Seeing as though 2012 is just about over, we’ve gathered more publishing experts to predict what extraordinary events are to come in book publishing in 2013.
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2. 2013 will be the year of the enhanced ebook.
“Every year, we say this is going to be the year of the enhanced ebook,” said Wiley’s director of digital business development Peter Balis. “But in the second half of this year you’re going to see a significant number of titles with robust interactivity in areas like test prep and other non-fiction categories.”
The enhanced ebook has been the next big thing for several years running now, but it just hasn’t gained the traction that its immersive reading counterpart has. There have been some hits, like Hyperion’s Jacqueline Kennedy Enahnced eBook from 2011, but they have been few and far between.
So why this year?
First, “there will be an increased appetite for illustrated and nonfiction books that did not sit well on e-readers,” said Jo Henry, director of Bowker Market Research, a book-focused research firm.
Second, more people will have the devices that make reading enhanced ebooks pleasurable with the precipitous rise of tablets.
And, third, more publishers will be producing the kind of content for those devices that people want to read.
“There will be more enhanced ebooks by far in 2013 than there were in 2012,” said David Wilk, publishing consultant and provider of publishing services through his firm Booktrix.
3. The $0 Kindle.
It’s a prediction that we made last year, but this year will finally be the year that we see a free e-reader, specifically a free Kindle.
For Amazon, it’s not just about getting more customers for its content ecosystem but about keeping the e-ink e-reader device manufacturers in business.
Forrester’s McQuivey explains:
“We’re now starting to see shipments go down for e-readers. The devices and components that go into them – the people that do the building and assembly, the people that do e-ink – there is good evidence that they’re getting fewer orders. If you’re amazon, you want those devices to still be out there. They create customer stickiness that you want.”
That said, the e-reader that you get for free isn’t going to be top-of-the-line.
“If you want a nice [Kindle] Paperwhite, that’s going to cost you money, but if you want the cheapest, smallest device, they’ll give it away for free,” said McQuivey.
It’s not so far-fetched. After all, this year did see the invention of the $13 e-reader.
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6. Ebook marketing will be completely re-thought.
“Conventional trade book marketing at established, general publishers is going to be completely re-thought,” said publishing consultant and Digital Book World Conference + Expo partner Mike Shatzkin. “It has always been title-specific and publishing-date centric and it won’t be anymore.”
The way book marketing worked before the rise of digital marketing and ebooks was (roughly), that a book would have a pre-publication push that included publicity and advertising; after publication, it would receive more of the same for a set period of time; and then it would be left to fare on its own until sales petered out enough so that stores stopped stocking it as consistently. And then it would be relegated to the back-list, rarely to be seen as a priority by marketers again (except in the case of a movie deal, an award, or other public mentions that could revive a book’s status).
With the rise of digital marketing, ebooks (which make it relatively easy to sell back-list titles) and highly developed communities of interest on the Web, more successful book marketers are looking at their marketing agenda as anything they can sell, any time of year.
“There will be an obvious leader – that is to say, at some point we’ll start to see back-list books popping more out of one publisher than out of others,” said Shatzkin. “That will be the way the world finds out and people will be saying, ‘why is it that suddenly we see “Publisher X” books that are nine months old showing up on the best-seller list’ and somebody will poke around and say, ‘oh, well, they’re all part of their “single women” marketing group’ for example.
“What drives change is success. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” he said.
Some publishers, like digital-first Open Road have already adopted similar marketing philosophies.