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Publishers and developers set for dance off

Next week The Literary Platform will celebrate its first birthday. At launch we saw FutureBook had just launched too (ok, a week before us goddammit) and although we were covering some similar ground, FutureBook was focusing predominantly on what was happening inside the book industry, while The Literary Platform had an eye on what people were doing from outside of the publishing industry. One word keeps creeping into the digital publishing debate again and again – collaboration. So in the spirit of collaboration, it’s exciting to be working with FutureBook on the inaugural Innovation Workshop – or FIW as we’re calling it.

I’ve now begun to get the programme together for the half-day event, and I’m genuinely excited at what I’m hearing from UK publishers: about what they are doing with digital and how they are innovating with success.

So I thought I’d spread the enthusiasm with an update.

We’ve divided the day into three parts, starting with publishers presenting their new projects, and talking about some of the elements involved from social reading, to cross-platform narratives through to 3D binaural sound and QR codes. Thus was have Random House’s digital editor Dan Franklin on their latest projects and on how to commission for digital (‘digital’ Dan was the undoubted star of the London Book Fair’s digital seminar, so we’re expecting something great here), the dynamic duo that is Faber’s Henry Volans and TouchPress’ Max Whitby, presenting their The Wasteland app (which from what I’ve seen so far, blows a stonking great hole through the ‘books can’t be apps’ debate) as well as Profile’s Michael Bhaskar, Harper’s Robin Harvie, RebeccaIkin and Nick Ryan from Macmillan, and Penguin’s Nathan Hull and Stefanie Posavec (on the beautifully executed My Fry app).

Two things I’ve stressed for this session is that the products on view have to bring new insight to the audience, and that the people presenting are practitioners. Publishers doing digital, not pontificating. If you want to know about the best coming out of UK publishing over the next six months, then FIW is your fix.

The second part of the half-day is a session from the developers, I’ve called “Inspire”. This is their chance to show us what they can do – I’m anticipating the event to run a little bit like the Run DMC vs Jason Nevins video where there’s a big dance off. Some of these projects have been doing pretty well, actually. So we have UsTwo c.e.o. Matt Mills, talking about top-selling app Nursery Rhymes with Storytime; while Jonas Lennermo will unveil a ground-breaking publishing app that showcases written stories combined with sound and interaction. Somethin’ Else’s Nicky Birch will talk about an R&D project looking at social streaming possibilities for audio books and we’ll also hear from Adrian Hon on his more recent Six to Start project Wanderlust, on a mobile storytelling platform that integrates Twitter and Foursquare to allow stories to take place in the real world.

The third part of the day will be an industry panel talking about how we can make digital work for us an industry – innovation costs time and money – and doesn’t always enjoy ROI – this session will be ably compared (I’m sure) by Peter Collingridge. We are calling this one, “Getting Real”. I’m particularly delighted that we’ll have George Walkley (Hachette), Tim Cooper (Mills & Boon) and Rebecca Smart (Osprey) on this panel, along with FutureBook’s Philip Jones.

This boutique event will take place on 16th June in central London, and is limited to just 150 places – about half of which have already been sold (and we only started marketing officially yesterday!). Our 2 places for £300 offer ends this Friday. You can book here.

We’ve even booked the venue. But more of that another time. These are exciting time for the industry, and for innovation in publishing as was clear from digital noise at this year’s London Book Fair. At FIW we’ll be capturing the best of this noise.

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