A Year in Digital Publishing and What To Expect in 2013
Predictions for 2013
December 3rd, 2012
In a year of dramatic digital publishing developments, we’ve asked publishers, writers, agents, developers, academics, literary organisations and others working in digital publishing here and in the US, to give us their thoughts on the biggest stories and themes to come out of 2012 – and to tell us what they think is on the horizon for 2013.
Contributions from Michael Bhaskar (Profile), Thad McIlroy (Future of Publishing), Richard Nash (Small Demons), Bill Thompson, Peter Collingridge (Safari Books Online), Tim Wright (writer/producer), James Long (Pan Macmillan), Jeff Norton (Awesome), Joanna Ellis (The Literary Platform), Chris Meade (if:book), Helen Bagnall (Salon-London), Dean Johnson (Brandwidth), Patrick Uden (Heuristic), Joshua Cohen (Ganxy), Julian McCrea (Portal Entertainment), Neal Hoskins (Winged Chariot), Stephen Page (Faber & Faber), Jim Thompson (Edinburgh City Libraries), Jonas Lennermo (Publit).
Michael Bhaskar, Digital Publishing Director, Profile Books
2012: The major theme has been the battle for control of the digital market with two main movements. First there was the DoJ case, the investigation, the Settlement and now the on-going wrangling from the hold outs: Penguin, Macmillan and Apple. Agency had taken a massive hit and Amazon was dominant. Then in oblique form was a counter punch of sorts: the Penguin Random House merger. Make no mistake, this is about scaling up to strengthen the negotiating hand with the big boys of digital.
The other major theme: Fifty Shades and the break out ebook phenomenon. Self-publishing on the Kindle is having more of a (positive) transformative impact on the industry than anyone would have thought. Positive mainly, that is, if you publish commercial fiction. It just goes to show the most obvious changes are not always the most important.
2013: As for next year I would expect the Nook, iBooks and Kobo to continue growing, a new rush to digital, vaguely interactive fiction and at least one more mega-merger and the founding of some more digitally focused indies.
The biggest digital publishing story of 2012 was the realization that we’ve plateaued, that publishing has hit a pause button and is measuring the outcome of the battle thus far. Around mid-summer I noticed that we were re-treading the same digital memes over and over: Amazon’s dominance and its competitors’ counter-moves, the growth of tablets, the crisis in education and the recognition that book retail won’t be disappearing tomorrow. I’ve always thought the price fixing crisis was overblown. The big publishers are going to charge too much for their wares regardless; it’s only a question of how much too much and under what trading terms. The lack of true innovation in New York & London was put on crude display with Penguin’s $115 million purchase of Author House, and Simon & Schuster clambering on board in November. Think what that money could have produced if it was applied to innovating with authors and self-publishers rather than trying to humiliate them.
The Random Penguin merger is a watershed; predictable, but still important. With the merger ice now broken we’ll see several more in 2013.But the activities of the aristocracy throw a smokescreen in front of the true revolution: self-publishing and innovative small publishers outside of the traditional publishing houses. Nick Harkaway’s observation captured it perfectly: “There’s a residual perception in publishing that digital is just another market, that it can be contained and dealt with by specialists without greatly affecting the way the game is played.” The news media sides with the big publishers in continuing to treat self-publishing as a kind of childish prank, precocious because it’s sometimes outrageously successful. They’re not recognizing that the shift is the story. The dynamic within the self-publishing market tell us far more about the future of publishing than anything the big five or four or three might do.
Richard Nash, VP, Content & Community, Small Demons
From the biggest companies to the most junior employees, from the producers to the consumers, all faced these tradeoffs in 2012 and will continue to do so. Herewith the dialectics of publishing in these times, framed in American sporting and business cliches:
— Go Big or Go Home? The Random House/Penguin merger offers the combined entity a massive portfolio that is a hedge against failure, but also locks its fate into that of the marketplace itself. The tensions between the two models will grow all the more apparent as those who choose huge and those who choose compact find themselves wanting to have their cake and eat it. Also, mergers will be blamed for falling advances, which is like blaming earthquakes on falling buildings. Mergers are a response to market conditions, not a cause of them.
