When I was at Romantic Times convention, I heard the news that The Tools of Change conference, a technology and publishing conference, was being shut down. Begun in 2007, the conference was aimed at bringing technology and publishing together. The announcement indicates that the sponsor, O’Reilly, will move on to offering other things. The publishing conference was very expensive and it often included people outside of the traditional publishing sphere which I thought was a positive. A couple years ago, Digital Book World began its own conference with a much higher traditional publisher involvement. The tech focus and the lack of traditional publisher support likely led to the decline of TOC. I’ll always appreciate what I learned from these conferences and I’m sad to see it cancelled.
But I also applaud TOC for pulling the plug on something that wasn’t right for them any longer because as the landscape of publishing is rapidly evolving, being nimble is never as important as it is now. I was sitting with Angela James and Sarah Wendell on Saturday discussing how Romantic Times has really evolved as a the convention. The conference organizers have been very open to suggestions and recommendations. It is not the same conference that was five years ago with the strippers and the focus on the sexuality in romances. Instead, the conference is really about bringing authors and readers together as well as facilitating readers meeting other readers. RT in responding to both author and reader input on how to make the conference better has created an atmosphere full of conviviality and passion around reading. I heard nothing but positive things this weekend as people planned to attend RT in New Orleans next year.
There truly is something for everyone here.
There are some conferences and conventions and businesses that are stale and suffer the lack the ability to recreate itself, as needed. Tools of Change wasn’t one of those, however. But maybe the conversation about what needs to be done to change is being replaced with change itself. If we’ve learned anything in the last year of publishing, it is the need to be able to respond quickly to the changing market. It’s frustrating to hear the constraints that certain long standing businesses are operating under because, in the end, the inability to innovate will be their demise.