Well, I’d have to say it was a very good conference. Attendance was up, San Francisco was sunny and warm, and I thought the sessions were very good.

I had the advantage/disadvantage of being one of the track chairs of the publishing track, which meant that I had to attend all six publishing sessions. I managed to catch the keynotes as well, which were jam-packed. But I’ll leave it to others to discuss the other tracks and sessions.

We tried to expand the publishing track this spring from a focus solely on automated publishing (we brought that topic down to one session). The subject is important, and very relevant to the rest of the Gilbane conference content, but we had the clear intention of making the publishing track much broader in scope than it had been before.

Steve Paxhia very kindly allowed me to lead off with what was really a dual session. I introduced my new web site: www.thefutureofpublishing.com, but also spoke more broadly on the subject. I’ve got a ton of material that I’m slowly loading onto the Web site, and nine years of research behind it.

We then moved to “Publishing Automation: What Can You Do Today?” and had three great speakers tackle the topic. OK, they were all book publishers, but each had a markedly different approach, and I decided, in the end, that listening to three approaches to a similar problem might be more interesting than three approaches to completely different challenges.

The topic “How Will Internet Communities and Collaboration Technologies Change Publishing Best Practices?” was a tough one, and Steve and his speakers handled it very well. This subject is so slippery. Do you need to create a community on your Web site? What is the ideal extent of collaboration? I was left with the clear sense that community and collaboration are essential to nearly all publishing Web sites.
We then featured two sessions on cross-media publishing strategies. Bill Rosenblatt is the expert. It struck me that there are still a lot of unanswered questions around cross-media publishing, but absolutely no question about the necessity and reality of this phenomenon — not only is it essential, but the tools are there today.

Bill Trippe wasn’t available to moderate “Publishing for International Audiences: Top Challenges and Best Practices” but he had selected two great speakers: Stéphane Dayras, technical services manager for Quark in Europe, and Ben Martin, senior analyst at Flatirons Solutions in Colorado. They were the perfect pairing. Stéphane introduced the topic broadly, and offered a true international perspective. Ben is “the scientist,” and showed extensive details of planning for this tough challenge. Most of the audience stayed behind for an extra half-hour.

Where do we go from here? I’d love to hear from attendees with suggestions. I think we still face a challenge effectively blending this publishing content into the broader Gilbane conference. But I think we’ve given it a home.

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