The IPR License team was delighted to join a group of publishing, technology and other industry professionals at Byte the Book’s “The Way Forward: What Does the Future of Culture and Storytelling Look Like?” event on Monday 17th June.

Sponsored by IPR parent company Frankfurter Buchmesse, and hosted at the always charming Groucho Club, the event was abuzz with an engaged audience eager to learn about how culture and storytelling are likely to change in the future.

The audience gathers @GrouchoClubSoho

The panel discussion was chaired by Michael Kowalski, Head of Product at Tortoise and the Programme Director of Confluence (check out our summary of Confluence 2019), and his speakers included Ines Bachor (PR Manager at Frankfurter Buchmesse), James Luscombe (Technology Director at Pan Macmillan) and Alex Holmes (journalist, writer and podcaster at Mostly Lit).

Covering a theme so expansive can be a challenge, but the panel’s varying backgrounds allowed topics to bounce through a range of subject areas throughout the evening. Conversation ranged from the advancement of publishing technology in telling stories via different mediums, to the different ways an audience can absorb and engage with various forms of material.

We’ve put together a few of our favourite points from the panel below:

Byte the Book's Justine Solomons introducing the panel
Byte the Book’s Justine Solomons introducing the panel

Have we reached “peak audio”?
A natural place to begin when considering various forms of storytelling technology and mediums, the first debate covered by the panel was on the various forms of audio storytelling available to the public today, and where technology has progressed from expectations 10 years ago.

Resident podcast expert Alex Holmes suggested we are “just at the beginning of real growth”, with more to come as people realise the potential.

Ines Bachor pointed out that oral storytelling is one of the most traditional forms of narrative, and it is nice to see such a traditional medium so popular in a fast-paced, visually focused world. She added that Frankfurter Buchmesse was actually ahead of the audio trend, with their own live podcast coming out in 2007.


What is something “cool” currently in development?
Everyone on the panel agreed that the immersive technology in storytelling was an up and coming highlight, both in emerging innovations and in current products. Alex maintained that audiences are looking for more immersive stories, and storytellers are looking for innovative ways to do just that. Ines said there was a big emphasis on the immersive nature of VR and AR during Frankfurter Buchmesse, with lots of experimentation in different methods in the mix.

James Luscombe noted that the progression of Machine Learning as part of AI can be a worry, with manuscripts running the risk of going unnoticed due to bias. It’s hard to say what’s coming, he pointed out, but “I want to be in a position to take advantage of it when it does”.

Panelist Ines Bachor (right), and Alex Hippisley-Cox, from event sponsor Frankfurter Buchmesse.

Aside from audio, what other forms of storytelling do audiences enjoy?
The main thing audiences pinpoint is authenticity, according to Alex, and they search for a sense of value in the work itself. James suggested normalised formats like blogs were still very popular in narrative consumption, and mentioned platforms like Kickstarter assist writers in publishing authentic (sometimes more niche) content that their audiences are specifically interested in reading.

Anything else?
A perhaps under-explored route to storytelling lies in the gaming industry, with many in the audience interested in or already working with companies developing narratives in a more interactive space.

In terms of what this means for how we tell stories, James pointed out that games are already beginning to influence books, and Ines suggested this was an asset for the publishing industry. By having publishers as the gatekeepers of stories, this may mean that publishers look to other teams besides editors and authors, whether it be marketing, sales or technology colleagues, to all collaborate on the story to give their audiences the best experience.

Are you interested in the progression of storytelling and culture, or want to learn more? Connect with the panelists from this event @micycle @jamesluscombe @AlexReads__ @InesBachor and be in touch with Byte the Book @BytetheBook to keep updated on their next events.

The Frankfurt Audio Summit is taking place on 17 October 2019 from 2pm to 5pm at the Frankfurter Buchmesse Room Dimension, Level 4.2. Explore the programme, browse the topics, and book your Early Bird Ticket today here.

Brittany Poulin PhotoBrittany Poulin
Head of Audience Development & Account Manager


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