Digital Book World Keynote: Shiv Singh

At the Digital Book World conference in New York this morning, author and Razorfish exec Shiv Singh gave the morning’s first big talk of the day. Much of what he said will be review for folks in the publishing industry who’ve been rethinking their business for the last couple of years, but he nonetheless made some very interesting points.

Underscoring his whole talk was the notion that publishing–or any business–is now “all about relationships,” including not just online social networks but also all other forums, virtual or in person, through which the business can come to know its customers. He emphasized that there is no longer business to business media: publishers must now connect directly with customers, just as customers are now connecting directly with authors. He said it’s not just about having a social network presence, but having a strategy for using that presence.

He offered tips on branding and how to become a consumer brand, urging publishers to identify and reach out to social influencers–the “cool kids” from high school.

He had a fresh notion of the idea of looking for authors with platforms. “Authors who already have audiences…are going to be a lot more expensive,” said Singh, and publishers will have to find these people just before they break out otherwise they won’t be able to afford them.

Most interesting is his plan for how he’ll develop his next book: he’s going to ask his fans from his fan page what he should write his next book about, what publisher he should use. “That’s the change that we see,” said Singh.