Thursday, October 27, 2016

What Are The Trends Influencing The Future Of Book Publishing?

A few months ago, the founder of SmashWords, Mark Coker, identified 10 trends shaping the future of publishing. He wrote about them for Publishers Weekly. Let’s examine some of his predictions and see how many ring true.

1.      The rise of e-books.  He notes that a decade ago, ebook sales amounted to less than 1% of the trade book market.  E-book sales account for 25% of all revenue and up to around 40-50% of all units sold.  He believes the accessibility of digital will continue to erode print readership.  But he didn’t mention that the opposite in the past two years has happened.  Print book sales are up; e-book sales are slightly down.

2.      Publishing and distribution democratized.  Well, sort of.  Yes, authors can publish anywhere and on their own.  They can get access to the retail market on their own, but the vast majority of best-sellers and successful books still come from traditional publishers and they still remain a tough nut to crack.

3.      E-books going global.  He’s right that there is global opportunity with digital books, but the market’s flooded with e-books, so it’s hard for too many to break through.

4.      The rise of indie authorship.  Sure writers can get published without a publisher, but again, as with point number two, the real opportunities still seem to rest with traditional publishers if the goal is to have a breakthrough book.

5.      “The stigma of self-publishing is disappearing,” wrote Coker, This is true but not fully.  Everyone has a little stigma about the fact they had to self-publish if they tried and failed to get traditionally published.  Further, the media has a little bit of a stigma over self-published books when it comes to major book reviewers at printed publications.

6.      Amazon poses a major danger to the book industry when it comes to Kindle Unlimited.  I completely agree that these all-you-can-read monthly services are horrible for the book industry.  Further, the way Kindle prices e-book single-copy sales, is atrocious. When will writers and publishers abandon this devaluing system?

Overall, though the book industry seems to be under constant change and attack, looks healthy and should see steady growth for the remainder of the decade.  The trends we need to watch are these:

  • ·         Glut of books published in America and globally and the eternal backlist being available forever makes marketing a book ever challenging.
  • ·         The dilution of news media covering books – we have more outlets, fewer readers-viewers-listeners per outlet than ever before.
  • ·         The rising competition of media, whether paid or free, from blogs, podcasts, TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, movies, streaming services, plays, games, etc. that limits a consumer’s time or resources to buy books.
The book industry will always be a solid, growing force, provided we support physical bookstores that sell printed books.  That’s the backbone of the industry.  If print falls, everything else goes with it – and that won’t be pretty.

Autobiography and Biography
“Writing about one’s own or another’s life poses serious challenges. A writer trying to represent his life in a book engages himself in ongoing negotiations about what information to include and what to withhold, what he believes is true and what he wants readers to think is true. The need for synthesis – coherence, connections between past and present – is a constant struggle for the autobiographical writer. Often, the sense of life as a logical, purposeful unfolding becomes more important to the autobiographer than objective truth. Also vital to writers of autobiographies is the drive to make their work relevant and accessible to their readership – as well as a desire for connection a social and spiritual need to “reincarnate,” to have their hard-won perspective exist outside themselves.”  -- Helena Hjalmarsson

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.
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