We’re now more than a quarter into 2013 and already there have been some significant changes and shifts in the publishing world. Barnes & Noble has been at the top of that list, first with the buy-back and now with their latest announcement that they have revamped Pub-It. Amazon, too, has made some changes including what some writers have hinted is a “phasing out” or devaluing of the KDP “free” days. Whatever they’ve actually done, many authors have posted that the program has not resulted in the same volume of paid sales following the free days as they did in 2012. Clearly, something has shifted. But Amazon, never a company to sit on its hands, also recently purchased Goodreads. On the traditional front, the big 6 continue to scramble to keep up. What does it all mean?
Mark Coker wrote a great article late last year with several publishing predictions for 2013 (full article here). Obviously, no one can perfectly predict the future but Mr. Coker has already come pretty darn close. Several things struck me when I re-read the article.
1. Mr. Coker predicted that there would be a glut of self-published books and that it would also become increasingly hard to sell those same books. I can’t say that he’s wrong. Let’s be honest. The act of self-publishing is easy. Anyone can do it. And with the media stories about self-publishing successes and sensations, more people are willing to dip their toe in the water. As the pool of self-published books swells, it becomes increasingly difficult for a single book or author to get their work noticed. This is a common theme on many writers’ forums and websites. It’s occurred to me that perhaps Amazon has been cutting revenues to sites that advertise “free” days as a way to trim some of that glut. Just a theory…
2. The international market is a wonderful opportunity for ebooks and self-publishers. It’s been reported that Apple already sells e-books (excuse me, ibooks) in 50 countries (and counting). Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble must continue to expand to other countries to catch up or they will be left behind.
3. Mr. Coker has suggested the big 6 will become the big 4. Traditional publishing is due for some re-organization and re-tooling. Publishing is a business and as such, net revenue needs to grow. The bottom line counts! Physical books are not going away but nor are they a growing share of overall book sales. Consolidation and improved long-term strategies are in order. Maybe those mergers won’t happen in 2013, but they will happen.
4. The stigma of self-publishing will continue to disappear and self-published work may be seen more in films and TV. This seems like a logical conclusion to me (I believe it’s already happening?). Just as record labels have trolled YouTube and other outlets for up and coming musicians, film companies and networks will look to well-liked self-published works for something new and creative. Hollywood loves a rags to riches story. And while it’s true that Hollywood has always had their blockbusters, it’s often the indie films that take home the prizes.
None of these predictions seem farfetched in light of the sizable ebook market and self-publishing success stories. Barnes & Noble continues to stay in the fight but it’s survival remains to be seen. We’ve already seen some significant deals and announcements in 2013 and we’re only halfway through April. There’s no question, it’s a great time to be a writer. The real question is, what can we expect for the remainder of the year?