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Never-Ending Conference Becomes a Reality

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Never-Ending Conference Becomes a Reality

by John Mutter

A new conference focusing on industry issues begins next week in New York City. Called Online Viral and Electronic Retail Killer-Apps and International Literary Logrolling—for short, OVERKILL—the conference will run indefinitely.

BEA event director Steve Rosato, who said the idea came out of a BookExpo America brainstorming session late in the term of BEA show manager Lance Fensterman, indicated that the group will not meet on federal holidays and will break early on Fridays and weekends. “The rest of the time, however,” he said, “we have a tight schedule because there’s just no end to speculation about the future of books and publishing.”

Panel discussions include:

• Social Media in the Next 60 Minutes: Predictions and Prognostications (held hourly)

• Eternal Debate 1: E-Books vs. P-Books (will fill empty slots as needed)

• Vook, Nook, Kobo, Kindle: Can’t Anyone Come Up with a Decent Digital Book Name?

• Eternal Debate 2: Can Consumers Be Made Aware of Publishing Imprints?

(will fill empty slots as needed)

• Standards Hell: ONIX, DRM, BISAC, DNR, ANSI/NISO, GTIN-14, WTF, ETC.

• Eternal Debate 3: How Much Are Book Standards Slipping?


(will fill empty slots as needed)

• Less Than Zero: Evolution of the Publishers Sales Force

• Eternal Debate 4: The Next Revolutionary E-Thing

• Blogging/Twitter/Facebook 101: What!? You’re Not

Chronicling Every Moment of Your Day for the Rest of the World Yet!?

Regular keynote speakers include Bob Stein of the Voyager Company, author Seth Godin, Mike Shatzkin of the Idea Logical Company, Peter Brantley of the Internet Archive, Dominique Raccah of Sourcebooks, and Michael Cader of Publishers Lunch. Shelf Awareness’s John Mutter has agreed to dust off a speech about CD-ROMs given in London in 1995 to deliver again, but with all CD-ROM references replaced by references to the Web and e-books. As time goes by, organizers indicated that just about anyone who’s ever held a book or turned on a computer will be invited to speak about their experiences.

“We had, of course, planned to cut BEA down to two days of trade show and one day of education this year,” Rosato said. “But late last year as we began preliminary discussion about the show, we found we had even more potential programming than ever, and Lance said, ‘What the hey, guys! Let’s extend the three days of BEA magic to the whole year!’ And the rest, as they say, is future history.”

OVERKILL is seeking to partner with other shows, fairs, conferences, and meetings to create “a seamless web of Web discussion,” as Rosato put it. Among possible partners: Digital Book World; O’Reilly’s Tools of Change Conference; BISG’s Making Information Pay; the AAP Annual Meeting; December sales conferences; Carl Lennertz’s lunch dates; and outdoor smoking sessions with Ruth Liebmann. “We aim to be a kind of umbrella or tent to accommodate all prognostications, observations, wacky and snarky comments, and more,” Rosato said.

Organizers are working closely with media, including Shelf Awareness, Publishers Lunch, GalleyCat, Publishing Perspectives, and Publishers Annual (the former PW). In addition, conference organizers are seeking to involve book bloggers, book tweeters, book-related listservs, and anyone sending text messages and e-mail using the phrases “digital,” “going forward,” and “only time will tell.”

OVERKILL will be held in a variety of venues in New York City, in what Rosato called “a kind of moveable feast.” Sites include the Random House lunch room and conference rooms, the McGraw-Hill auditorium, the Javits Center, the New School, and a range of bars. In warm weather, OVERKILL may meet al fresco in parks or, depending on attendance levels, on street corners.

Attendees will be able to sign up under several plans, including three-day, weekly, and monthly tickets. For $999, attendees can purchase a ticket for life.

As social media becomes more popular, the long-term plan for OVERKILL is to become an event at which panelists will tweet their remarks to the audience instead of speaking them.

John Mutter is editor-in-chief of Shelf Awareness (shelf-awareness.com), where this satirical piece originally appeared. It appears here with permission.

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