Publishing 2020: an Advent Calendar of change

In the run up to Publishing: the next 5 years, BookMachine will be featuring a number of opinions about what might be next for the industry. This is a guest blog from Christopher Norris. Chris is editor and development executive for the Insight Film Festival. He also freelances as CopyGhosting Editorial Services. You can follow Chris on Twitter (@InsightFF and @chris24n) and keep up to date with the Insight Film Festival via the website’s news and blog items that he writes, edits and/or curates.

As BookMachine celebrates 5 years of gazing into the book trade crystal ball, here is a personal collection of suggestions to generate debate that may happen if publishing ‘turkeys’ react positively to media trends and finally ‘vote for Christmas’:

  1. Amazon will become transparent about publishing sales statistics – or else a competitor/hacker will take market share by doing so (h/t Tech in Asia, Kitabain in Pakistan; Sierra Vista Herald, Amazon culture cartoon)
  2. Jeff Bezos will be slow to embrace the next disruptive media shift, like Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates before him, and waste time on geeky side projects (h/t Fast Company, the science behind broken work cultures; Denver Post, drone cartoon)
  3. There will be convergence between film and books via a disruptive series of apps and new companies (h/t Wall Street Journal > CIO Journal, techs impact on media; Macquarie University, convergence cartoon)
  4. Ebooks will become much more interactive (h/t Digital Book World, Blackwell’s ebook press release; Prospect, interactive ebook cartoon)
  5. Copyright will come under even more threat (h/t EurActiv.com, Carole Tongue interview; Ted Goff, copyright cartoon)
  6. Curation will make a huge comeback, so editorial judgment (in publishing companies, blogs and apps) will be vital (h/t Huffington Post, the curation explosion; Open Colleges > InformED, curation cartoon)
  7. Publishing will become a networked, online cottage industry (h/t Tech Times, Sasha Matthews interview; CartoonStock, cottage industry cartoon)
  8. Analytics will be seen to be limited in their ability to predict bestsellers (h/t Association for Talent Development, smart data analytics; eQuest, analytics cartoon)
  9. Recommendation engines will get more sophisticated (h/t Business Standard, Bill Roberts interview; KDnuggets, recommendations cartoon)
  10. Short stories will revive, delivered by smartphone and tablets (h/t PCMagazine, Flipagram app review; LovinggoodMSDigiTools > Randy Glasbergen, short stories cartoon)
  11. Fiction will be written (mostly ghostwritten) by vloggers, bloggers, ‘X Factor’ contestants and web filmmakers (Telegraph, Zoella novel was ghostwritten; Jantoo, ghostwriting cartoon)
  12. Fiction projects will launch simultaneously in different media – film, game, book, app, ebook, web, theme park experience, etc. (Los Angeles Times, Disney’s Star Wars marketing campaign; Andertoons, intellectual property cartoon)
  13. Novels will be published in instalments online with payment by the chapter (h/t Washington Post, the serialised novel; CartoonStock, serialised fiction cartoon)
  14. There will be a reactionary boost in hardback literary fiction – like lovers of vinyl records (h/t New York Times, the creative apocalypse that wasn’t; CartoonStock, literary criticism cartoon
  15. Creatives will have talent patrons, not literary agents – although patrons will employ people with literary agency skills (h/t The Independent, bring back the patron; CartoonStock, artistic patron cartoon)
  16. Marketing will replace sales as the driver of content (h/t Marketing Land, jump-start your content marketing; Domino Theory, marketing cartoon)
  17. Publishing dates will become coordinated online launches, backed with huge marketing budgets – deals between sales teams and distributors/retailers will disappear (h/t Flix Premiere, ‘Democratize Cinema’ campaign; Phase2 Technology, online launch cartoon)
  18. Creatives will film 2-minute elevator pitches to upload YouTube/Vimeo, with or without publishers. This will replace the writing of synopses (h/t ChicagoNow, create a great elevator speech; Andertoons, elevator pitch cartoon)
  19. 3D printing at home will become the default method of publishing paperbacks (h/t Yahoo Canada News > Daily Brew, library innovations; Royston Cartoons, 3D printing cartoon)
  20. Creatives will make the majority of their income from non-writing activities: e.g. public speaking, workshops, lecturing, teaching, crowdfunding style perks (h/t Cinema Blend, Lord of the Rings superfans crowdfunding campaign; CartoonStock, crowdfunding cartoon)
  21. Piracy will be officially rebranded as marketing (h/t TouchArcade, Noodlecake pirates its own game; Mimi and Eustace, piracy cartoon)
  22. Creatives (and readers) will see their writing and their social media footprint as expressions of creatives’ personalities (h/t Entrepreneur, stop listening to ‘them’; Small & Big, personality cartoon)
  23. There will be at least one leading company in publishing in 2020 that has yet to be launched (h/t Smithers Pira, publishing trends to 2020; Andertoons, forecasting cartoon
  24. None, some, or all of the above will come true – the only inevitable outcome is that the publishing trade will look very different.

