graphic novels, activity books around S.T.E.M, and classics.  Many of these classics are in the form of board books, whose sales continue to increase by 7% annually.

As with FutureBook, there were many well-crafted tweets (#GKC17) which captured a lot of the data and opinions that were shared.

In “The Professionals’ Perspective: Sales & Acquisitions in a Changing World” panel, moderator Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown Ltd. talked with two literary scouts and a foreign rights specialist about what’s selling where, as well as the impact of Brexit on UK rights. The next panel was on promoting books and brands, and moderator Daniel Nayeri, the publisher of a new imprint at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, and his four panelists explored ways of using creative content and technology to reach readers. Finally, Kate Wilson, President of Noisy Crow, led a lively closing discussion on “Publishing in an Era of Perpetual Change,” focused on both the challenges and opportunities facing today’s publishers.  Her panel, comprised of Disney’s Mary Ann Naples, Scholastic’s Lori Benton and agent Jill Grinberg, covered many topics, including the shift to direct-to-consumer.  As they talked about gatekeepers that make it difficult to reach the target market, Facebook announced its new messaging app for children – a timely addition to the conversation.

The conference adjourned for drinks and a celebration of authors, illustrators and translators who received a PW starred review this year.