Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Future Book Trends Coming Soon

Image result for future trends image

At the top of mind for authors, book publishers, literary agents, editors, bookstores and marketing is a question:  Where is the book publishing industry heading?

Depending on one's experiences and hopes, we will receive a variety of answers from many people.  At a Book Expo America presentation this past month, we heard the predictions/wish-list of Margot Atwell, the director of publishing for Kickstarter.

We do know that the book industry has different cycles.  About a decade ago we saw the e-book revolution kick in simultaneously with the Great Recession and the colossal collapse of Borders, then the No. 2 book chain.  

Perhaps four or five years ago the industry stopped its hemorrhaging and began to stabilize and then grow.  Indie bookstore openings are up.  Paper book sales are up.  And Amazon has firmly established itself not only as the No. 1 seller of books but as a growing force as a publisher, both with its own line of books, kindle editions, and self-publishing.

So where do we go from here?

Margo began her discussion by saying, if the book world is to produce books that reflect a diversity of interests of potential readers then the book industry would need to hire more people from diverse backgrounds.  The book industry is 79% white.  How many acquisition editors, marketers or publishing heads are black, Asian, Hispanic, Native-American, handicapped, or LGBTQ?

Next, she says that for publishing to expand and meet the needs of America’s many faces and political beliefs it can’t all be concentrated in New York, Chicago or LA.  These liberal, expensive cities will need to give way to smaller, conservative cities.

She also believes publishers will find a way to connect more directly with their readers.  Right now, Amazon has all the data on sales.  Some media platforms also have data on book buyers/readers.  But the publishers have been lagging in selling to or communicating directly with readers.

Writers who make some 40% less now on average than they did a decade ago, according to Margot, need to make more money otherwise writing will only become affordable by people who are well-to-do.  Will we hear the voices of all classes if the poorest can’t afford to be writers?

She spoke about publishers needing to be community driven-and to connect beyond the written page.  Publishers must be a part of their city and the bookstore-library ecosystem, otherwise people do not feel a deeper connection to local publishing entities.

Lastly, she mentioned the existence of “public benefit corporations,” and how publishers or bookstores may one day become these corporations that allow for a public benefit and run to some degree with the support of government funds.

Here are some future trends that I either hope come to fruition or look destined to happen:

1.      Barnes & Noble, which recently got sold off to a hedge fund guy, will make a comeback.  It will become profitable again – and it will start to open more stores than it closes.  It must do this.  But it will take a better marketing effort on their part.  They’ll need to go beyond emailing members or posting fliers in stores about upcoming events.  They’ll need to get out there and talk books up in schools, churches, businesses, and at community gatherings.

2.      Indie bookstores will continue to open up but they’ll be smaller than current stores and they’ll need to serve reading deserts. They will have to partner with a community’s intellectual infrastructure to draw in those with the brains and bucks to come visit their stores.

3.      Book publishers will need to be faster-to-market.  The typical 18-month cycle from manuscript acceptance to publication is just too long in the I-want-it-now society that information flows.

4.      Something needs to rival Amazon, but who or how is not known.

5.      A better system of cataloging books will be needed.  Books in print, Amazon, and the Dewey Decimal System are all terrific at listing millions of books but they don’t make discoverability as easy as it needs to be. We need a clean filter that rates all books on equally agreed upon criteria, that does a better job of properly labeling book genres, and that provides a uniform-style summary of the book and the author’s credentials.

6.      Movie theaters should do tie-ins with books.  When a movie is based on a book, why not have the theaters sell the book?  If a movie is on a certain subject, such as World War II, why not sell books on that subject?

7.      A service called Book a Date should be launched online.  Single people looking to meet other bookish people should be able to do just that.  Maybe carry it a step further. Sell books on this site and when people buy a certain title, the site tells all of the people who bought the book so those who bought the same book have a chance to connect with each other.

8.      Schools should increase their book reading lists.  Kids need to read more.  I find the pace in elementary and middle school to be slow.  Get these kids to read more, and thus, increase book sales that way.

9.      Airports should allow authors to come speak.  It will increase book sales – you have people waiting around doing nothing.

10.  Publishers should link with brand chains – fast food joints like McDonald’s, coffee spots like Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks, or stores like GAP, Marshall’s or Macy’s.  Get them to sell your books.

11.  Make reading books a sport.  We have youth sports leagues, right?  Why not Youth Book Clubs?  Get our youngest people connected to books.  They can form teams and compete, based on number of books read or some other level.  Give kids jerseys that promote books.  Or better yet, have kids in the Cub Scouts or sports-team fundraisers sell books instead of some sugary, obesity-supportive candy.

12.  Put books where you least expect them – bridal registries, bathroom vending machines, at the Post Office, or in a bank.  Books must find people and be where people congregate.

13.  Books need to be packaged with other products or services, based on a theme.  How about a new parent gift basket, which could include anything from baby wipes to wine for the parents -- and books to read?  Or maybe a retirement gift box, which could include gift certificates to the bookstore along with other goodies?

14.  The book world needs to make news – not just from publishing controversial books, censorship issues, or bidding wars for authors.  The book world needs a trumped-up issue, something that bands everyone together.  Or we need something outrageous to be done so that the media is paying attention to all things books.

Who knows what will happen in the future for society, books, or our own lives?  Predictions don’t always pan out but we need to envision an ever-changing, growing, but challenging environment to sell books and then find ways to adjust or even take advantage of those opportunities.


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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