Having 2020 vision (let alone the 20/20 version) is, of course, well nigh impossible. As Marshall McLuhan famously said, in The Medium is the Massage, ‘We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.’ But will we, like the Nigel Sutherland CartoonStock 20/20 cartoon, be able to tell on the optician’s Snellen chart when ‘Printed in China’ is ‘spelled incorrectly’?

The future has already begun.

– Join us for ‘Publishing: the next 5 years’ in London, Oxford, Cambridge UK, or NYC.

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Chris has had a 25-year media career, he has worked in book publishing, television, online media and film. He served on the steering community for World Book Day in its inaugural year, was publishing consultant for the ITV book series You’re Booked! and editorial director for the fiction recommendation engine StoryCode.com. He once featured in the fashion pages of the Evening Standard having dressed in black tie for a James Bond convention at the ICA – all the other delegates wore jeans and t-shirts.

Comments

  1. Christopher Norris

    Please feel free to add your thoughts. The idea behind the article is to generate a conversation, as everyone will see different parts of the overall picture. Everyone’s views are equally valid. I look forward to being part of the debate.

  2. Sherri Browning

    Interesting predictions, Christopher. I do see a trend toward shorter content and serialized publication starting to take off. I’d better start working on my public speaking.

    1. Christopher Norris

      Thanks, Sherri, for your thoughts. It will be interesting to see how your writing output changes (if at all) from full-length novels… and what the reading public is prepared to pay for in 2020.

  3. Sarah Tun

    Fun and interesting. I particularly like the notion of patrons – #15 (Where’s mine?) and don’t particularly like the thought that authors will make more money from sources other than writing – #20 though for many it’s already truth. Elevator pitches vs synopses: yes, isn’t that already true for many?

    Best to you!

    1. Christopher Norris

      Thanks for your input and support, Sarah. Here is some additional flesh to the points you raise, in the order in which you raised them:

      #15: I see the development of crowdfunding as a kind of “cooperative patronage”. Any reversion to this idea will have a 21st-century flavour. Some publishing enterprises already have this business model (e.g. Unbound > https://unbound.co.uk/books). My vision of patronage is along the lines of art collectors, except that investment and a slice of the profits will be supporting writers to have what Virginia Woolf called “a room of one’s own and £500 a year”.

      #20: Nicholas Lovell’s book, THE CURVE (Penguin, 2013), predicts this. Books will simply be one income stream, one that may be free given that people’s attention is a finite resource much in demand. Like the music industry, book publishing will have to go through a period of price experimentation and promotional ingenuity to find out how much readers in future are prepared to pay for books (if anything) given the fact that so much art, culture and entertainment is available digitally without upfront payment.

      #18: We are all so time-poor these days – and our attention spans so short – that visual media are replacing literary forms. While the synopsis will remain an important element of an author’s package for promoting a work (say, to a publisher or agent), the 2-minute video pitch will be ever more important in a world where authors need to be comfortable with digital media and with presenting themselves and their work visually. Film contests, for example, now exist where the content that is entered for competition is the 2-minute video pitch, rather than the film itself (e.g. The Pitch > http://www.enterthepitch.com). By 2020, authors will be just as much stars of YouTube and Vimeo and they are for publishing imprints, as readers wish to engage with writers personally as well as with their books.

  4. Holly Michael

    Interesting and really agree with #16. Marketing is everything and so time consuming and ever changing. It’s hard to keep up with the changes. Thanks for giving us your insight.

    1. Christopher Norris

      Thanks for your kind words, Holly. My reasoning behind #16 is simply that it is getting progressively harder these days for any given book to get noticed by readers, who have many different claims on their attention and their time. Sales is only an indication of current value to consumers as well as past performance of similar titles; sales describe the past, whether remote history or recent events. Marketing captures a vision of the future that can engage consumers and make them want to read the book. Hollywood film studios have known this for decades. Marketing is the only way of getting a book recognised and valued in the marketplace. Social media are, of course, hugely important elements of the marketing mix.

