On 9-10 May, the Publishers’ Forum and THE ARTS+ of Frankfurt Book Fair will bring together leading thinkers from the areas of publishing and other creative sectors to discuss the topics that are most relevant for the future of the industry on stage in Berlin. Will you join us?

Fishing for stories – powered by machine learning

The traditional balance between established industry segments of providing and selling content is being reshuffled. Wattpad, the Toronto-based international platform for authors, has just announced that they will establish Wattpad Books. The goal of this publishing branch is to find new talents and approaches to storytelling by scanning the global community of 70 million users – and to make these stories and approaches available worldwide as books.

Wattpad is using a radically technology-driven approach to achieve this: They created “DNA Machine Learning” to evaluate the billions of individual data points of 565 million stories that have been uploaded to the platform to date. Analyzing this data will enable them to understand international trends in reading and thus to publish the most promising stories as books.

Ashleigh Gardner, who has just been appointed Head of Wattpad Books, will explain how these processes work in detail.

Publishers do have a relevance and position in new business models, but roles are changing. Wattpad is an example of this. They established a cooperation with Hachette in the UK a while ago. In the US, Macmillan will be responsible for distribution services for Wattpad Books.

Who manages to attract the best talents – and how?

But can people in publishing retain their position as the ones authors are most interested to talk to about their work and making a deal? Or is there a shift of best talents in writing to rather approach TV companies, developers of stories as games, or distribution platforms? Olivia Hetreed, currently President of the British Writer’s Guild, scriptwriter, filmmaker, and producer, will share her insights and experiences.

Are publishers the new service providers?

How can the creative sector establish and implement strategies to close the gap to innovative technology companies, in order to remain strong and competitive? Traditional organizations such as publishers are at risk to be forced out of their broad range of business models to simply become service providers, unless they manage to fill this gap.

This is Holger Volland’s thinking, VP and Board Member of Frankfurter Buchmesse, who authored the book “The Creative Power of Machines: why artificial intelligences decide what we’ll feel and think tomorrow” („Die kreative Macht der Maschinen: Warum künstliche Intelligenzen bestimmen, was wir morgen fühlen und denken“).

London and Barcelona as creative hubs

Debating the relevance of innovation and changing roles of the key players can, of course, not be separated from political developments. London and Barcelona, two of Europe’s leading hubs of creativity and homes of a large number of publishers and media companies, will be in focus:

Emma House, Deputy CEO of the Publishers Association, UK, will speak about the implications of Brexit and the potential of making the publishing business more international.

Patrici Tixis, Chair of the largest Spanish guild of publishers (known as Gremi d’Editors de Catalunya), based in Barcelona, and Director of Corporate Communications at Grupo Planeta, will cast a spotlight on Barcelona as a “creative industry lab”.