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ECPA Wire: Industry Issues

Ten predictable trends and six revolutionary predictions for the future of publishing

Thursday, January 12, 2012   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Sheri Toomb
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by Jamie Israel, Director of Global Marketing, Content Solutions, SPi Global

These ten common denominators come together as a general consensus as we head into 2012:

1.     Brick and mortar stores will continue to close. This includes bookstores. Their downtown rents are higher than for online stores

2.     eBook publishing and reading will continue to grow. Printed books will still be needed for promotion.

3.     More and more established authors will abandon their New York publishers when their contracts let them.

4.     Ads will begin to appear in eBooks. Unlike pBooks, the ads can be added at any time and charged for by the book.

5.     More books will be made into Apps but only the interactive App will be viable. Static, one-use Apps offer no advantage over an eBook.

6.     Pre-Pub reviews will disappear. Without brick and mortar stores and the three selling seasons, there is no need for advance notice of books.

7.     More magazines and newspapers will close. Advertisers are following eyeballs from print to online.

8.     Books in Print become irrelevant. There is more bibliographic information at Amazon and the information is free.

9.     The future of nonfiction publishing is eBooks. The future of eBooks is color.

10.  The future of reading is on a screen. The future of authoring is multimedia.

By now, these points seem to go without saying. However, Kevin Kelly, former Editor and now Senior Maverick at Wired magazine, had a further interesting outlook and discusses six trends that will revolutionize the publishing industry.  Here are his six trends:

1.     Screening. Screens are everywhere. We are moving from being people of the book to people of the screen.
Every flat surface will eventually have a screen on it. We have not yet begun to see the extent to which screens will permeate the culture. You cannot tell in advance what is going to be shown on a sctreen–a web page, movie, book…. We are moving from an oral culture to a visual one.

2.     Interacting. We now interact not only with our fingertips, but with gestures (for example on smartphones), and even with our whole body. Reading will expand to a bodily conversation. We also interact with our voices. You can have a Kindle read to you. Audiobook sales are rising 5% per year. Who would have imagined that this would become a major way to read? In 2011, 2 billion camera phones are in the hands of users. Eyetracking is becoming a viable way to interact. Soon we will have adaptive text, in which books look back at us. Although interactive media failed in a previous era, technology has allowed it to return and be successful. Now we have nonlinear narratives–alternate endings–to books. There is far more reading going on than we realize.

3.     Sharing. Everything is looking in the cloud for information, and the cloud is looking back at us, which is the basis for all sorts of social engagement. Reading is becoming much more social. Wikipedia is a single book with 27 million pages. (Each page can be thought of a little book.) Eventually all text will be in blue, i.e. hyperlinked, and all books will be linked into one large text–a library. We read socially, and we must write socially. We are only at the beginning of sharing. Everything increases in value by being shared.

4.     Accessing. We gain much more value by accessing information rather than owning it. Why own something if you have instant all time access? This is huge shift and a fundamental difference in this economy. For $20,000 you can store every book on the planet. We will soon see everything available–why will anybody own it?

5.     Flowing. Files flow into pages, which flow into streams. Some well known flows are Twitter, RSS, and Facebook streams. Books will operate in the same environment. Flows go through in streams, which are constantly updated and amended. Our own lives will be a stream of chronological data. Streams go everywhere and are never finished; they are constantly in flux.

6.     Generating (not copying). Today we have more selection, more quality, and more access–a complete renaissance for reading. There is no better time for readers than now. Everybody is benefiting except the producers, and everything is moving towards free. Publishers are not ready for the idea that books will sell for 99 cents. The Internet is the world’s largest copying machine. Everything will be copied. The only value will be in generatives, which must be generated in context and cannot be copied, for example:

-        Immediacy. You can get anything for free if you wait long enough.

-        Personalization.

-        Authentication.

-        Findability. Amazon is selling the findability of a book.

-        Embodiment. Music is free but its physical embodiment (such as in a performance) is not.

-        Interpretation. Software is free, but a manual often is not. (O’Reilly’s Missing Manual series has been very successful.)

-        Accessibility.

-        Attention/patronage.

His trends provide a more in depth understanding of where the publishing industry is right now! Generally speaking, until now, there have been three elements to publishing: The Author, The Publisher, and The Reader. The publisher has been part of this formula because it has been the critical link between the author and the reader; however, the Internet and Social Media tools like blogs have bypassed the publisher.

The publishing industry has become irrelevant in the Social Media age. However, in world of publishing, change can equal opportunity! With the explosion in new communication technology—and the corresponding shift in consumer behavior—comes a once-in-a-lifetime chance for publishers to reinvent themselves. This is the time for publishers moving in to 2012 – will they be able to do it?

SPi Global can help you maximize your content both online and offline. For more information, please visit




David Lewis says...
Posted Friday, January 13, 2012
I'd suggest that printed books will continue to be more than half of the market for books for at least the next 10 years. As long as that remains true the major authors will not by-pass publishers in mass. The publishing community must work together to discourage the notion that all books should be free or $.99. Not only books but movies, music, newspapers and magazines are being sold in ever larger numbers digitally. If you offer people your content in an easy to purchase and affordable way, they will pay for it. The iTunes store proved you could turn pirates into honest citizens with an easy and affordable way to access the content.

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