  5. Jon Collins

    Pretty comprehensive! The only item I wonder is missing is the resurgence of locally situated printers – for example, replacing the stock rooms of book shops. It’s an idea, not a trend but it fits with other industries.

    1. Christopher Norris

      Hi Jon. Thanks for your feedback and for your suggestion. Locally situated printers? Why not, if the financials work! Domestic 3D printers may not be affordable in the short-to-medium term for many households, so the next generation of “Prontoprint > http://www.prontaprint.com” style high-street shops may provide 3D-printing and other just-in-time printing services in the same way as people in recent times paid retailers for photocopying and for processing photographic film. Other online services may evolve on the “Vistaprint model > http://www.vistaprint.co.uk“, where 3D printed books could be customised (e.g. built-in book plates defining ownership; variations on book covers).

      1. Jon Collins

        I think it’s inevitable. Small businesses based on lower-cost equipment are booming – think micro-breweries. There is a play for locally situated SMBs who invest in a piece of kit then provide local services, particularly when there is an additional overhead of expertise – for publishing, layout for example. I know a printing business that has invested in a top-end label printer, works for local producers of artisan foods among others. All part of the new ecosystem.

        1. Christopher Norris

          Yes, I can see this working in areas with a catchment of authors wishing to self-publish in paperback and where readers wish to own paperback copies of ebooks of out-of-print texts and/or paper copies of online reports.

  6. Christopher Norris

    Here is an edited transcript of an email conversation I had regarding my article with Peter Rubie, CEO of the New York literary agency, FinePrint Literary Management :

    PR: Not sure I buy about half of this. The interactive book for example, has a very limited appeal to readers unless it is mainly nonfiction and mainly prescriptive. Woodworking, cooking, medical technqiues, some text books with embedded lectures etc. But that will be a small part of the market.. Otherwise, it is all or none of the above. We could discuss endlessly and your views are just as good as anyone else’s.

    CN: Thanks so much for your feedback … Really interesting perspective. I agree with you that no one knows anything and that everyone’s views are equally valid… I’m very interested in your comments about interactive books. I agree the technology remains limited that makes the prospect of reading interactive fiction seem dull and unnecessarily complex… I’m interested in marginalia, however, and the fact that Samuel T Coleridge gave up writing poetry because he made loads of money writing in other people’s books… So, interactive books of this type were popular in the early 19th century. I can imagine a time when, say an ebook novel by Stephen King was published with marginalia by the director of The Shawshank Redemption with the possibility of reader comments being added to the mix… Such a development may not seem mass-market but the reading public is in flux and native ebook readers will eventually be in the majority… I’m delighted you only agreed with half the suggestions. That suggests the balance of predictability is okay.

    PB: I’d make an argument that “futurism” can ead one down the path where “gadgets” tend to win out over the more subtle concepts of considering human nature. There is research about non-fiction ebooks, for example, that I quote here being much harder to learn from than print books. There’s also the whole concept of “scrolling” – harking back to pre-Guttenberg linear learning, rather than post-Guttenberg non-linear learning. I know you can simulate that with hyperlinks, but it’s noit really the same thing… The truth is, most people DON’T WANT tarted-up books. The printed book is arguably the pinnacle of its technological development, and that is why it is still so successful and popular. Movies are movies and are passive “learning” experiences. Reading is an “active” experience and thus the two things are not really compatable except in specific circumstances… But I’m likely very wrong. I’m reminded of an NPR interview Oliver Sachs gave about his “Awakening” patients. One, Rose, was 64 when she work up, and while she knew about WWII and Kennedy and all that, it wasn’t real to her. She still felt it was 1926 when she suffered from encephalitus and went to sleep. The point being, when awake she told him she knew how old she was etc., but just did not like the TV world of 1968 she “woke up” into.

    CN: Hi Peter. Very interesting, thank you… I remember talking to Peter Kindersley at a DK launch party in 1995 – when I worked on the TV book series, “You’re Booked!” . Peter’s company was launching the first encyclopaedic CD-ROM titles. He was adamant that the book was dead and that CD-ROMs would take over the world. It would be really interesting to find out what Peter Kindersley thinks now… Thanks for sharing the Lincoln Square blog article – a really interesting read. I have the same feeling of comfort as you from the physical presence of books: someone once gave me a Kindle, but I don’t use it – simply because an ereader can’t do anything I’m interested in that a paperback can’t do, and I appreciate given my eyes a rest from looking at screens. There is only one wall in my entire flat that is not adorned by at least one shelf full of books. I’m with Marco in Paul Auster’s “Moon Palace” as he uses his dead uncle’s book collection as furniture.

