Ten Bold Predictions for Book Publishing in 2012

This post, by Jeremy Greenfield, originally appeared on the Digital Book World site on 12/19/11.

It’s been a stormy year for book publishing, with many major players in the industry making big changes. In 2011, Amazon became a publisher, more best-selling authors sprouted out of what once was the slush pile and publishing companies migrated business from print to digital at an accelerated rate.


Some of the events of 2011 were of the “you coulda seen it coming” variety – Borders closing or Random House going to the agency pricing model. Much of it, however, was shocking – think big-six publisher HarperCollins acquiring Nashville-based Christian publisher Thomas Nelson.

Now that 2011 is coming to a close, what’s on tap for 2012?

We spoke with book industry experts, observers and players to get their bold predictions on what extraordinary events await us in the coming twelve months.

Hear more insight into the future of the book business at Digital Book World Conference + Expo 2012, this January 23-25 in New York. More>>>

1. We will see more self-published best-sellers next year with an exponential rise in the number of million-selling authors.

In November of 2011, the Kindle Million Club – a list of authors who have sold over 1 million paid copies of their books on Amazon’s Kindle store – swelled to 14 with the addition of David Baldacci, Amanda Hocking and Stephenie Meyer.

“This may have serious implications for traditional publishing houses,” said Dr. Windsor Holden, research director at Juniper Research and one of the authors of Juniper’s recent report on the future of the book publishing industry. “By facilitating publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others are eroding the position of the publisher in the value chain in much the same way Apple eroded the gate-keeping role of the carriers when it introduced the app store.”


2. Large publishing companies will go through major restructurings, creating new positions and redundancies of all shapes and sizes.

As more of what publishers do falls outside of what publishers used to spend the vast majority of their resources doing, people who work in publishing will likely have different roles, new positions or find that they are out of a job altogether.

“In 2012, we’ve had a number of years of digital under our belt,” said Peter Balis, director of digital content sales for John Wiley & Sons, the Hoboken, NJ-based professional, academic and trade publisher. “In a challenged economy, you’re going to see some big changes.”

Some of the changes might include hiring more marketers and in-house software, e-book and app developers, and slimming down sales departments and having fewer acquiring editors, according to Mike Shatzkin, a long-time book-industry expert (and, full disclosure, partner with Digital Book World on the upcoming Digital Book World Conference and Expo in January 2012).

“Print sales are going to decline and e-book sales are going to rise and that is going to result in organizational changes,” Shatzkin said.

3. Amazon will come out with a larger tablet with an 8.9-inch screen and it will be priced at $299 or lower.

The seven-inch Kindle Fire tablet has burned up the sales charts, with over 1 million per week being sold, according to Amazon. Yet, there has reportedly been some user disappointment with the product, much of it centered around a too-small screen.

“If you look at the critiques that have come in on the tablet, there have been a significant amount of users who feel the device is too small to do everything they want to do,” said Rhoda Alexander, senior manager for tablet and monitor research at IHS iSuppli, an El Segundo, Calif.-based technology research unit of global research firm IHS.

But don’t count Apple out, because…

Read the rest of the post, which includes 7 more predictions, on Digital Book World.
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