— Stick with a Clique, or Dance with the New Kid? Recent years have seen many entities with little previous experience enter the marketplace. Some, like Apple and Google are here by accident, as a byproduct of their ambitions. Other, chiefly small start-ups but also Amazon, are here by design. They bring with them dynamism, money, but also challenges in communication, and also in building the right receptors in your organization to interface with them. Almost everyone will have to dance, but what will be more important than choosing your partner, is learning to dance yourself. There are new skills in figuring out how to engage with the outsiders ands those tools will stand you in good stead as you find ways to allow acceptable levels of risk and uncertainty to enter the business.
— Culture is King, not Content. OK, not a cliche, but I’ve said it often enough it’s becoming one. The power of publishing lies not in picking winners (though it’s fun when you hit a jackpot) but in the process. We are not making art, we’re making culture, which is an argument about art. Our power lies in our ability to orchestrate that conversation in a way that is entertaining and edifying for those people doing the writing and reading. No-one ever really knows who the winners are going to be, so the trick is to simply play the game as adroitly and as joyfully as you can. The money will follow.
Tim Wright, Writer/Producer, XPT Ltd
As a freelance writer and development producer of mainly cross platform (or ‘transmedia’) projects, I work for a range of companies that include broadcasters, publishers, museums, universities, advertising agencies and retailers. So I suppose it’s no surprise for me to say that in 2012, the biggest trend continues to be convergence – lots of different content makers, information suppliers, entertainment companies and experience designers all vying for the attention of the same audiences on the same platforms.
For 2013 this is surely going to lead to more and more joint ventures between different kinds of publisher. This year, for example we’ve seen magazine publishers and journalists working with traditional book publishers to produce e-shots and digital shorts aplenty. Expect more unusual collaborations than that in 2013 with other hybrid publishing formats emerging. Keep an eye, for example, on what might happen with a company like http://www.atavist.com/.
My guess is that 2012 is largely going to be remembered for the publication of Fifty Shades of Gray, which has somehow single-handedly made the media industry realise that people do buy and read Kindles (duh), and offered Fleet Street the titillating idea of lots of seemingly ‘respectable’ women on trains secretly reading erotic fiction. Two things strike me about FSOG. One is that the book had its roots in fanfic and self-publishing – of which we’re going to see much MUCH more with every coming year – and the other is an emerging sense of what adults might do with these new devices that isn’t simply pretending to be a child, engaging in playful, game-like experiences and short-form video content.. Check out http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/readmatter/matter as an example of a crowd-funded content proposition that is resolutely long-form, grown-up and quite serious – i.e. not for kids.
Finally, with mobile becoming so prevalent, I’m going to continue to place bets on location-aware and location-sensitive publishing being a big thing. In particular in 2013, I’m expecting to see break-through titles in terms of travel writing, travel guides and ‘walking literature’. This year’s offerings from the likes of http://www.hackneyhear.com/ and http://www.amblr.net/ are just the start.
Peter Collingridge, VP Product, Safari Books Online
1. (Post) agency. Not only does the collapse of agency give Amazon a mandate to increase their moats, and cut millions into the budgets of their global competitors, but it also forces publishers to innovate / experiment with new models in order to try to stem the flow of customers, money and power to Amazon
2. Amazon trying to buy publishers. Expect to see a lot more of this – perhaps even the Wylie Agency is on their (ahem) wishlist?
3. Apple introducing continuous scrolling in iBooks and Jony Ive taking over HIG at Apple – early indicators that iBooks may not be dead in the water yet?
I’m not going to talk about more consolidation & the re-organisation of existing “digital” departments into the business although that will consume a lot of people’s energy and anxieties.
