Jo Konrath’s Predictions for 2014

Joe has some interesting predictions up on his blog.  Read them here:

I agree with most of them, but not all I’m afraid. Some of Joe’s predictions are sort of a wish list of a revolutionary mentality instead of a prediction based on fact.  For example, paper is now hovering at 70% of all trade books sold, while electronic has flatlined at 19% (the rest is audio and such).  So his first prediction that B&N will go away is just wrong.

For those following the B&N stock and the business reports, B&N is stable, following a good business plan of closing some underperforming stores, and opening up new ones. The Nook program needs a refocus, yes, but is still the second largest platform for selling books and ebooks. And they just expanded out of the US. So B&N is pretty solid and not going anywhere. However, their Nook platform and sales wing will change in some fashion in 2014.

And he flat missed the fact that Amazon is moving to Brick and Mortar based stores and will become, in essence, a major book chain selling everything else at the same time. They are hiring now for that move and have been buying land and working out leases for that over the last two years. That is no surprise, but will help paper book sales a great deal.

His prediction about many trade publishers is overblown as well. But he is right about mergers and some shut-downs of book lines. But profit margins are still high with all the major corporations (Thanks mostly to writers giving them everything). The big trade book publishers aren’t going anywhere fast.

His prediction that indie stores need to sell more indie published books is already happening. He’s a little behind there since B&T and Ingrams changed their POD printed policies last April, allowing all brick and mortar stores, including B&N, to order indie-published books without a problem.

The rest of his predictions I agree with, especially the continued war between trade published writers and indie writers and writers needing to stay focused on discoverability as Kris is talking about ever week in her blog at the moment.

We have reached a new stability in publishing. In fact, it’s been pretty stable now for over a year or more. This is the new world, folks. And I hope Joe makes his new hinted-at projects work. That would be great, especially the library one.

Joe has been one of the leaders in a revolution that changed an entire industry, but someone forgot to tell Joe he won the war about a year ago.

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8 Responses to Jo Konrath’s Predictions for 2014

  1. Jacintha says:

    There seem to be a contingent of people who are not just expecting the demise of Barnes and Noble but actively anticipating it. With salivation. And sparkles in their eyes. There’s a borderline glee, akin to that other contingent of people who dance around fires casting fell curses at Amazon.

  2. Thomas E says:

    I find it hard to agree with a couple of Konrath’s predictions. For example, number 2 doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe it does in America, but in Britain most libraries order books through the same distribution networks as bookshops. Independent authors are already being bought without libraries necessarily even knowing that they are buying self-published books.

    Maybe it’s different in the US?

    I don’t agree with his prediction number 5, for the simple reason that even in small markets like Britain there have been vastly more books published every month than someone could read in a lifetime.

    I’ve never bought a fiction book from an author’s website. Doesn’t make sense to me.

    I don’t agree that the entire bookselling industry’s going to collapse any time soon. What we are seeing in the UK is that ebook readers are being sold for the price of a hardback book now, or given away free with newspaper subscriptions, and are widely available via apps given away free on mobile phones. Everyone in the UK with the disposable income to buy books now has access to ereaders at a reasonable price, and yet physical book sales are now stabilized and even growing.

    Just my take on these predictions.

    • dwsmith says:

      Actually, Thomas, library distribution here is partly through regular channels, and partly through special distributors. But indie publishers can get to libraries just fine if they want either way. Just takes some work.

  3. Joseph Bradshire says:

    The Konrath Koolaid tastes so sweet.

  4. Emily Hill says:

    On Joe’s Number 4 prediction: Our small town bookstore, rather snooty 4 years ago, is now actively seeking, and selling, IndieAuthors who meet quality standards in design and editing.

    We’re demographically a retirement town with an active writer’s community, author open mikes at the coffee shops, and book signings at the Art Gallery Walk evenings.

    Originally the proprietors said that selling Indie conflicted with her Ingram’s contract; but nearly bankrupted during the recession they began accepting premium Indie books and the ‘buzz’ over local authors made things a lot more interesting.

    • dwsmith says:

      Yup, and as of last April, they can get most indie published books through Ingram. Great new world for indie publishers.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Out of curiosity, where did you get the 70% of all books sold are paper? I thought amazon and the other ebookstores didn’t release their sales numbers so indie published books through them can’t be tallied reliably into the percentages. If the number of indie books sold has expanded without the tradpub books expanding, then the percentage could be quite off. In fact, it could look like ebooks are flatlining while the reality is completely different (either expanding or shrinking.)

    Also, for indie authors, I’ve gotten the impression from blogs and numbers they released that paper doesn’t sell as well for indie authors as ebooks do. My own numbers reflect that too.

    But I definitely agree with you that paper will remain important for awhile. Other new media technologies in the past didn’t replace old ones so quickly and many remained relevant for quite awhile (for instance, there’s still a market for DVDs and CDs although the long term trend indicates the demand has been shrinking.)

    • dwsmith says:

      The number comes from 1,100 or so trade publishers surveyed every month, plus Bowker who takes care of ISBNs, which even Amazon can’t hide if they use. Indie publishers are a nice bit of the market now, some say about the equivalent of one of the big six. But even with indie publishers, paper and electronic is being traced. Smashwords reports, as does B&N. Only people completely hidden are the people who go exclusive with Amazon and don’t buy an ISBN. But that is a tiny, tiny, tiny number. All books in CreateSpace have ISBNs as well. It’s all tracked and put together. For all of 2013, electronic sales were in the norms of flat. The boom is over. But I love this new world.

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