Following on from Predictions part 1, here's what our international bloggers and commentators predict for 2012:
Julieta Lionetti, publishing consultant, Argentina
- Marginalia. As a consequence of "social reading" becoming a feature in reading ecosystems, we'll see a shift to readers' generated content in the value propositions of major players and canny newcomers. Amazon's first step to monetization of the reading experience through its Kindle Lending Club (if you want to retrieve your annotations, you have to pay full price for the book you previously borrowed) is a touchstone of things to come that has been neglected by the many.
- Google eBooks will be the dark horse in the European markets. Amazon's expansion being slowed down by book fixed prices in the Continent, Google eBooks will catch up, taking advantage of ease of discoverability by readers and a policy that gives a digital opportunity to independent booksellers, preserving a much valued tissue in European culture. Google will need to fine tune and refine their offer in order to seduce independents, always reluctant to venture in e-commerce and the digital. And a big question, will Google know?
- Brazil. Against all odds, the next burgeoning digital market for books will be the South American giant. A huge domestic market; publishers owning their copyrights and being more and more digitally oriented, and an increasing development of e-commerce will help to put Brazil in the international arena. Public policies will also contribute to this development.
- Partnerships between agents and new publishing ventures will be a major trend. The need for going direct and vertical will dawn on publishers, both trad and new. Strategic agreements in order to curb monopolist retailers, who own readers data, will bring together these two traditional fighters in the distribution of book income. Pottermore is just a hyperbole of deeper forces at work.
Eoin Purcell, commissioning editor at New Island Books, Ireland
- Author/publisher power balance will shift decisively in favour of authors as digital change increases the pressure on publishers
- Increased pressure on both chain and independent booksellers as digital sales creep higher leading to more closures
- Real change
Piotr Kowalczyk, e-book commentator, Poland
Devices will no longer be in focus. 2012 will be the year of turning to content
Sebastian Posth, A2 Electronic Publishing, Germany
There will be national debates in many EU countries whether or not to apply a reduced VAT to ebooks. The current situation in most EU countries is surely not favorable for local shops and retailers.
Porter Anderson, journalist & commentator, USA
- For self publishing authors in digital: How much longer will the low-quality, quick-win self-publishing folks hang on? As quality-assurance publishing services become more available (and thus more affordable) to digital self-publishing authors -- and as leaders in the self-publishing community speak out more forcefully about the critical importance of quality work -- can the "everybody can publish!" rush continue at the crazy pace we've seen so far?
- For publishing houses in digital: How clearly can they make their case to newly empowered authors? If we look just at the top rank, the best writers -- the true professionals willing to pay top dollar for their own best quality-assurance services -- what is it going to take on the part of publishing houses to prove their worth to those authors? Is the main shift going to be increasing digital royalties? Or does it also lie in a major ramp-up of author-support services and transparency?
- And for all authors in the digital era: How clearly do they understand the various social media and their places in author-platforming? How ready are our authors to leverage the power of direct connection with readers to their own advantage? And how much of a toll will it take on an author's creative writing, itself, to access and ply these media to full advantage?
Timo Boezeman, digital publisher AW Bruna, Holland
- Amazon will come to The Netherlands and Belgium in the first half of 2012
- Amazon will do this by buying a large online retailer (for example Wehkamp.nl more here)
- Bol.com (the largest Dutch online bookstore) loses a significant market share to Apple, Kobo (just gone live by a soft launch here, official launch probably in Feb) and Amazon and might put itself up for sale
- E-books will have a market share of 5% at the end of 2012 (now it’s around 1,5%) in NL
- More bookstores will close, more publishers will fire people (NL)
- Amazon will start publishing services in other parts of the world (Europe)
Pieter Swinkels, director publisher and industry relations, Kobo, Canada
Non-English language publishers discover a new power to publish English translations. Nothing less than beginning of historic shift in 2012
Jose Furtado, member of the advisory board to the project “Digital Reading” at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Portugal
- patent wars
- lack of standards
- leadership: publishers /computer corporations
- direct 2 consumer
- self publishing
- end of the traditional value chain
- apps vs web
- curation (context & metadata)
- Amazon takes it all?
Don Linn, president at Firebrand Associates, US
Will be the year that publishers realize that their operations and "backends" need investment and attention to keep up with their new business and products. Or the nerds, geeks and dirty-fingernail men and women who make things work behind the scenes so that the shiny new products and services the public sees work when customers come a'calling. They'll be the heroes, even if largely unrecognized, this year. Publishers overlook them at their risk. More here.
Virginie Clayssen, digital strategy director, Editis, France
- Google shows more engagement in ebooks selling, Chromebook/Tablet
- Kobo still growing and competiting with Amazon worldwide
- More debates about Internet, IP, piracy, copyright (SOPA HADOPI etc.)
- Apparition of new mobile social networks (maybe books oriented)
- More bundles / short novels, more and more devices...
- But who will buy this stuff if this recession continues?
Fran Toolan, ceo at Firebrand Technologies
- The next round of publishers consolidating.
- We may see a new business model.
- Rights will be a hot topic
Jurgen Snoeren, publisher non-fiction and digital at Meulenhoff Boekerij, Holland
Predictions for Dutch Market 2012
- E-book price will be driven down gradually, by the market entrance of the big platforms. Apple has already launched, but Apple is a price follower, not a price leader. Kobo has soft launched recently and already their prices are on average 10% lower than market leaders BOL.com
- Amazon will enter the market Spring 2012, with Google not far behind. This will introduce – with the already launched Apple and Kobo – competitive cloud reading platforms that will explode the Dutch e-reading market, which at the moment is still download only.
- Amazon will take on local e-tailers and will be the leading e-book seller by the end of the year
- Tablets will overtake e-readers as reading devices. Tablet penetration in The Netherlands is the highest in the world, with estimates between 10 and 14% for the end of 2011
- The crisis in book retail will worsen in 2012. Digital publishing will further divide retailers and publishers, causing a fundamental channel conflict that will put pressure on relations within the industry
- Small publishers who fail to find bigger partners will struggle
- VAT will come down to 6%
- Even the fixed price policy will come under increasing scrutiny
- The print market will fall further, by about 6% over 2012
- Publishers and booksellers without a clear consumer strategy will struggle and many will fall
- New digital only imprints will further pull new readers into digital, with new formats and new price points
- The agency model will not hold
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