1. What I really want to see is Apple using iPad mini to take on Kindle both as a device and a reading device. The form factor, weight, experience of the hardware all fit the bill – but can Apple give iBooks the resources it needs to take advantage of all that?
2. Data. This could (like 1) be wish fulfillment but I think a few publishers will get real about data – but not vanity metrics…
3. Subscriptions for ebooks. Whether it’s (my employer) Safari Books Online, Pottermore, Kindle Owner’s Lending Library or Oyster, “books as a service” is undoubtedly where it’s going. Assuming that the trajectories of film, TV, music and print media is anything to go by…
Bill Thompson, Hack and Pundit
In 2012 we saw a dose of realism, as the publishing industry finally acknowledged that the internet isn’t going away and screens will be an important part of their business environment forever. That doesn’t mean they are happy with it, but with that recognition came the understanding that the printed text exists within an ecosystem that supports many other ways of reaching readers and takes advantage of the affordances of each.
The technical breakthrough was in the quality of the screens that we expect people to see through, with both e-ink and tablets getting greatly improved readability.
The rise of the coffee-tablet publication: I gave up carrying my iPad around in favour of the lighter, smaller Nexus 7. Apple fanbois now have their iPad minis, of course, but the Sonnets and Clockwork Orange look much better on a big screen and the coffee-tablet books will sell well next year.
Always-on devices: Always-on devices have changed the way book purchasing works, but I think we’ll see the emergence of book-shaped apps that allow the sort of ‘in-game purchase’ that has been common with gaming apps for a while now.
The Rise of Vinyl: Just as vinyl is undergoing a renaissance among audiophiles, the move towards the highest quality printed texts in fine binding will gather pace, and just as new vinyl releases come with the digital files on a USB stick as part of the package, the forward-looking publishers will bundle e-delivery with the physical object and superserve their customers. I’m not alone in resenting having to pay for a Kindle version after I’ve shelled out for the hardback.
James Long – Editorial Director, Digital – Pan Macmillan
- There was a lot of device anticipation in the UK market this year – Nexus 7, Nook, Kindle Fire, iPad Mini, and Microsoft Surface. It’s really great to have had each of these arrive in the end and will be exciting to see how they have each fared when the dust of Christmas settles in January.
- The catalogue available to readers continued to expand with some smart initiatives in this area, including our own Bello, and also Bloomsbury Reader, SF Gateway and The Murder Room. Of course, most of these launched near the end of 2011, but the expansion of the catalogue played out across 2012 (and is ongoing!). I think for readers, this was the year when they started to discover a wealth of titles newly available to them from the deep backlist.
- Penguin US acquiring the self-publishing service, Author House, was big news. The full import of this hasn’t really developed yet, I don’t think.
1. Smartphone adoption will peak in 2013 and we will all need to pay more attention to mobile and the reading experience in this context, both for conventional ebooks and more challenging digital publishing projects.
2. Colour digitisation will increase as the picture ebook market grows now that we have a number of tablet reading systems in our market. Consumers have a much higher expectation of digital picture books, and their children do too, so simple facsimiles probably won’t satisfy them – interactivity and novelty will need to be explored as we digitise.
3. Micro-content and metadata tweaks may come into focus for publishers as they shift to a more consumer-oriented stance in their marketing and publicity. Changes to button labels could drive as much of an uplift in sales as poster campaigns!
Jeff Norton, Author of MetaWars & Founder of Awesome
As a creative generator, I have the luxury of being platform agnostic. So long as people crave a good yarn, there will be platforms and technology serving up stories. Looking ahead to 2013, we’ll see witness a change in the way culture is curated, a reverse in the one-way author-to-audience relationship, and the pinnacle of the ‘top-tenification’:
- Pre-Seeding Is De-Risking: The likes of Kickstarter and digital self-publishing means that the established publishers will look for market traction before committing to publish. We already have this phenomenon in terms of established authors (brands) and books based on other media (TV, web games, toys), but publishers will seek to lower their publishing risk by looking for new voices and stories that are already pre-sold or road-tested. Exhibit A is the indie film business where established distributors pick up completed (i.e. road-tested) films on the festival circuit for mass distribution. In a similar model, expect more digital pick-ups from established publishers in 2013.
