At the Frankfurt Book Fair

October 15, 2008

All this week I’m at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is the main trade show of the book industry.

I’m giving a presentation on saturday entitled Book Swapping Web Sites: Not The Apocalypse. I came up with the catchy title because I’ve found many people in the book industry recoil when I explain that I run an online book swap, and I’m hoping to build some bridges while I’m here.

Here is a fuller description of my presentation:

Companies enabling book swapping are growing quickly, on the strength of the social relationship of book reading and recommending, the cost-savings, and offering a more “green” approach to book reading. This phenomena appears massively destructive: why would a consumer click “buy it now” on Amazon when they can click “get it for free” instead? The speaker, who is the CEO of one of these book trading web sites, will present data that while book trading is quite predatory on the second hand, used book market, it appears to stimulate new book sales, as well as to create more readers, moving books and reading into a central position in their lives.

Drop me an email if you’re in Frankfurt as well and want to meet.

On sunday, I head to Sweden, first to give a presentation at the Nordic Cultural Commons Conference in Stockholm.

My friend Herkko Hietanen is running the conference, and I’m looking forward to meeting up with CC-Mixter honcho Victor Stone and his artist wife Cindy.

Later next week, I hop on a train to Gothenburg for the FSCONS, “first among many Free Society conferences that bridges the gap between free software and cultural freedom.”

At FSCONS, I’ll be able to see Nikolaj Hald Nielsen, who is a fantastic Danish computer programmer who works with me on Magnatune. We correspond daily, but I have only met him once previously, and only for about an hour!

Cameras aren’t allowed at the Frankfurt Book Fair, except at public demos, i.e. not trade show booths.

The fair was running an old Linotype machine, and I took some video of it with my iPhone. The video is not that exciting, as the Linotype kept jamming. It’s a bit hard to see, but there are things spinning all over the place (it’s a Health & Safety disaster). The Linotype is a lot more primitive that I thought it would be: all it does is let drop the type letter for the key you press, and flush that type left against the others. It’s faster (I guess) than having all the letters of the alphabet in front of you and building the sentence up by hand, but it’s not the modern wonder I thought it would be.

15 Responses to “At the Frankfurt Book Fair”

  1. Euan said

    Good luck with the presentation! I’m not going to Frankfurt but would love to see it, are you going to upload it to Slideshare or anything?

  2. Joel G said

    Yes, I go with Euan in wishing you all the best with your presentation, John.

    I’d really love to know if you’ll ever stumble into major book industry people there who look at the online book swap sites like Bookmooch in a COMPLETELY positive way. And how they intend to help nurture them then.

    But I’d like to hear as well what’s the worst reactions you’ll face when you introduce and show the rise of online book swapping sites like Bookmooch in that major event of the global book industry. That’s a blog post I’d check out anytime. 🙂

  3. Yes, I will be posting my presentation on slideshare, and linking it here, once I’ve uploaded it.

    I’m generally going to make the case that book swapping is already pretty big, growing quickly. Swapping is more green and cost-effective, both points which are only more important in a recession, when people watch their spending, and when everyone is very aware of the cost of oil.

  4. Leah M. said

    This may sound weird but YOUR IPHONE TAKES VIDEO?!!!! How do you accomplish that? I have had one for over a year now (I purchased the new 3G over the summer) and my biggest gripe has been no video capture.

  5. Lenore said

    I’m in Frankfurt and I might just have to stop by!

  6. re: how to record video on your iPhone.

    You need to first jailbreak the phone, with this:

    and then with the cydia installer program, install Cycorder

    and finally you need to install netatalk (appletalk for iphone) so you can copy things off the iPhone.

    There’s nothing nefarious about this, it’s just that Apple doesn’t currently allow direct access to the iPhone camera, so it’s video recording apps aren’t on the iphone store.


  7. Kathy S. said

    I can attest to the fact that bookmooch has increased my purchase of new books (which is ironic b/c I originally got involved as a way to get rid of books b/c I had too many).

    It usually happens b/c I’ll start book 1 of a series, but I can’t find some or all of the remainder of the series on bookmooch, or even if I can find them, I want to start reading book 2 NOW, not a few weeks from now when media mail will deliver my mooch.

  8. Leah M. said

    Thanks. I will try it. Good luck with the presentation and have safe travels!!!

  9. Carrie said

    I am in complete Agreement with Kath S – I receive the first one or two books in a series, then immediately run out to be the rest of the serious, sometimes 5 or 6 books. I’ve even bought Hardcovers of books to complete a series!

  10. Mark Williams said

    When VCRs first entered the consumer market in the 70s, theater owners and movie studios were convinced that this would spell the end of the industry, and even attempted to ban the machines (Sony V Universal studios).

    But the opposite happened, of course, as the new technology created millions of new movie lovers and dramatically expanded the demand for theatrical releases.

    I’ve always felt that used books stores functioned in this way, on a smaller scale, and that sites like Bookmooch will continue to awaken people to the benefits of reading good books (or not-so-good :). After all, with an overall decline in the percentage of younger people who identify as ‘readers,’ anything which brings people into the culture of readership, from Harry Potter to E-books, can only benefit the long-term interests of the publishing industry, not to mention society in general…

  11. Unfortunately I Haven’t read this before I went to the book fair yesterday, would have been nice to meet you in person.

  12. Margriet said

    I agree with Kathy S, Carrie and Mark Williams. I have also experienced that I buy books more easily since I started with bookmooch. I take more risks to buy a book of which I am not sure whether I will like it, because if I don’t then maybe somebody else on bookmooch does. If I know a book is on many wishlists I will buy it, or if it is on my wishlist for already some time, I will buy it. It is nice if a book makes me happy, but now there is also the pleasure of being able to send it to somebody else, so that it finds a new “home”, as somebody had written so nicely in their profile.

  13. Carolyn (AU) said

    For me BM has been a great way to sample new authors at low cost. When I find writers I really enjoy I’m much more likely to buy other books written by them, especially new ones that might not be available on BM for a while.Eventually most of these find new homes via BM so everyone wins.

  14. Susy Puyo (Argentina) said

    I love bookmooch! I continue buying books but I have two long lists: one of books I don’t wish to keep in an excellent condition and 2) one of older books that cannot be found in bookstores any more. From the second I’ve got some jewels in Bookmooch. And the sense of global friendship is amazing! Keep the good work

  15. Kit Sunde said

    I listened to your talk on FSCONS and you blew my mind away, I had no idea that something like this was in place. Great talk!

    PS: Thanks for the chocolate. 🙂

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