Farrar, Straus, and Giroux president Jonathan Galassi opened BEA 2010 with a contentious conversation between industry leaders–generating plenty of fireworks, but few conclusions. His publishing CEO panel focused on the themes of Galassi’s controversial NY Times op-ed.
Panelists included: Authors Guild president Scott Turow, Ingram CEO David ‘Skip’ Prichard, ICM executive VP Esther Newberg, Penguin CEO David Shanks, and ABA CEO Oren Teicher.
The panel skimmed over a number of sticky publishing issues, everything from Amazon price scales to enhanced eBooks to piracy. Agent Newberg came out swinging, addressing the fact that she was the only woman on the seven-person panel. “This group is worse than the Supreme Court,” she quipped.
“Digital versions didn’t cause piracy,” Prichard said, reminding the panel that the majority of pirated books are scanned, not eReader editons. “If you don’t have a digital book, you can scan the print version in five minutes.”
Galassi was blunt about his digital feelings: “I think it was a mistake to ever let Amazon put out an eBook edition simultaneously and let them charge what they charge,” he said.
ABA’s Teicher spoke of collaboration between bookstores and digital books: “There are a significant number of readers who still want to come to a physical place. We’re trying to empower stores to sell content in whatever format readers want.”
Newberg had some hope for the future, talking about reading on her iPad: “The value of a book will increase with enhanced book. When publishers can offer a richer experience,” she explained.
Galassi disagreed: “Who has time? Do you want to spend your whole time reading in a closed system of links?”