Traditional book fairs are great — we’ve enjoyed a lot of success with them — but we wanted to try something a little different this year. After a great time at LBF in April, it didn’t seem the best use of resources to go to similar-veined BEA a mere six weeks later. Instead of New York, I went to beautiful Chicago for the annual meeting of AAUP — Association of American University Presses.
No doubt, it was a risk. The AAUP meeting wasn’t a book fair, and the top priority for presses attending was not formal meetings to discuss new business ventures.
But with risk comes opportunity, and that’s the only way for a start-up to flourish. AAUP offered the chance to meet with publishers who don’t tend to show up in London, New York or even Frankfurt — the mother of all book fairs. These are important American university presses with excellent content that PaperC users need to have — and vice versa, the presses want access to German and European academic markets. That makes PaperC a perfect bridge.
At book fairs, we do a lot of talking. This two-day event was a moment to listen. What do presses need? What do they already do well? What do they need help with, and how can we be that help?
Sitting in on great sessions about eBooks, digital sales and metadata — chaired by household names like Princeton, Stanford, Yale and University of California — I learned a great deal about what’s happening right now inside American university presses.
I did some talking, as well. At a session about “chunking” content (splitting up and selling parts of books), I was given an ad-hoc few minutes to stand before a packed conference room to explain PaperC’s positive experience and strong expertise in page and chapter sales.
The response was overwhelming. Eyes widened, attentions fixed, hands went up. When the session broke up, I had the chance to chat one-on-one with a handful of representatives from various presses, all intensely interested in PaperC’s model of success.
In less than two days, I ran out of a box full of business cards. Towards the end of the conference, there was no more cold introduction, because the PaperC name was already familiar.
This is a vital point. AAUP is a small, important and close-knit group of top-notch university publishers. There is a multiplier effect: talk to one, and you talk to three, which in turn puts you in touch with 5 more. And so on.
I am excited to see what tangible gains come from PaperC’s presence in Chicago. University presses are eager to expand their online offerings, and given PaperC’s easy entry to joining the platform, the range of features and services offered, and the potential revenue to be made, it is a common sense conclusion that PaperC users will, in due time, gain access to invaluable academic content from across the Atlantic.