GLOBAL WARMING

Milia 96:
International Publishing and New Media Market Conference

9 - 12 February: Cannes, France
Sponsored by Reed Midem Organisation

Michael D. Bush, Ph.D.

Brigham Young University
Alpine Media

This article was published in the March 1996 issue of the industry newsletter, the Multimedia Monitor. Copyright 1996, Phillips Business Information, Inc. For more information about the Monitor contact 1-301/424-3338 (Inside U.S. 1/800-777-5006) Fax 301/309-3847. EMAIL CLIENTSERVICES.PBI@PHILLIPS.COM Appears here by permission.

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From larger than life-size posters of cover girl Karen Mulder to two live Klingon Warriors (beauty and the beasts?), Milia 96 was an interesting mélange of contrasts, an indicator of things happening and, potentially, a bellwether of things to come. For three days in February, close to 9,000 attendees gathered in Cannes, France, from virtually every corner of the globe, creating an event that was exciting in its breadth and captivating in its scope. With its stated focus on "content," Milia is designed to be a high-tech marketplace where distribution rights are bought and sold.

The 9,012 participants (an increase of almost 2,300 from 1995) represented 3,178 companies from 51 different countries. This year, there were attendees from 11 new countries: Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, the Republic of Croatia, Tunisia, and the Vatican (attending primarily to announce the first two CD-ROMs covering Vatican masterpieces). Conferees were treated to products displayed by 1,147 companies (up from 686 in 1995).

In addition to the exhibits, attendees were able to select from 25 different conference events described by Reed Midem's promotional material as a "captivating mix of General Sessions, Simulations, Round Tables, and Keynote Speeches covering a wide range of cutting-edge issues, moderated and presented by world-renowned speakers." (Reed Midem, 179 avenue Victor Hugo, 75116 Paris, France, +33-1 44 34 45 12, fax +33-1 44 34 44 00).

Background

Created in 1994, Milia is now on a different track than organizers originally intended it to take. I first heard of the meeting at a conference in Paris in January 1994, and the person telling me about it called it something like the "Marché International pour les Livres Illustrés et Artistiques (International Market for Illustrated and Art Books)." One doesn't need a Ph.D. in French to see how that title fits better with the acronym "Milia" than the current show title, "Marché International de l'Edition et des Nouveaux Médias (International Publishing and New Media Market)."

This is pure speculation on my part, but maybe the organizers changed the initial intended focus of the conference to keep in step with the realities of the publishing world - but then they decided to keep their first stab at an acronym, since the new title would yield something like "Mienm." This doesn't at all have the melodious sound of "Milia" (pronounced "Mee-lee-ah" in French) and might even have come out something like "Minime," which in French means "minimal" - not exactly a name that anyone would consider a marketing coup.

In any case, conference organizers carried out Milia's metamorphosis in time for the first edition of the conference in 1994 and have brought it to a position of international prominence in the fast-moving world of interactive media. A few people with whom I chatted this year mentioned that there were a fair number of print-based titles at the first conference. A few others indicated that "adult" content was not as apparent this year as last. No matter how it evolved, however, Milia 96 was a place where developers and distributors could go about the real business of building an international presence for their products.

Here are various elements of the conference coverage:

Conference Overview

Milia 96 served up a feast of information. To put it all in perspective, I have supplemented my conference coverage with sidebars highlighting four prominent trends that emerged at the conference:

You can click above or in the blocks below to read each article.

Many companies were not just showing multimedia titles, they were distributing complete catalogs of numerous multimedia titles - some in print form and some on CD-ROM. Prominent among the more than 300 companies showing/distributing titles at Milia were Havas Edition Electronique (31, rue du Colisée, 75008 Paris France, +33-1/53-89-89-89, Fax +33-1/42-25-03-80) and Simon and Schuster Interactive Distribution Services (1236 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020, 212/698-7257, fax 212/698-7555).

Internationalization

The international nature of the multimedia marketplace was evident in virtually every detail of the conference. From the attendees and selection of the speakers to the profile of the exhibit halls and the variety of countries represented in the Milia d'Or awards ceremony, it was apparent that multimedia is, indeed, a global phenomenon. (See my summary of the Awards Ceremonies.)

Promoting Quality in Multimedia Titles

Despite the quantity of products being shown, several colleagues in attendance commented that there was a dearth of quality to be found. As subjective as this comment is, I don't think anyone would argue with the statement that high-quality production talent will benefit the interactive multimedia industry. This need is being addressed by United Digital Artists, which had its message promoted by its president, Stewart McBride who presented his "International Multimedia Talent Revue." (See my interview with McBride.)

Hybrids

One of the sessions, entitled CD-ROM Goes Online, outlined a trend that some attendees felt would only increase over the next year - that is, the "hybridization" of CD-ROM and online access. Others maintained that rapidly increasing bandwidth, combined with a glut of CD-ROM products, will result in online applications completely bypassing CD-ROM over the next year. Janet Wikler, former Executive Vice President at HarperCollins, investigated the nature and potential of this developing approach to multimedia titles (see my interview with Wikler).

Titles for Women

Milia was brimming with traditional male-oriented titles such as violence-prone video games and even games that combine "adult" content with arcade game violence. One CD-ROM title, featuring cover girl Karen Mulder, might well mark the first time a major publisher has targeted women as its primary market for a CD-ROM title. Hachette Filipacchi Grolier has, apparently, developed a business case to justify the development of a CD-ROM on techniques for make-up, clothing styles, and keeping in shape - and its efforts perhaps signal a new direction for multimedia titles (see my analysis for details).

The existence of such a conference in France has an interesting footnote: It seems that in 1993, Bill Gates began trying to buy rights to great works of art from French Museums. The Minister of Culture -- at that time, Jacques Toubon -- refused to sell, stating that he did not want France to be robbed of its "patrimoine" - its cultural heritage.

This year at Milia 96, a CD-ROM-based catalog from the Réunion Nationale des Musées (Consortium of National Museums) was distributed. It contains a fascinating collection of titles on French museums and painting exhibits. It provides overviews of titles which cover exhibits on art and science, modern and contemporary art, and art and history, as well as materials for young people. As part of his opening ceremony of Milia 96, the current French Minister of Culture, Philippe Douste-Blazy announced government investments of over $20 million in support of this quickly developing industry.

Such an investment will allow the French to continue development of a vibrant aspect of its economy by supporting publishing, the development of multimedia artists, and leveraging the intrinsic value of France's "patrimoine."


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