Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Top 5 for 2010--Book Publishing Predictions from Tim

  1. Continued extinction of the 20th Century book eco-system. More bookstores will close, less "trade" new titles will be published by fewer "acknowledged" trade publishers, less books will sell through traditional channels (whether retail or institutional), less people will be employed by book publishers, and less money will be spent overall by publishers.
  2. The existential crisis for traditional publishers will continue. There is no going back to the way it was, and the path forward is unclear at best. More content will be written defending the value of the traditional publisher and their traditional functions, and many still in publishing will be encouraged and share these pieces with colleagues. This will not change the problem. Dualism (e vs. p) in publishers will exacerbate this trend, with the "e" staff seen to be the favorites and sometimes mocking their primitive "p" colleagues.
  3. The best publishers will invest in operational improvements, so they can handle their "physical" business more efficiently. Areas like data warehousing/business intelligence and reports, sales forecasting and inventory management, and measuring sales force productivity will see increased focus to drive more ROI. Any savings will then be invested in digital infrastructure needs. The best publishers will create self-funding loops.
  4. On-demand print technologies will continue to evolve, particularly for full color, and the most innovative trade publishers will find ways to capitalize on new capabilities. Look for more personalization of book content (with pre-orders) as publishers try to find ways to charge more (for extra value) and build databases of interested readers. The best publishers will make this a long-term strategic priority.
  5. On the digital side, now that eBooks are finally hot (after 10 years of anticipation), the growing focus for publishers will be on understanding and managing the digital supply chain. Publishers will need to understand (and spin) the advantages that their digital supply chain brings to the table versus other competitors, whether those are traditional publishers or other players.