    PB: Thanks. Now ebooks are great when you’re travelling. Last year I went to England with my 12-year-old son. I brought my Sony reader (mark 3) and loaded it with tons of books for his summer reading and fun reading, and he took it everywhere with him. But, at home, he reads only paper books. The beauty of the Sony is that you can’t play games or go online, or do any of that fancy stuff. It just replicates a book, full stop.

    CN: I’ve really enjoyed this conversation, Peter. Thank you.

  7. Christopher Norris

    Here is another edited transcript of an email conversation I had regarding my article with Stephany Evans, President of the New York literary agency, FinePrint Literary Management

    SE: So, I’ve read your predictions for 2020 – to be honest, I couldn’t even get past your opening without asking a question. Is “turkeys” a term of art? What about “vote for Christmas”? I didn’t actually get that. Must be an English thing? … In truth, I have nothing to add to this very interesting list. I’m sure many authors would love it if #15 were to come true (about patrons)! #20 (non-writing income) seems like it would be a supreme hassle for a writer. #18 (film clips) seems like another supreme hassle for either an agent or editor – I suggest it is far easier to tell in a couple of sentences of writing (or even less) whether one is interested or not. I can’t imagine having to watch a 2-minute clip and then have to discern whether it’s the idea that sucks, the production values, or just the acting/presenting – let alone whether or not that individual could actually write! … The eventuality I’d most like to see from this list is #1 (Amazon sales figures) – some transparency would be nice. I pay a huge annual fee for my subscription to Bookscan, but it’s so limited in its actual value – not everyone reports to it, and it says ZERO about digital book sales. So my vote would be for a start-up to track those digital numbers somehow, but much of that is “owned” by Amazon – so it would definitely have to be hackers; there’s no way Amazon would part with that information voluntarily, except for their own benefit maybe… Anyway, an impressive effort on your part – you are much more the visionary than I am. I just show up on the day and try to figure out what’s going on!

    CN: Great to hear from you, Steph. I hope life and work are going well and that you have some really exciting authors and projects to work with at the moment…. Thanks for spending time reading my article so thoughtfully and for sending such terrific feedback. Here are some further comments for clarification in the order of the points you raise.

    Opening sentence – Yes, this must be an Anglo-English idiom. We use the proverb “Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas” when we mean people do nothing that is against their self-interest and/or survival – in the case of the proverb turkeys end up in ovens and then on people’s dinner plates. I guess, “Turkeys don’t vote for Thanksgiving” would work better as a proverb in the USA? 🙂

    #15 (Patrons) – I was thinking hear about what’s been happening in the music industry over many years with mixed results (e.g. Celebrity bonds and long-term deals: David Bowie; Robbie Williams). The internet could play fast and loose with copyright, so we could find ourselves back in a pre-Berne Convention world where creatives relied on rich patrons for their daily crust. The 21st-century version would likely be venture capitalists or large companies, perhaps even with the kind of tax breaks offered to investors in films. Crowdfunding can be seen as a form of patronage. The downside of this kind of investment is that it skews the creative work that gets funded towards the personal tastes of the patrons. We have to ensure that creatives always have the freedom to create the work they want to make, including great novels, children’s books and non-fiction titles.

    #20 (Income for creatives) – This point is the central idea of Nicholas Lovell’s fabulous book, The Curve: From Freeloaders into Superfans: The Future of Business, which suggests creatives will have to sing for their suppers in many different ways (see Curve graphic). Lovell gives loads of examples where this is already happening and the Curve graphic shows how he supplements his own writing with non-writing activities.

    #18 (2-minute elevator pitches) – I agree pitching via YouTube and other media is a hassle, but it is happening already (e.g. Unbound Books; The Pitch film competition; book crowdfunding in general)

    #1 (Amazon stats) – I’m fairly confident that Amazon will have to reform their sales stats policy by 2020. If they don’t they will (a) get hacked; (b) lose market share to other online booksellers; or (c) get sued. Their current position is not tenable and the legality of how they operate re sales stats will be brought into question. Amazon, Google and the like have huge questions to answer about their tax positions, of course, and I further predict that there will be a big crackdown internationally on multinational companies that don’t pay enough tax.

