Well, this morning I received my invitation to the World e-Reading Congress 2011 in London. I opened the mail with anticipation thinking here is an event which could be very interesting. My eyes were immediately drawn to the box-out in the centre of the letter which accompanied the 8 page colour brochure. The box read “If you register before 1st April you can save up to £290!”, at this point my heart sank and I realised here is another event which is not aimed at opening up the debate beyond the publishing big boys. Another BS back-slapping affair designed to make them feel comfortable with their own knowledge and without any real sense of what is happening in the real world. Entry to the event is only £3,822 though to be fair special publisher rates reduce this to £2,634 and if you cut out the Pre-conference workshop a bargain at only £1,710…get real! Have the organisers of this event really lost so much touch with reality that they think small publishers in this austere times can afford that sort of money, no matter how jam packed with goodies the 2 day conference is?
I don’t think so, I think it has been priced to make this nothing more than away-day for the big publishers. Publishing in the UK isn’t far from being on its knees and here is my ticket to gorge at the table of kings, if I am willing to put my business at risk to purchase a ticket for the pleasure. Let me think long and hard about this, what is a better way to spend (let’s be generous to conference and go cheap) £1710.00 the answer to that sadly is almost anyway. Clearly this event is nothing more that the same old closed shop of publishing trying to monopolise its usual position in the industry when threatened with a world of publishing which is becoming more open and more democratic.
It is truly a shame because I have no doubt that much of this conference will be useful, clearly though by adopting such a pricing policy the message being given out by the organisers is clear…”Small guys, you are so not welcome.”