Full disclosure: I’m not in Boston but rather in Florida, but nevertheless I attended the Independent Publishers of New England 10th Annual Conference in Boston this weekend. As I’m sure you’ve figured out, it was virtual. Online. A Zoom conference, yes, but hands down the most exceptional Zoom conference I’ve yet attended.
First of all, the conference program was filled with interesting speakers and topics, two events per hour, touching on almost every important aspect of writing and publishing. Second, a team of IPNE volunteers, headed by Mary Catherine Jones and Michael Mavilia Rochester, MC’d the program, handing people off from one event to another without a hitch. We had over 120 attendees and members, literally from coast to coast, and everyone was visible (unless they chose to turn off their video) to the other attendees. One cool innovation was occaasional networking rooms where you could just hang out and chat with other attendees, sans a designated speaker/presenter.
The conference began Friday afternoon with a keynote address by Paige Allen, director of IngramSpark which is quickly becoming the driveing force on the forefront of self, indie and hybrid publishing. It continued all day today Saturday, and tomorrow will be capped by a special session with Jane Friedman, perhaps the single most knowledgable publishing industry analyst and commentator. I subscribe to both of Jane’s newsletters to stay abreast of publishing trends and news, and look forward to “seeing” her speak tomorrow.
Everyone I’ve spoken with says this was the best publishing conference they’ve attended, and I agree. It was made so because our people put their professional efforts into building and executing a top-flight program, and because we used Zoom for its presentation, which is IMO becoming a very sophisticated but easy to use and navigate meeting platform. It’s said that necessity drives innovation, and it’s easy to conclude that this is one truly exceptional cultural shift brought on by COVID. And we didn’t even need to put masks on.