    Thanks so much for your feedback, Steph. The advantage I have is simply that I’m once stepped removed from the chalk face you face every day. I have the luxury of seeing the big picture through the blogging and social media work I do for the Insight Film Festival, but lack the detailed insight busy literary agents like you gain from working daily with authors and publishers. I guess that’s why it’s interesting to see what kind of response articles like this receive.

  8. Stephanie Cox
    Stephanie Cox

    I love this post; especially interested in the point about publishing becoming a ‘cottage industry’. Can’t help but feel that this would inject even more passion into the industry that there is already. Also of interest to me is the idea of novels being published in instalments online – one thinks of the works of Charles Dickens and Stephen King which became phenomenons after being published in instalments. Such an interesting read.

    Glad to have met you online, Christopher, and finding out more about what you do.

    1. Christopher Norris

      Hi Stephanie.

      Thanks for your enthusiasm and insight. The #7 window (cottage industry) reflects the fact that expensive real-estate for corporate HQ premises is no longer necessary for book trade companies in 2020.

      Companies will be smaller units that integrate with other enterprises with complementary skills to present flexible and robust publishing solutions for authors, readers and retailers (e.g. Lincoln Square Books [New York City]: http://lincolnsquarebooks.com).

      Authors will increasingly purchase off-the-peg publishing services for self-publishing their work (e.g. Xana Publishing and Marketing [Sydney, Australia]: http://www.xanamarketing.com).

      Also, software like IDEO’s OI Engine provide innovative platforms for dispersed workers to set internal creative challenges to work towards common goals. In other words, project planning and workflow processes are becoming virtual, intuitive and flexible.

      Hierarchical structures in multinational companies will survive but they will not be able to react as quickly to market demands, so reorganisations are inevitable for staff to work in smaller, semi-autonomous, cohesive teams that will be increasingly virtual. Imprints will have even more freedom to project their own personalities and brands, developing further as micro units within the macro whole.

      As for splitting works into paid instalments (window #13), this is already happening:

      * Many companies offer free first chapters (e.g. Ether Books: http://www.etherbooks.com).

      * Blogs are great platforms for publishing serialised fiction (e.g. https://janefriedman.com/serial-fiction-changing-publishing/).

      * Fan fiction appears online everywhere (e.g. WattPad: https://www.wattpad.com/stories/fanfiction)

      * Fiction is increased serialised via social media (e.g. David Mitchell’ short story on Twitter: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/09/the-rise-of-twitter-fiction/404761/)

      The finite resource in 2020 will continue to be reader attention. As now, there will be too much published material for people to read. This means marketing and promotion need to become more sophisticated as they become the main drivers of content, making readers aware that content exists (see window #16).

      A key challenge in 2020 will be getting the balance between paid content and free content right in publishing plans, to get people reading their works. Answers to this challenge will be individual to each book – based on the personality projection and brand of author and title – and will derive from rich conversations online via social media, blogs and email, to determine the collective moods, tastes and desires of the reading public.

  9. Christopher Norris

    Great article published at Econsultancy on 18 September 2015, ‘How to build interactive ebooks for lead generation’: http://bit.ly/Econ_eBkLeadGen. Content at the cusp of marketing delivery today will be everyday reading experience tomorrow. #4 (interactive ebooks) looks like catching on sooner rather than later.

  10. Christopher Norris

    Anyone interested in knowing how a bunch of eminent academics and policymakers foresee the future of the book trade should follow discussions and papers flowing from the “4th International Summit of the Book” (6-7 November 2015) and the “World Digital Library (WDL) Annual Meeting” (5-6 November 2015), both of which are being hosted by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt: press release http://bit.ly/BiblioAlexConf.

    You can follow these events by checking into Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s social media: Facebook http://bit.ly/FB_BiblioAlex ; Twitter @BA_News_Events https://twitter.com/ba_news_events

  11. Clarence Fusilier

    As someone who appreciates and loves writing short stories, nothing would make me happier than seeing more of what you mentioned in #10. Great piece, Mr. Norris. Thank you!

    1. Christopher Norris

      Hi Clarence,

      Thanks for posting your comment. The finite resource of which there is a great shortage these days is “attention”, both in terms of attention span and in getting anyone’s attention in the first place. Short stories delivered via media that readers use all the time have a great opportunity to break into peoples’ consciousness, to have the chance of being gifted an opportunity to be read.

      Of course, once someone decides to read a story, the content needs to be compelling and beautifully written to hold people’s attention. Marketing and ease of distribution are key. There are plenty of enterprises trying to fill this space (e.g. Ether Books: http://www.etherbooks.com) in addition to large, long-established publishing houses.