- Engaging The Reader: It’s now easy and fulfilling to engage with readers before a book is ever written, and authors and publishers will open up the creative process to include beta-readers the way Silicon Valley involves beta-testers in product development. I’ve already started experimenting with a new middle-grade book called ‘Alienated’ (about the only human boy in the school for aliens at Area 51) and have involved a hundred children in the development of the book, chapter by chapter. This is the Pixar model, and it works pretty well for them.
- A Clipped Tale: Digital was heralded as the advent of the ‘the long tale,’ but we’re living in an age of information overload and so the ‘top-tenification’ of the world will continue, especially in reading consumption. People are busy, distracted, and want their books to connect them with their communities of interest, so the bigger titles will be bigger, and the smaller titles will be less and less viable. Readers will want to read the books that ‘everyone is reading’ to stay connected in a fragmented world.
Joanna Ellis, Associate Director, The Literary Platform
The key events of 2012 – which will undoubtedly shape the general trade publishing industry in 2013 and beyond – all revolve around Amazon to some degree. They are the DOJ ruling on agency and its implications for publisher revenue as well as the perceived value of books among consumers and Waterstones’ partnership with Kindle – which extends to Waterstones’ online store in 2013 – which further narrowed the field for a serious competitor to Amazon’s dominance. It will be interesting to see how the Christmas crush of new reading (or reading friendly devices) fare and whether, combined, iPad mini, Google Nexus, new versions of the Kobo and Nook – untethered to an established high street brand as it is in the US – will dent Amazon’s e-book market share. I’ve noticed a shift in my own reading habits in 2012 – back to print for novels and fiction generally, and to my iPhone for all kinds of non-fiction. I am drawing no conclusions other than habits shift and loop.
I expect in 2013 we’ll see the maturation of various trends that emerged in 2012:
The mainstreaming of self-publishing with more non-genre writers opting to self-publish as they struggle to secure deals with increasingly risk-averse publishers fearful for their bottom line as margins are squeezed further. Alongside this we’ll undoubtedly see continued convergence of self-publishing and traditional publishing with more blended business models and services offered by publishers (and agents) to writers seeking to self-publish. One consequence might be the formation of more author collectives as authors band together to publish and buy-in services as a group.
Further consolidation among publishers following the Penguin/ Random House merger and, if I was a betting woman, I’d back Amazon to buy one or more UK publishers as a foundation for the expansion of its European publishing programme. I expect we will see bolder moves from publishers when it comes to forging direct relationship with readers in order to counteract shrinking margins and a narrowing of the market. Over the last couple of years we’ve seen the emergence of a new generation of publishers who place the reader relationship at the heart of everything they do – step on up Unbound, And Other Stories, UnGlue.it. So far there has been much chat about the importance of D2C but little action among established players. 2013 might be the year this changes though pushing ahead in this area will – or should – challenge the value of DRM.
I’m most excited about the possibilities that exist for writers to push the boundaries of storytelling and seeing what hitherto unimagined forms – and supporting business models – emerge. I most hope for a resolution to the impasse between publishers and libraries around e-lending so that libraries might remain relevant to their users and continue the invaluable work they do supporting literacy and introducing the joys of reading – regardless of format – to new generations.
Chris Meade, Nearlywriter and Director of if:book UK
Reasons to be Cheerful
1. The first digital Bologna Ragazzi Prize for children’s book apps being won by a tiny French start up proving that imagination and quality can win out over big names and megabudgets. Imagination, elegant interactivity and good writing conquer all.
