Some Great Predictions

This last week, since I have been just playing with short stories, I didn’t report here a few major changes in publishing. The most important of which is J.K. Rowling’s announcement that she will only sell her e-books from her own web site. This is huge is many, many ways, much of which has been discussed around the web over the last few days.  For a good take on all this, go to The Passive Voice blog and follow his posts on this.  You can get a round-up of all his posts here. In my opinion, he is spot on.

And in his last post on this topic, he did some great predictions that I also agree with completely. The full post is here. Comments are good as well.

But I want to post his predictions here as well. I agree with them all. (And I hope he is correct about authors working through their issues, which I have been calling myths here.)

Passive Guy said:

The Rowling announcement is far from the last of big events that we’ll see. Putting on his prediction hat, Passive Guy says we’ll see:

  • Continuing reduction in the number of physical bookstores (easy to predict)
  • Further consolidation of publishers (also easy)
  • More big author names announcing some version of indie publishing (easy)
  • More Wellesley English majors looking for work outside publishing/agenting (barista training booms)
  • Continuing proliferation of ereaders and/or tablet devices conducive to reading and reductions in ereader and tablet prices (easy)
  • A giant ebook/ereader Christmas season in 2012 (easy)
  • Nastier publishing and agency contracts designed to lock up authors forever (easy)
  • More John Lockes and Amanda Hockings appearing among indie authors
  • Continuing rapid innovation in publicity strategies for indie authors
  • More crowded online bookstores
  • More aggressive talent searches by movie/TV types or new-style agents among indie authors as the publisher/agent pipeline of books begins to dry up
  • On the lawsuit front (after authors work through their battered wife/husband/child codependency syndromes):
    • One or more lawsuits by authors against their publishers and/or agents for underpayment of royalties
    • One or more lawsuits by authors against their agents for misrepresentation of the benefits and consequences of agent-as-publisher agreements
    • Multiple lawsuits by authors trying to break publisher/agent contracts

But what doesn’t change?

People will continue to want stories, new stories, interesting stories, stories that bend their minds and touch their hearts.

Storytellers are always necessary.

People are always willing to pay for good stories.


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14 Responses to Some Great Predictions

  1. Michael says:

    So, you don’t think that the lack of a physical book that comes about because the market is pushing e-readers so hard will cause some people to quit reading all together? And I don’t think “indie book” publishers are the answer either because the quality has, in every instance I have seen, been crap. No one wants a physical book that falls apart after you read it twice.

  2. Roger on all this, Dean! Thanks for the reaffirming voice amid the white noise.

  3. Orin says:

    I wonder in all of this whether the Harry Potter market is somewhat saturated. I’ve seen a few predictions on how this will shake up Kindle as it doesn’t support the format Rowling is publishing under – but then again her first book is sitting at around 11K on the Amazon rankings these days because the market *is* saturated (after 8 films is there a sizable number of people who have thus far avoided Harry Potter who are going to finally take the plunge?) . I could see it changing the e-reader landscape if she had a new book coming out, but rereleases of titles that pretty much everyone seems to already have is less earth shattering. The idea of choosing not to publish on the dominant ereader platform is interesting though.

  4. Tori Minard says:

    Michael, I have a CreateSpace book (not one I wrote) and the quality is very good. It looks completely professional. I’ve read it several times and the binding is still going strong. So I don’t think all indie-published books are crummy in quality.

    • dwsmith says:

      Michael, not where you got the idea of quality difference, but same presses are often used for traditional publisher books. Same kind as well. And all the CreateSpace books I have done can’t be told apart from New York books. So you are thinking in old terms there. Sorry.

  5. Linda Jordan says:

    Orin, what you’re not seeing is each year when the next group of kids grows older and progresses to being able to read middle grade books and discovers H.P. There’s a whole new readership invented each year. That’s what’s so fabulous about classic kids books is they gain an entire new readership and H.P. is now a classic series. And some of these kids are already using ipads in school. They’re already conversant with the technology. So when Mom and Dad want to encourage their gains in reading-what better than an ereader for Christmas?

