South-by-Southwest (SXSW) is an iconic venue and conference in Austin each year. What started as a few hundred nerds, creatives, and free-thinkers has evolved into a multi-week gathering where tens of thousands visit and millions follow along online. Tech companies such as Twitter credit SXSW for helping them go viral and gain traction. Artists such as Snoop Dogg and others wander the streets and showcase new music and movies. Every year some new tech company or brand has a great story about their world-changing experience at SXSW.
This year, SXSW is breaking the mold and doing something innovative on its own. For the first time, they are offering ebooks and digital content under the SXSW banner to everyone who attends in partnership with our company, BookShout. At first glance, this may not seem like a big change, but it is laying the foundation for a transformative future. Instead of just catering to the tens of thousands of attendees who attend, SXSW is bringing portions of the experience to every desktop and mobile device around the world. The millions who follow online can now connect with the great speakers and authors, grab top books and content, and connect with one another. This year there will be 12 different ebook stores, with the primary one HERE. And its just the beginning. In the near future, SXSW and other partners can:
- Empower authors to build their audience. With the BookShout technology, we can enable an author to stay connected to anyone who buys or receives his/her book. So, if an author sells 20,000 copies, her/she is now connected to 20,000 of his/her fans. Game changing.
- Offer corporate partners the ability to get involved. Sponsors such as Dell, Monster Energy Drinks, McDonalds and others can leverage ebooks and digital content to share to millions of people at one time, with custom book covers, exclusive content, and more.
- Distribute all their materials—books, schedules, materials—all with one code. Future conferences can allow all attendees to download everything to their mobile device just by typing in a code from the back of their lanyard.
Digital content and its innovative distribution is the connective tissue between online and offline and between physical goods and content. What will start off as a small gust of wind this year at SXSW has the potential to turn into a tornado.
To help SXSW showcase just a little of what the future may look like, we are releasing our speed reader, powered by Spritz, to anyone who downloads the BookShout app. For the first time, a user can read through bestsellers and top books at massive speeds. And to answer even before you ask, no, your Kindle can’t do this.
So this year, no need to wait in a long line to buy a print book and lug it around with you. When you hear your favorite author or speaker on stage, you can buy his or her book immediately at the SXSW Store on the device of your choice. And three years from now, you can brag about how you were one of the early adopters who felt the winds of digital content changing and jumped in with both feet.