2. The strength of the shortlist for the New Media Writing Prize highlighting quality makers of new kinds of fiction, won by Katharine Norman for her beautiful and genuinely interactive soundscape WINDOW (see www.newmediawritingprize.co.uk)
3. Tino Sehgal’s These Associations at Tate Modern Turbine Hall this summer, in which a flock of participants (one of whom was me) approached strangers and talked to them about their lives – an example of customised storytelling in the flesh, going back to the core of how we can and might want to share words with each other in the technological age.
1. Big sales of all kinds of tablets making new media writing accessible to all as a pleasurable reading experience – and not always delivered via an i-Product.
2. More literary minds opening rapidly to digital possibilities and realising they don’t need publishers to make good work, just a community of critical friends and creative collaborators.
3. At last a focus on quality of storytelling and artistic intention using the best tools and platforms available rather than an obsession with new gadgets and the woes of traditional publishers.
Helen Bagnall, Cross Platform Editor, Writer, Co-founder Salon – London
2012 has seen many high profile collaborations between writers and tech which best utilised the skills of those involved (John Lanchester, Dave Morris, Naomi Alderman). 2013 could be the year where many more writers have the confidence to adapt what they have seen to their own projects and to delve in to digital.
Publishers have embraced selling direct to consumer in 2012 and in doing so have created space for some interesting hybrids of marketing and book which could grow the market for books beyond traditional book buyers in 2013.
The mergers needed to face the financial pressures of publishing seen in 2012 create the perfect gaps in the market for niche publishers in 2013.
Joshua Cohen, Head of Business Development at Ganxy,
What an exciting time to be in publishing!
Three biggest stories/themes from last year:
1. TOR Books decision to go DRM-free: By going DRM-free with their sci-fi / fantasy imprint, Macmillan sent a strong signal to the market, particularly to the other major book publishers who will gradually make similar moves in select imprints.
2. Fifty Shades of Grey, a new paradigm for publishing: The success of the book sent publishers clamouring to find the next diamond in the rough that would make the transition from self-published fan fiction to a traditionally published blockbuster (and made it abundantly clear that publishers continue to play a crucial role in a book’s success).
3. Amazon introduces Kindle serials: The big retailers are starting to think outside of the box when it comes to what content is and how it can be bought and consumed online; the question is whether or not they’ll be able to execute on these new concepts more quickly than smaller, more nimble competitors.
Predictions for next year:
1. More industry consolidation at all levels: This year’s other big event was the Penguin / Random House merger. What could be next? HarperCollins to make a big move?
2. Beyond serials – new ways to buy and consume: Other innovations, like more flexibility with regard to what types of content can be sold and bundled together will become mainstream in 2013.
3. More major authors go direct: Look for a few well-known traditionally published authors to take Pottermore’s move to sell direct to the next level, foregoing traditional publishing arrangements and selling direct to their audiences.
Patrick Uden, Founder Director, Heuristic Media
As ex-TV and movie producer/directors this was our first full year as digital publishers. Our high-end apps based on books transcend the paper and ink they sprung from and hover somewhere between movies and magic.
It’s turned out to be an odd initiation for us, locked in the frigid grasp of the old publishing world reluctant to commit to a full-blown relationship with the new medium it could – if it wished – own. And yet free from the world of risk-averse TV and movies where commissioning editors discourage, or worse, interfere with creative freedom to stunt the output.
Unlike both of these old publishing cultures we are convinced that once the current touch-screen savvy school-aged population starts earning, Apps like ours have a truly huge future, but they’ll need a new name and better platform competition to keep the currently dominant Apple honest too.
Dean Johnson, VP, Brandwidth Innovation Lab
2012 was all about 2013 – mergers, consolidation and digital focus should all lead to a streamlined year for publishing. Don’t sit back and let everything settle for 12 months, up the pace or others will instead. It was also the year that saw Amazon drive a Trojan horse into Waterstones, Pioneering imprints took a sideways step away from books and a bunch of publishers changed their Facebook status to ‘in a relationship’.
