SWF Publishing Symposium 2011: Day 1

For the past 2 days, I’ve been attending the Publishing Symposium organised by Singapore Book Publishers Association (SBPA). It is one of the many events held during the Singapore Writers Festival.

Initially, I thought it’ll be a boring session but it turns out to be an eye-opener for me and I’ve learnt a lot about the writing scene in Singapore.

The symposium took place over two days. The first day was mainly about e-books and self-publishing. This is more relevant to my work as I’m an instructional designer for educational digital resources for kids. The second day revolves mainly on the role of an author and what should a writer do to get his/her work noticed by a commissioning editor. The advices given are very useful to aspiring writers.

1. Loyalties, Royalties and the Balance of Power

  • The speakers talk about the emerge of the e-books era and how it’s changing the roles of publishers, agents and authors
  • It is being forecasted in the next five years, 50% of the books sold would be e-books.
  • It is also mentioned that it’s so much easier and convenient to self-publish nowadays, especially with e-books being pushed to a new height of popularity by the launch of Amazon Kindle.

2. E-book Conversion and Distribution

  • A company’s speaker talks about the technology of converting printed books into e-books through EPUB, which is an XML-based file format that reflows text according to screen size.
  • It is mentioned that EPUB is open standard.
  • One of the audiences also talked about the rumours that SingTel is launching an e-book application.

3. E-book Marketing

  • The speaker talks about the importance of letting people discover the e-book that one has written.
  • He also mentioned the effectiveness of using social media to achieve this purpose.

4. E-books for Kids and Young Adults

  • This is the most relevant and enjoyable session for me!
  • The speaker analyses the different markets for kids and young adults.
  • Toddler’s market: resource should be simple and focused. E.g. flashcards, pronunciation (voice recognition technology), learning vocabulary etc.
  • 7 to 13 yrs old market: game-like activities with the completion of tasks and earning credits/tokens are popular with them
  • 14 to 17 yrs old market: social network lovers and prefer to read text-based e-books, unlike the previous two groups that will go for interactive ones.
  • Institutional market: lucrative market to enter as MOE’s initiatives encourage the usage of IT in class lessons
  • The speaker mentions that the consumers market in Singapore is too low. 
  • Another speaker from GuideGecko talks about travel writing and publishing in the future. (This is a personal interest for me! *Wink*)
  • GuideGecko is a site that helps one to self-publish an app (mind you, not a book!). It helps with the creation, distribution, monetization and promotion of the app.
  • He advises aspiring writers who are thinking of using this service to write on a destination that’s not so competitive. This will help their apps to be ranked higher in the app store for the chosen destination.

5. Cross-platform

  • There were 2 speakers for this session. Personally, I think the 1st speaker was ill-prepared for the presentation and was not able to share things that are very helpful.
  • The other speakers are from Peach Blossoms. They demonstrated one of their interactive e-books for kids, Taoshu Warrior.
  • The audience were impressed by the interactions. I like their work but actually the interactions are simple and easy to produce and I’m sure my company can produce the same thing. But I must say the content (the stories) is the main selling point, rather than the interactivity.

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