As conferences go, this mostly held up to its press, offering a comprehensive soup-to-nuts approach to the navigating the book publishing and marketing process (not really for e-books or self-publishing). The conference had good proximity (a two-hour commute), knowledgeable speakers and some networking. Though there were no formal workshops on craft, the most useful part of the time for me was the opening session (there was no keynote), where literary agents asked participants (it was a small group) to read the first page of their novel, story or memoir.
As instructive as the agents' comments were, what I found most beneficial was the mind-expanding experience of listening to other people's work as part of a larger audience. When a piece worked, we could feel it, and most people agreed. The same was true when a piece didn't work. The experience offered an opportunity to hear what others are doing, and to experience your work from other people's perspectives, especially in New York. The opportunity sparked a number of ideas for a novel I'm working on.
The consensus: The first page is all-important, even more so the first five paragraphs, the first five sentences and the first five words.
Even in a virtual world, there's definitely much to be said for the irreplaceable human dynamic.