Future shocks: Mega-mergers, B2C, tablets and the next 12 months

“It’s becoming harder to define what ‘publishing’ really is. One speaker at Futurebook 2012 commented that publishers have less in common with each other than ever before, and she’s right. It’s becoming one great big sloppy  soup of a business in which boundaries and, indeed, rules disappear. That’s scary for some, exciting for others. I believe 2013 will be the year of the publishing entrepreneur. I expect to be thrilled, shocked and astonished.  Motto for the year—go for it!”
Peter Cox, agent and founder of the agency Redhammer

“More consolidation between publishers. And agencies. Booksellers will look less uniform and more like booksellers. Kobo and others will make more of an impact in the market. Big authors will get bigger, but smaller authors won’t get smaller—they will be shouting louder and some will be heard, in a surprising way.”
Jonny Geller, managing director, books, Curtis Brown

“Last year was the year Google settled with the AAP over their book initiative. They have a presence on almost every platform and device; vast numbers of people use and trust their services every day (I wouldn’t mind giving  Google my payment details); and they have cloud synching of files and bookmarks nailed. They’ve been rather written off, but they could now become a contender again.”
Stephen Page, chief executive and publisher, Faber

“I fully expect further challenges to public libraries with more closing, to the detriment of their communities. Hopefully, libraries and publishers will be able to work together productively to promote e-reading and more e-book sales. Consequently there will be an even more enthusiastic uptake of e-books than we’ve seen previously (both borrowed and bought), but a downturn in sales of e-book readers as more people use small tablet devices.”
Phil Bradley, president, CILIP

“Next year will see more writers, published and unpublished, choosing the self-publishing option and a growth in the ‘hybrid’ author, who uses trade publishers for selected projects, self-publishing for others. I also expect to see a surge in author collectives and a revitalisation of independent bookstores, as they begin to work out how to partner with indie authors and profit from e-books.”
Orna Ross, founder, the Alliance of Independent Authors

“We will see the first signs of the stock market losing faith in Amazon as profits will continue to be non-existent in the two sectors where it has spent the most money: Kindle and Amazon Web Services. The Kindle will never gain the same dominance in tablets that it had in e-ink hardware and more and more people will switch to reading on their tablets and phones.”
Baldur Bjarnason, interactive media expert, publisher

“Obvious, but at least one more mega-merger among big publishers. Open Access will be further mandated by research funders, also possibly by government. Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play and Sony all grow strongly; but Kindle remains the dominant platform. Distance between novels and games narrows. We will probably see the first major move in the shift from being B2B to B2C sellers from some publishers. Android app market starts to seriously catch up with iOS. This time it will be true, honest.”
Michael Bhaskar, digital publishing director, Profile Books

“Following the Penguin Random House merger approval more mergers will happen. HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster could happen soon as well as Hachette and Pan Macmillan. This is because ‘big shoulders’ will become increasingly important in a future crowded by self-publishing on the one hand and Amazon, Apple and Google on the other. E-books will continue growing as it’s still an early adopter market, especially in Europe, but early signs of ‘cooling off’ will start to show.”
Matteo Berlucchi, former chief executive of Anobii

“We will see a shift towards customised, non-standard contracts with authors/illustrators who come to the table with a self-published history, ready-made fan bases and mature social-media accounts that will be viewed as assets alongside their works. Publishers will begin to consider audio downloads as a core part of their digital offering. Children’s e-publishing will stop being so young adult-dominated as old devices are handed on through the family when new ones are bought.”
Lisa Edwards, publishing and commercial director, Scholastic

“Having been outgunned in the Christmas sales, Microsoft will rethink [its tablet] Surface RT and focus on the more powerful Windows 8. Publishers will rush to adopt direct to consumer marketing skills and at the same time try to grab control back from the big online retailers. Readers’ expectations will rise and poorly digitised books will fail.”
Richard Stephenson, chief executive, YUDU Media

“More incremental change as publishing continues to try to make cautious progress into the digital realm, and meanwhile more disruptive change as the digital world explodes all over the place and tries things out, fails spectacularly, and tries again. Further attempts by Amazon to create and own a digital lending market. Paper sales will fall, digital sales will rise, device prices will sink and more devices will be given away.”
Nick Harkaway, author

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