- Wearable Tech: The year of the digital accessory, where all the cool kids wear glasses as Google, Microsoft and Apple begin the battle of the bi-focals. Discover books on the go!
- Seamless Sync: You’ve discovered the book with your glasses, now continue to enjoy the interaction on multiple screens and speakers.
- Digital Land grab: Publishing has a chance to partner with (or poach personnel from) other industries to create great digital products. The TV, film, music and gaming industries are all becoming publishers. Get a bloody move on or you’ll lose even more ground.
Julian McCrea, Portal Entertainment
1) Morphing between animations and interactive adventures for the children market. The iPad 3 now has the same processing power as a Playstation 2 did. What this means is that what content makers are able to do with the technology can be to a higher level in terms of fidelity and real-time processing than previously imagined. It also allows content makers to begin to make content that blends the characters of animation and then suddenly the character could set off in an adventure game, within the same experience.
2) A standardisation of digital content. With Amazon tablets, Google Nexus, iPad minis, as well as the plethora of digital smartphones, the hardest thing for the publisher will be how to ‘publish’ their content in a cost efficient way. I think what will see this year, is a reductionism or standard for the content as it needs to be distributed on so platforms. This might have a negative effect on the ‘experience’ the audience has on the specific device they own i.e. the content might now not use the platform it is being viewed on, in its best possible light.
3) A widening between premium and free content. I think the biggest challenge the industry face, with new digital platforms is the perceived value of the content on that specific platform. For example, due to the price of the platforms going down (i.e. Kindle at $99; Google Nexus £169), the content can be seen more as a consumable, something that can be read in two days as these platforms are able to support customer’s thiristy demand for content (this is happening in the thriller market already). At the other end, we have premium experiences being made by us and TouchPress, which are delivering high quality personal experiences, that require a higher price. Due to this, I think the mid market will be a confusing space for a consumer in 2013.
Trevor Klein, Head of Development, Somethin’ Else
Highlights from 2012:
1. DRM. It wasn’t quite the year that DRM evaporated completely, but it has been boiling away merrily. Tor going DRM-free and the success of the first Humble eBook Bundle (see http://blog.humblebundle.com/post/33237485887/introducing-the-humble-ebook-bundle) are hugely positive steps.
2. The Kindle table in Waterstones. The experience of browsing the different devices surrounded by print books (and vice versa) is surprisingly satisfying. Despite my initial skepticism, it ‘feels’ right.
3. Fifty Sheds of Grey. The parody print book based on the comedy twitter account inspired by the print phenomenon adapted from fanfiction based on the previous print phenomenon. Digital/print feeding on itself.
Crystal gazing for 2013:
1. iBooks Author. This will be the year of iBooks Author, especially on the iPad mini. Apple are investing in the platform and as it improves we’ll see a corresponding increase in quality investment from publishers to justify a higher price.
Moving away from iOS we’ll be seeing some new premium reading experiences specifically targeted at the high-end Kindle stable of devices – they’ll now have the market share to justify the increased investment.
2. Data driven narrative design. As much as possible publishers will take control of granular analytics data (borrowing a page from game development) to inspire, improve and iterate certain titles. Books as a service. There will be mixed success, but some will be very good at it by 2014.
3. Blurred edges. The edges of what a publisher is and does will continue to blur. In response to yet more niche publishers and start-ups competing for attention on ‘their’ turf we’ll see a surge in entrepreneurial behaviour and collaborations from the major publishers. Large-scale, commercially successful digital hits will become far more common.
