The book publishing world is poised for more growth in 2022, regardless of what happens with Omicron or any new Covid variant. How can I state this so confidently?
Covid has given us a two-year track record and it has been a positive one for book sales.
Considering how crazy consumers are going with spending on all goods and services this year, it is obvious people have money to spend. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up some 35% from a year ago. Money. Home sale prices are up in the double digits. Money. New investment opportunities in crypto and NFTs are minting overnight cryptonaires. Money. Anyone who wants a job, can have one. The unemployment rate is crazy low. Money. Salaries are way up. Money.
True, there is inflation but many people are staying ahead of it. And don’t forget all kinds of government handouts and bailouts have flooded the marketplace with money. Books are affordable in times of a recession – and certainly in a boom economy. They are desired in good times and in bad.
Even with the supply-chain madness, there are plenty of books readily available for purchase. You can count on being able to find a book that you want – for yourself or as a gift – in a store or online. Looking for an oven or a car? Good luck!
More indie book stores opened than closed this year, again, meaning more growth is taking place in the book world.
More books are being published each day than ever before.
Let’s look at other aspects of the book industry:
POD – More people will publish this way. No inventory to manage and no upfront costs. If the book fails to get traction, no loss. If stores are not open, the book is still available. The two drawbacks: Print on Demand (POD) is not taken as seriously by the media and books only get sold when there is a demand. POD books usually are not in stores, where people can otherwise discover them.
University Presses – Their books are sold on campus, both as textbooks or in the campus bookstore for popular consumption. They often sell beyond the campus, but only when the author speaks somewhere or does book signings. With corona, university presses suffer to a degree.
E-Books – Like POD, but without any printing costs, they can be sold on any site, 24-7, and are corona-immune. But the vast majority of book sales pre-corona came from printed books, so e-books are not the ideal way to go unless there’s a paper book version too.
Conferences – The book industry has so many important bookfairs, writer conferences, library gatherings, US Book Show, writer workshops, etc. – and all of these have been operating at diluted levels or in a digital forum. This is the area that really is missing, where people network, publishing deals are made, and writers are discovered. All of this looks to still be sluggish until springtime next year.
Self-Publishing – This won’t slow down – and may even speed up with corona, especially if publishers are delaying books or cutting down their acquisitions of new books. In such cases, where does one go but to self-publishing?
Writers – I would assume more books than usual are being written this year. What else is a writer in quarantine or voluntary isolation to do?
Amazon – While they continue to sell tons of books, especially when stores were closed and people did not want to venture out, other competitors have stepped it up, notably Walmart and Target. Best of all, Bookshop, which helps indie booksellers launch their online business, has grown wildly during the pandemic. The site serves 1,100 indie bookstores, with 400 using it exclusively to process e-commerce.
Book Marketing – Always the most important component, book marketing is even more instrumental to a book’s success when traditional routes such as bookstore and library appearances evaporate. Utilizing a professional publicist or marketer is crucial to succeed. Further, using the tools of virtual marketing – social media, blogging, podcasting, online seminars, digital courses, and zooms with bookstore patrons – are critical.
Book Publishers – The sale of Simon & Schuster has stalled out, but there is always consolidation going on amongst the big players. Look for some publishing house to get swallowed by a Big 5 publisher. Look for a talent shortage to impact the industry when it comes to editing and marketing. With shortages of everything and shipping delays and printing delays, book inflation may take hold and we could see higher book prices.
So where will book publishing be in 2022? We are still in some kind of hybrid mode with bookstore events, conferences, fairs, and conventions. We still are in a schitzoid frame of mind as to where we will feel comfortable in venturing to. We keep hoping things will return to 2019 life. Will they?
Smart book publishing over the next 6-12
months will be where we position ourselves to succeed in any environment and
not to assume anything. For all we know, a cure can be found tomorrow – or next
year could be harsher than three months ago. Our crystal ball is covered in
Covid-19 right now, but we must push forward and continue to grow all of book
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About Brian Feinblum
Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This
is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2021. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he
now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab
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