In just over a week, it will be time for the annual Futurebook conference 2023. I hope to report for ALLi from what has become one of the most important dates in the calendar for understanding the nature of our industry’s concerns, the climate in which we operate, and the overall appetite for innovation across our landscape.
Audio and AI to Dominate the Futurebook Conference 2023 Programme
In recent years, this has been the venue that introduced us to the industry’s acknowledgement of and steps towards solutions for its sustainability crisis; and to the development of digital voice tools that could unlock the potential of the growing audiobook market.
This year’s agenda headlines will contain few surprises, but again casts a spotlight on the key issues of the moment. Before I look at the programme subjects, I want to say quickly how fabulous it is that indie superstar L J Ross is the conference keynote.
There is a fantastic session on women in publishing, but two topics dominate the conference. And those topics are, as I say, no surprise; AI and audiobooks. Both have been key issues for authors for some time. Both have been seen as having elements of threat and opportunity (though the balance has been somewhat skewed to the former with AI and the latter with audiobooks).
Of course the two are increasingly intertwined as AI narration offers more authors the chance to produce audiobooks at low-to-no cost. But Futurebook’s programme tips a nod to the place where they really come together, with a panel titled, The Spotify Dilemma: Is Streaming the new a la Carte?
Spotify embodies many of the features on a horizon an industry is often too ready to believe is still distant. It will be interesting to see how discussion at Futurebook pans out around AI audiobooks, and the way we make a living in an age of streaming content.
I can’t help thinking these are conversations that are long overdue. A highly entertaining and less restrained version of that sentiment can be found in Mark Williams’ piece for The New Publishing Standard on Futurebook that is often painfully (and humorously) on the money about the ostrich tendencies of our industry.