Neal Hoskins Wingedchariot and Digital Cafe producer for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair
Predictions in the kids space:
Bologna Children’s Book Fair recognizes apps for first time with a Digital Ragazzi Award. Kids app work still demanding multimedia work for most publishers not to outsource. Toca Boca stand out as the best combination of making and selling bucket loads of new digital toys today. It will be a tippity tappity Xmas for lots of families. Quote of the year from a seven year old “Did Apple make the iPad mini for me because I am small?” I would like to see more stuff like family profile logins for Nook HD and usage control on Kindle Fire also Window phone 8 kids space for children borrowing parent’s phones.
Kindle Fire iPad mini and Nook HD will boost interest in delivery of kids colour content to families. More neat HTML5 stuff will appear. Publishers and artists will work together and redefine “play and edutainment” in the tablet ecosystem space. I’d like to see more new family magazines and comics made by kid’s publishers via apps like newsstand.
Stephen Page, CEO and Publisher, Faber & Faber
Those with set predictions and strategies will do less well in 2013 than those who experiment and adapt and both lead and listen to events. Also, there will be a rise of publisher brand in the places where niche community and reader engagement are identifiable. Creation and management of author brands will also rise in importance as the fight for attention on- and offline intensifies.
Jim Thompson, Information & Digital Manager, Edinburgh City Libraries and Information Services
2012 saw uncertainty grow around how e lending could develop for the benefit of readers, authors, publishers, and library services. There was too much airtime around Amazon, 50 Shades, publishers withdrawing from lending, and new devices. Comments from the reading public in Edinburgh libraries were about practical help in getting their devices to work, and wondering why they could only borrow certain titles. Suggestions that downloads would be restricted to specific buildings would have made people incandescent. So in 2012 did we all lose sight of the reader and retreat into entrenched, outmoded and uncertain positions?
There was light on the horizon as research in the United States suggested that people who read e-books read more than those who read print books. The vast majority get their recommendations from people not websites, and their preferred device is most likely to be … a smart phone. Meanwhile libraries and publishers in the United States seem to be making progress on e-lending that benefits everyone.
2013 will see Edinburgh continuing to grow individual and community creation of new and unique content for Our Town Stories and our World War 1 History Hub. Many other library services will be doing similar things, and more libraries will make direct contact and contracts with publishers for e-lending. On the technology front 4G and the Super Connected cities programme will increase demand for smart phones as the device of choice. The politicians may make suggestions about e-lending but the sensible solutions will only come if we all work together and show them what these are.
My 2013 wish list includes: joined up research into reading, extending PLR to e-Books, and a sustainable model for e-lending that is good for readers, authors,publishers, and libraries. Device agnostic e-books (as we are with print) might stop technology getting in the way of reading and 2013 should be the year when we all come together around what really matters … Reading. Got an app for that?
Jonas Lennermo, Project Manager, Publit
1. Data is key and will change publishing at its core, informing everything from editorial decisions to marketing, discoverability and new business models. Publishers need to take care not to get blinded by colourful charts or rising graphs and focus on the stuff that really matters: the data they need to sell their books directly to readers.
2. Build your brand. In order for publishers to sell their books directly, they need to build a brand by facing their consumers, telling them who they are and why the stories they sell are their favourites. They need to be relevant, accessible and honest.
3. Print on Demand and selling books one to one. Whilst everyone is talking about the future of e-books or the possibilities for 3d-printing, print-on-demand has been somewhat overlooked of late. With innovative machinery, like the new InkJet from Komori, the potential of print-on-demand is now a reality and it will really take off in 2013. Within five years 90% of all books will be printed in this way.
4. Embrace libraries. Publishers should be making their e-books available via libraries. Backlists are goldmines waiting to be exploited, and libraries offer a fantastic opportunity for new generations of readers to discover older titles. Libraries and publishers are natural allies: publisher supply the books whilst libraries provide support, metadata and intelligence. Publit are involved developing a pioneering new e-lending model, dual licensing, which supports the collaboration between Stockholm City Library and publishers Ordfront to bring backlist-gems back to life.
We’d love to hear from you, share your thoughts on 2012 and 2013 in the comments section below.