IDPF@ BIBF Conference recap: a clarion call for an integrated global digital publishing ecosystem

September 2, 2014

Over 100 China publishing industry leaders convened in Beijing’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on August 29 at IDPF@BIBF, the first China event produced by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). IDPF@BIBF, held in conjunction with the 20th Beijing International Book Fair, focused on key issues and opportunities presented by the global expansion of digital publishing across segments of the traditional publishing industry (trade, reference, academic, scientific and education) . IDPF@BIBF was a “tremendous success” declared Mr. Liu Bogan, Vice President, China Publishing Group, in his closing remarks. Mr. Bogan also underscored a common thread running through many of the day’s talks: the strategic imperative for integration of the global publishing value chain through open standards and comprehensive platforms. Digital publishing supports a compelling need, in China and beyond, to increase reader access to compelling content. But it’s also critical to foster sustainable business models that will continue to make it profitable for authors and publishers to create and distribute that content across multiple channels. This critical need dictates increased integration: for “holding hands” across the industry and around the world. Another common theme of the day was the need to evolve from digitized editions to native digital content that takes full advantage of digital device capabilities, and which is already increasingly be created via “digital first” workflows rather than as a post-product of print production.

The rapidly evolving education publishing segment was a particular focus of IDPF@BIBF: in the day’s closing talks, Ryan Hunt, VP of Architecture and Solutions at Pearson, the world’s largest education publisher, and the CEO of Vibal Group, the Philippines market leader, showcased how their firms are reinventing themselves as technology companies as they innovate with digital content based on key open standards such as EPUB, HTML5 and the overall Open Web Platform (which were reviewed in depth by IDPF Executive Director Bill McCoy and Xiaoqian Wu of W3C Beihang University in their respective talks). The conference kicked off with a comprehensive region-by-region overview of global digital publishing market development from noted industry analyst Dr. Ruediger Wischenbart. IDPF@BIBF also featured case studies from executives Al Bertrand of Princeton University Press and Tom Christensen of Berkshire Publishing Group of how their firms are navigating the digital transformation in academic and reference segments by moving towards an e-centric model of content development. A compelling demonstration of the increasing role of interactivity in making content more engaging was provided by Joshua Seah, product manager at leading solution developer Metrodigi. And an engaging panel discussion between Copyright Clearance Center CEO Michael Healy and UK Publishers Association CEO Richard Mollett highlighted the enduring and evolving role of copyright in the digital age.

The complete program for IDPF@BIBF, with links to speaker slides, is available at With a multi-year cooperation agreement in place between IDPF and China Publishing Group, the BIBF organizers, additional IDPF events focused on the China market are planned for the coming year including an IDPF presence at BIBF 2015 as well as bilingual content by IDPF at BookExpo America 2015, where China will be the Guest of Honor.

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