Next year is already underway in parts of the world, but the predictions for publishing trends in the coming year are still rolling in. One blog post today still holds on to the belief that the rise in ebook sales will actually mean the death of paper within the next five years, despite popular industry belief that paper and digital will both survive well into the future.
Thomas Umstattd, CEO of Author Media, wrote a post for Author Tech Tips in which he compiled some predictions from far-flung corners of the publishing industry. Unlike previous posts, Umstattd’s survey subjects included small to large publishing companies as well as literary agents and editors. The survey posed questions on everything from ebook pricing and independent publishing opportunities to the repercussions of some of the moves made in the traditional publishing world in 2011.
Interestingly, an entire section of the report is dedicated to professionals’ thoughts on Amazon in the coming year. One respondent predicts that Amazon Publishing, the company’s traditional publishing arm, will add a religious imprint to go along with its other genre-specific branches. Umstattd himself predicts that Amazon Publishing will sign as many as twenty-four new previously bestselling authors, forcing the hands of the Big Six in terms of coming to an agreement on ebook pricing.
Speaking of ebook pricing, different industry professionals surveyed had some antithesis statements about where pricing and royalties will be headed in the next year. Author Randy Ingermanson went so far as to provide a detailed explanation of the mathematics behind the potential in ebook pricing.
“Traditional publishers will lower their prices on e-books to $9.99, because they’ll realize that earning 70% of $9.99 is better than earning 35% of $14.99. Midlist authors who have been traditionally published in the past and who are now self-publishing e-books will raise their prices to the mid-range ($3.99 to $6.99) so as to avoid being confused with the zillions of low-quality books priced at $0.99 and below. They will find that they sell better at a higher price, as long as they stay a bit below the $9.99 price point that will be favored by traditional publishers,” says Ingermanson.
Again, there was a 180-degree difference of opinion on where the technology of digital reading will be headed in 2012. While editors Jeff Gerke and Julie Gwinn felt like transmedia reading and enhanced ebooks will be the next big thing in digital reading next year, Umstattd himself pointed out that the cost of producing an enhanced ebook will probably show itself to be prohibitive, at least in terms of mass marketed ebooks.
Possibly the most welcome prediction in Umstattd’s report is from author Jim Rubart, and if it comes to pass it could be the very thing that turns the tide of ebook pricing and attitudes towards indie publishing. Rubart believes that someone will establish a large-scale rating site for digitally published books that will allow consumers to find a company that will weed out the lesser quality ebooks with a rating system. If such a site existed, a lot of the industry concerns about the chaff of self-published ebooks could be put to rest.