Newsletter article #4

At the end of each year publishers around the world release a summary of trends from the past year and a list of predications for the year ahead. The Literary Platform released this article at the end of 2012 and I thought it would be interesting to see how some of the most popular prophecies for 2013 are tracking so far.

The Literary Platform interviewed publishers, writers, agents, academics and literary organisations, who put forth a wide variety of predictions for 2013. These predictions ranged from claims that 2013 could be the year of the wearable gadget, to claims that smart-phone addictions will peak and publishers will need to adapt their content accordingly.

More mergers

One of the most common suggestions was that 2013 would see a rise in mergers, following the amalgamation of Random House and Penguin last year. Owned by Pearson and Bertelsmann, the newly formed Random Penguin House has secured itself the position of the world’s largest publisher. In February we heard news of a possible merger between Meredith Corporation and Time Warner, (see my blog post 2 lessons Meredith Corp’s business model has for digital publishers) however Time decided not to proceed with the union. So far that is the only big name alliance that has been proposed, however, if industry giants like Amazon continue to monopolise the publishing market, it will be interesting to see if any smaller publishers make an attempt at rivalry by combining forces. Or perhaps they will realise that big doesn’t always equal best, and the best way to take on the likes of Apple and Amazon is to beat them at their own game and embrace digital publishing alternatives.

Rush to digital

This above idea leads to the prediction that the publishing industry would continue to experience growth in the digital market. Professionals estimated that digital books would continue to rise in popularity from 2012 into 2013. As I have discussed previously (in my blog post, digital books: the question mark of the publishing industry), the big digital book retailers are yet to provide solid data to support their claims that digital book sales are increasing. They have, however, provided statistics on the growth of digital books compared to previous years. These numbers indicate a steady increase each year; for example, Amazon said their digital book sales were up 70% in 2012 on the year before. Without more comprehensive data, it is hard to gauge the accuracy of this claim. If we believe the stories retailers have been selling us all year, and it appears that most industry professionals are prepared to do so, 2013 has been a big year for digital book providers.

Surge in entrepreneurial behaviour

With the sale of all kinds of digital devices expected to peak, it was estimated that new digitally focused indies and entrepreneurial start-ups would appear rapidly in 2013. On this note the forecast was correct. So far this year we have seen hundreds of emerging tech and IT startups. Liquid State is representative of a group of organisations worldwide that are redefining the definition of what a publisher is and does.

We have identified the advantages offered to publishers by digital technology and the need to capitalize on the opportunities afforded by the broad market. We have also recognised the need to standardize digital content to enable cross platform accessibility, and have incorporated new digital and technological tools into our business models to enable our clients to create projects that are innovative, competitive and cutting edge.

Rise of self-publishing

On a similar note, self-publishing was estimated to flourish as a mainstream option for authors wanting more autonomy in the writing, editing and production process. This has certainly been the case, as evidenced by the increasing number of previously print published authors as well as first timers who are opting for the DIY model.

From Pulitzer Prize winning author David Memet, to queen of titillating blockbusters, Jackie Collins, many writers are choosing to self publish for the independence it affords them in the creative process. Rachel Van Dyken, author of the best selling digital book, The Bet, said she believed the growing trend is “mainly because of the freedom it offers you as an author. You have complete control over the entire process.” For digital publishing platforms like Liquid State, such a belief is core to our business model.

New consumption of digital content

A final popular prediction for 2013 was that publishers would construct new sustainable ways to buy and consume content. This concept incorporates notions such as e-lending, subscription services, and bundles, which so far in 2013 have generated a lot of interest (see my blog post, has digital publishing been blinded by its own potential). Amazon already provides a digital book lending service and a number of the big publishers provide customers with the option to ‘bundle’ their digital purchases with print copies.

Likewise, the claim that digital publishers and brick and mortar libraries will begin to take advantage of their innate alliance in the form of e-lending has been accurate. This article published in the Guardian discusses the financial support offered to digital libraries by the government in the UK. This allegiance ensures that libraries remain relevant in a digital age and also satisfies the trend of providing readers with even more ways to access content.

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