« Editorial

The Most Radical Publishing Events of 2010 and Predictions for 2011


For our final new issue of the year, we wanted to reflect a little on the year and share what each of us thought was the most radical publishing event of 2010 and gaze into our crystal ball for 2011. Look for five days of our best stories from 2010. We’ll be back in 2011 with fresh reporting, insight, interviews and opinions from the world of publishing. Till then . . . Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.

Thomas Minkus, Publisher:

The launch of the iPad on April 3rd 2010 is, to me, the most radical publishing event of the year. As an entertainment device for the entire family, the iPad has found a home on millions of coffee tables around the world in a matter of months. For many, the iPad is THE current gateway to consuming content digitally. It demonstrates that reading a book on a screen can be as pleasant an experience as reading a printed book. More than the Kindle, the Sony or the Nook, the iPad seems to have the power to convert even die-hard paper lovers of all ages into e-book readers and customers.

My prediction for 2011: With falling tablet prices, the rise of iPad competitors, and the future release of the second generation iPad, consumers will be less likely to buy or use dedicated e-book readers like the Nook or the Kindle. Instead they will opt for multi-use, tablet-like devices that can accommodate enhanced e-books, color images and multimedia experiences.

Hannah Johnson, Deputy Publisher:

Because we are talking specifically about publishing in 2010, I will have to leave out the international takeover of Angry Birds, an iPhone-app-turned-franchise that has been downloaded over 50 million times and is consuming hours of people’s lives around the world each day. No, in publishing, the most significant development this year has been the death of “death of publishing” articles and the mentality that goes along with it. Is anyone legitimately questioning the survival of publishing companies in the digital future? In 2010, publishers made the decision to embrace digital strategies, work with new technology, and lead the way in producing and selling great content digitally.

My prediction for 2011: Angry Birds, the enhanced e-book.

Erin Cox, Director of Business Development

Most radical publishing event of 2010? Hrm, looking at international publishing, it’s hard to say . . . is it the big Spanish publishers joining together to create an e-book publishing platform? Is it bricks and mortar bookstores finding their way into the digital realm through creating their own devices (Barnes & Noble and Thalia) or Google Editions? Is it Amazon moving further ahead in their own publishing program? Is it Andrew Wylie circumventing the big six to create a relationship directly with Amazon? Is it the onset of the iPad or the decrease in price for e-readers so virtually anyone can afford them?

I’d have to say that the most radical is likely from my own perspective as a literary agent . . . that agents and writers have glimpsed a world where they actually turn down big advances (or don’t take advances at all) in order to guarantee promotion and marketing budgets, to be more heavily invested in the publishing process, and to receive a larger royalty percentage on the back end. Now, this doesn’t work for everyone because oftentimes writers need advances to live on while they write the books, but the days of those outlandish advances might be nearing their ends.

My prediction for 2011: The talk of the publishing industry dying will decline and we will figure out new, inventive ways of reaching readers and selling books. Just focus on the content, publishers, and the readers will come.

Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

The most radical publishing event of 2011 was, as Hannah said above, the shift in attitudes of book publishers away from thinking that digital was going to be a sinkhole that was going to subsume the book business and publishers subsequently adopting the view that digital represented a portal into the future and the wallets of (some) consumers. It cannot be disputed that 2011 is the year that e-books were finally embraced by the mainstream. Look around you…how many people do you know who are reading digital books? Maybe it’s your wife, child, mother-in-law. Maybe they have a Kindle or a Nook or an i-something-or-other. Last year you’d have had a hard time finding anyone who’d read an e-book other than a few select early adopters. This year, e-readers are the hot holiday gift. By this time next year, e-books will no longer be a novelty, they’ll just . . . be.

My prediction for 2011: Everyone Becomes a Publisher. Literally. Whether it’s bloggers turning their posts into books with Blurb, or going the whole DIY route, self-publishing will become an increasingly attractive option for greater numbers of writers, be they casual or professional. Not so fast. If the growth numbers hold steady, I expect Bowker to announce before BookExpo America that nearly a million new titles were published in the United States alone this year – of which it’s likely more than half were self-published. If you’re looking for a top trend for 2011, a further explosion of self-published books, either in print or digital, is likely to be it. Of course, point-and-click book publishing might never truly make an author happy –publishing is, after all, collaborative — and the question remains of whether the audience is there to buy and read so many of these new titles.

DISCUSS: Share Your Strongest Publishing Memory from 2010 and Predictions for 2011

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  1. Posted December 25, 2010 at 4:17 am | Permalink

    A braver or more radical prediction for 2011 would be that “the book” expands beyond a single app or other physical media to encompass the whole Internet as its manuscript. In this scenario “the book” is really the plot, the characters and the genre with blurred physical boundaries and blurred fictional boundaries – a story told across several media in formats and at times suited to a multitude reader lifestyles.

    In this scenario, “marketing” is indistinguishable from “content” because the embodiment of the story is such that content released for free and made freely sharable contains real plot, real characters and the possibility for real reader experiences that bring them into contact with their fictional heroes: building engagement and recommendation that leverages early adopters to grow the larger market.

    One such example is a crime mystery called Lowlifes that’s running on our Conducttr pervasive entertainment platform. There’s a paid book (paperback and digital) and paid 30 min video (DVD and download) and a free blog and free interactive game that tells the prequel to the book. To access the game – and receive free additional content – the reader must visit the fictional character’s website and play a role in the story. Here “the book” is the whole world of fictional detective Larry Hayes, his ex-wife and private detective Lauren Ortega (http://ortegapi.posterous.com/) plus the factual world of San Francisco. Lowlifes.tv launches Jan 2011. It will be the first transmedia experience of the year and a small illustration of greater things to come in 2011 and beyond.

  2. Posted December 26, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I agree that a multiuse tablet seems to be a better solution than the dedicated book readers. Also the idea that some traditional ebooks will morph into multimedia rich interactive presentations. Here is an article related to that idea. http://bit.ly/dSVSU6 . In regard to whether there is an audience for the half million self published books it is important to understand the long tail concept. I would like to add the trend toward book video trailers as an essential marketing medium for all books. Video on the web as an essential communications component will explode in 2011.

  3. Posted December 27, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    As long as money continues to dictate and control the mass media nothing will change and as long as people continue to accept what the mass media purports to be truth, nothing will change. Books have always been an outlet of truth and a way to change prevailing circumstances for the better and novels have always been an outlet for that very thing; for example consider Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” which actually caused the birth of the FDA. However, until the general population stops believing that because a person is a “celebrity” of some sort that that, in itself, means that they have something relevant, or even intelligent, to say and that their time and money would be well-spent to attend a book-signing & shovel out $20 bucks for a book by Sarah Palin or Miley Cyrus, etc., then, obviously, the mass media is influencing, if not controlling, too many minds, including editors and publishers, who have only the bottom line in mind when considering anything. If you think that we live in a Democracy and not a Capitalist State, then look at the comments about the sales of Sarah Palin’s book; they speak of the huge advance she got and the 2 or 3 million books that have purportedly sold but nothing about the actual content of the book itself; but then, that makes sense, after all there was nothing in the book.

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