  6. Lee McAulay says:

    To those who say the market is saturated with Harry Potter, I point out the fact that the Tolkien estate is still making money, even from die-hard fans. If Michael Scott Rohan brought out new work, I’d buy it – I’d pay hardback money to read something new in either of his series. The Stark Raving Fan will want anything by their favourite author and will pay for it willingly.

  7. Randy says:

    You need only look at Disney’s business model to realize Harry Potter’s market will never be saturated. Disney re-releases all of its movies every seven years, the theory being that there’s a new crop of kids to target. There are plenty of kids around who weren’t even born when the first Potter book came out.

  8. Orin says:

    Linda – if that were the case (and the market wasn’t saturated) – I suspect the first in the series would be trending higher than 11K on Amazon. A book trending at that level is probably shifting about one or two dozen copies a week. Even if they were all ebooks – that’s not enough to get Amazon to change the formats that Kindle supports as some commentators have suggested.

  9. Steve Lewis says:

    @ Orin:

    I’m confused about why you keep saying that the first book in the Harry Potter series is ranked at 11,000. I looked it up on Amazon and it’s nowhere near that low:

    The hardcover (11 years after it was released) is ranked at 711 in books:

    And the paperback is ranked at 311:

    Also, the last book to come out which came out two years ago, is ranked at 134:

    Not trying to be argumentative just a little confused.

  10. I’ve seen a few predictions on how this will shake up Kindle as it doesn’t support the format Rowling is publishing under

    Kindle can support epub and other formats any time Amazon decides they want it to — it’s just a firmware upgrade — which could probably be remotely pushed. It’s a little harder to “jailbreak” Kindles with the latest version of the software — they’d rather you didn’t bypass the “special features” on the advertising-subsidized Kindles — but it’s just Linux underneath. Amazon won’t decide to do that unless and until they see Kindle’s market share slipping because of it, the Kindle-Amazon lock-in (perceived – most of us here know we can get Kindle-formatted ebooks elsewhere) is too good for them to give it up easily. Even if it could read other formats, though, it’s still easier with a Kindle to buy from Amazon than from anyone else, just as I’m sure it’s easier with a Nook to buy from B&N.

    Although given all the extra interactive goodies, it seems like Rowling is aiming squarely at the iOS and Android markets — smart devices, not dedicated readers. (Most people who have tried both prefer to read for long periods on a dedicated e-ink reader; it’s easier on the eyes. When fast-response-time color e-ink/e-paper gets out of the lab, expect to see another huge shift in reader technology. I’d guess in time for the 2012 Christmas season.)

    Wow, sorry for the techie digression, Dean.

  11. Brandon Wood says:

    YES! So glad to see this. These are all predictions/thoughts I’ve had myself, but I’ve been worried that I might be missing something since I’m no expert. So nice to see that I’m not being overly optimistic. :-)

    I look at it this way: e-readers are not going to replace physical books, no, but soon, most people will have an e-reader. Sure, they’ll still continue to buy hardback copies of their favorite books, but they’ll still have an e-reader. I don’t know how long it will take, but eventually, almost everyone will have one. That’s just how technology works (e.g. cellphones, computers, laptops) with it being expensive at first, going down in price, more and more people hopping on board, etc. So I’m investing in my future by writing. How cool is that? And there’s always the chance that something I write will be appealing to lots and lots of people, so I like keeping that hope alive better than, say, buying a lottery ticket!

  12. John Walters says:

    Not only are Createspace books as well-bound as traditionally published books – in my experience they are much better. They are solidly bound with high quality paper and cover. I have been very pleased when I have received proof copies of my books. Many traditionally published books, on the other hand, seem to be rapidly dropping in quality – they fall apart after one reading – possibly another area in which harried publishers are trying to save a buck.

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