  12. David Wardrop

    All this will certainly change the face of airport bookstalls, Chris!

  13. Christopher Norris

    Today I am adding a threaded email conversation between me and Tim Rawe, Head of eLearning at Bancroft’s School in Essex . Tim is at the sharp end of professional consumers who use the products and services that book publishers and the wider media industry create:

    TR: I really enjoyed the post – some provocative ideas for sure. Note sure about the interactive content ideas, as from my own experience with eLearning products the real showstopper here is publishers (in the widest sense) struggling to agree formats, which then limits development of apps…

    I particularly liked the curation ideas – always heartening to see human beings trumping tech!

    CN: Thanks for your positive feedback… I agree that publishing formats for ebooks and apps are short-term issues but, in the long run, history shows that Betamax/VHS-type battles get resolved

    Interactive content is a holy grail for creatives, especially video producers, who smell an opportunity. There will be plenty of experimentation and – yes – plenty of failure, but it won’t stop people trying. By 2020, we may see some form of interactive ebooks hitting the mainstream.

    Curation is a huge issue. Robotic recommendations – if overused – can come across as spam (e.g. Amazon recommendations sent via email based on previous purchases). There is nothing better than a friend who’s tastes you trust recommending a book to read or a film to watch. Publishers and filmmakers would love some of this old-fashioned word-of-mouth magic to rub of onto their books and films.

  14. Christopher Norris

    Here is an example of an author who has taken #16 (Market as the driver of content) and #22 (Writing and social media as an expression of personality) to her heart with positive results.

    Dr Kathy McCoy is a prolific author of titles on a range of themes relating to psychological wellbeing. Her success in the marketplace is determined by the depth and scope of her media penetration and audience reach.

    Kathy explains in a recent article on her blog, Living Fully in Midlife and Beyond (‘The Joy of New Pursuits’ http://bit.ly/DrKMcCJoyOfNew), that her fluency in promoting herself and her work has not always been so seamless.

    The article explains how Kathy built a media ‘platform’, with the support and encouragement of her agent (Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management http://fineprintlit.com) and with the digital experience and technical knowledge of June Clark, Get There Media http://www.gettheremedia.com. The hub of Kathy’s universe is her website http://www.drkathymccoy.com, which is in a dynamic, symbiotic relationship with her social media, journalism and broadcasting outlets. Kathy is making a go of proving #20 (Earning from non-writing related activity) correct, too.

    The blog article http://bit.ly/DrKMcCJoyOfNew is an encouragement to authors who may be reluctant to engage with digital media. The bottom line line is that writers’ incomes will fade away without making use of all the social media resources and web tools at their disposal. Kathy’s experience is a beacon of hope to writers who fear taking baby steps towards a digital future.

  15. Christopher Norris

    David Benigson, CEO Signal http://signal.uk.com (the market intelligence company), shared his five predictions for the future of the wide world of publishing in The Guardian on 12 October 2015: http://bit.ly/GdnDB5publ … Here is my take on what David’s predictions mean for book publishing:

    1. There will be more deals between publishers and tech companies

    Book publishers will need new ways in order to reach their audiences while retaining their core strength of providing compelling content. Publishers will realise the limits of their skill sets and competencies to find their level in the new market ecosystem

    2. Apple faces a tough fight with Facebook

    The key word here is “personalisation” – the more personal an experience, the more often people will revisit and give their attention to a platform. Book publishers need to find new ways of communicating the personalised nature of their content, to increase the granularity of understanding how to get the right books into the right people’s hands. Social media and analytics are key to engaging in meaningful conversations with readers.

    3. All content will be personalised

    As book publishers get to know their readers even better, there will be a positive spiral of commissioning titles that truly reflect the desires, interests and needs of their core audience. With reference to George Walkley’s talk at the Book Machine birthday bash on 24 September http://bit.ly/BMpubl2020party and to Donald Rumsfeld, publishers will learn more about the ‘unknown knowns’ and the ‘known unknowns’ of the relationship with the readers of their authors’ books.

    4. Quality journalism will continue to thrive; paywalls may prosper

    Timely, well-structured, beautifully written books with fabulous production values will always be in demand by readers. Book publishers will continue to explore free and freemium sales, marketing and distribution models to increase purchases and improve profits.

    5. New media companies will continue to attract investment

    Book publishers that engage will new media in innovative ways to design new, compelling business models will also continue to attract investment. As the product curve shifts towards ‘free’, book publishers will be forced to adapt to new digital environments to secure their positions in the marketplace.

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