2012 publishing predictions part 1

Yes, it’s prediction time of the year. After such an amazing year for publishing and with some key issues seriously heating up, thought I’d ask our clever bloggers and twitter pals to pin down their thoughts for 2012. So many of you have given your predictions that I have broken it into 2 posts. Thank you for taking the time to do this. 

This time next year I’ll check back on this post and openly ridicule those who were off the mark and crown the person with the closest predictions the King or Queen of FutureBook. Ok, that’s not actually going to happen.

As Philip and I have worked tirelessly (!) on FutureBook this year I have given us first dibs on the predictions.

Philip Jones, deputy editor of The Bookseller/co-founder of FutureBook

  • Sales of digital products will outstrip predictions - again
  • Waterstone's will launch a re-branded Nook in the UK in partnership with Barnes & Noble - not that I think it is the best deal for either player, but it is the only deal on the table
  • Kobo will surprise us all with the breadth of its ambitions
  • Self-publishing will become a growing force in UK publishing
  • There will be a renewed battle between US and UK publishers over 'open' Europe

Sam Missingham, co-founder of FutureBook

  • At least one totally new entrant into market with deep pockets (probably out of Silicon Valley)
  • Amazon will lose some e-book market share but still totally dominant
  • Apple will sort out the app store, delivering a slick interface for finding apps etc (but not sort out the iBookStore)
  • Books and games will move closer together in lots of ways
  • A new raft of words will emerge (like gamification)
  • Marketing, marketing, marketing

Jonny Geller, literary agent, Curtis Brown

  • Much depends on the expected Kindle/Kobo bonanza this Xmas, but one thing is certain - ebook sales are not going to decrease.
  • I predict the big brands in fiction will benefit most in this first wave; and new, cheaply priced debut fiction and backlist will benefit too. Publishers will invest more in direct to consumer sales and marketing and retailers and readers will still need their filter to discern what book to buy.
  • Agents will reconfigure, consolidate and provide a more transparent set of services to their authors, but every career writer will need their agent- even more so!

John Pettigrew, Senior Managing Editor, Education, CUP

  • Business models begin to coalesce around a few preferred options
  • One or two of our favourite startups hit the big time and everyone gets excited
  • Amazon, Apple and some of the publishers get hit with government penalties over price-fixing on ebooks

Simon Appleby, Founder of BookSwarm

  • Significant eBook growth to represent at least 20% of sales for trade publishers by the end of the year
  • Resurgence at Waterstones, compounding the difficulties of the remaining independent retailers
  • Amazon losing market share in eBook market

Peter Cox, literary agent, RedHammer Management

  • Our understanding of the relative positioning of physical vs. virtual will deepen.  It is not a simple "either/or" relationship.  Strategic publishing decisions will be taken to maximise profitability straddling both sectors.
  • Older publishing CEOs will all decide to gracefully retire!  Since many of them have to employ an assistant to use their Blackberries, this is a Good Thing. 

Peter Collingridge, Co-founder at Enhanced Editions

  • Amazon will absolutely kill it in a way that will make us nostalgic for the simplicity of 2011. The Fire will be quickly updated and improved and will (as did the Kindle) steadily develop visible market share that Amazon will not release figures for. 
  • Nook will launch in the UK, either with Waterstones, or without them. If it's without, then Waterstones will be under intense pressure to deliver on the launch of their device both in terms of timing, and user experience. Their execution will be a defining moment for them. 
  • Amazon will become more and more like a publisher, making some outrageously high-profile hires, growing its publishing, and ultimately buying a mid-size, big name publisher, probably in the US first but possibly in the UK.
  • (big) publishers will become more and more like Amazon, moving sharply towards being consumer- and data-centric. They will start by making some very smart marketing hires to bridge the gap between B2B and B2C. The new hires will focus on consumer activity, and will do a lot of data-driven analysis on (among other things) price and marketing tactics. These hires *won't* come from the music industry. Consumer marketing will quickly move towards the measurable, dynamic environments of digital, and publishers will invest heavily both in data capture and insight. 
  • Some of the price-fixing mud being slung around agency on both sides of the atlantic will stick to someone big and take them down
  • Digital will wreak havoc in mainland Europe (where publishers also own bookshops) but the publishers will be better prepared for it from having seen (and talked with) what has happened here and in the US. (A bit like watching your friends have kids first.) Amazon will gain huge market share, Apple will struggle to keep up with local language coverage, and Google will remain in the background.

Baldur Bjarnason

  • Improved high res tablets will begin to break apart Amazon, B&N's and Kobo's hardware as distribution strategy.
  • Ebook prices will continue to be driven down by new entrants (self-pubs + small pubs). Big publishers and many writers will continue to be idiots and blame the readers for the price slide.
  • IMO, Amazon's role in the price slide is primarily in enabling new entrants, and even then they've worked hard to limit it (like only offering a 35% revenue share on ebooks cheaper than $2.99 and not letting self-publishers offer free books).

Dan Franklin, digital publisher, Random House

  • Building on the forays into short-form ebook publishing undertaken for fiction and non-fiction we've seen from companies big and small, old and young, I expect (along with a widening and deepening of the general ebook market) that shortform digital publishing will take off.
  • Expect more short stories, serial and episodic approaches, journalism, and a return to the pamphleteering days of old.

Charles Catton, Publishing Manager, Amber Books

  • Amazon will give Kindles free to Prime subscribers next year (the ad edition of the Kindle)
  • VAT issue on ebooks will be important issue in the New Year - will hit UK-based retailers if govt doesn't react.
  • Increased cross-pollination between publishing and other media industries in terms of both project collaboration and staffing 
  • Google and Facebook launch tablets.
  • The markets in China & South America will maintain strong growth.
  • More tension between publishers and authors/agents as former ask for world rights - slicing the copyright pie will become less common

Nick Harkaway, author

  • Distributed sales - readers able to recommend books to others & get a small cut. Killer app of publishing! 
  • Oh, and: first major defections over electronic royalties! 




An interesting possibility nobody mentions is that international publishers start publishing in the English language digital market.

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