Scoring Our Ten Bold Predictions for Book Publishing in 2012 — Halfway Mark

By Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGsaid

In December 2011, we spoke to a panel of book industry and media experts to hear their bold predictions for the book publishing industry in 2012. Six months later, we’re checking in to see how many have come true, are on their way, or are looking unlikely to happen in 2012 or ever.

How accurate was our crystal ball in 2011? Read on to find out.

Related: Ten Bold Predictions for Book Publishing in 2012

1. We will see more self-published best-sellers next year with an exponential rise in the number of million-selling authors.

Score: Almost there

While an increasing number of self-published authors are finding fame and fortune, there hasn’t to our knowledge been “an exponential rise” in the number of indie-authors who have sold a million books on Kindle or Nook.

That’s no matter to Tracy Garvis Graves and E.L. James who have risen to prominence on the backs of surprise hits On the Island and 50 Shades of Grey, both of which were initially self-published* and have since been picked up by traditional publishing houses.

* Editors’ Note: 50 Shades was originally self-published by James on her personal website before being published on a print-on-demand basis by a small Australian press.


2. Large publishing companies will go through major restructurings, creating new positions and redundancies of all shapes and sizes.

Score: Already happened

We were right on with this prediction. Publishing companies of all shapes and sizes are restructuring to meet the needs of their new digital-focused business models. Most recently, HarperCollins restructured its sales force to focus on digital and analytics. The company also reorganized its worldwide publishing operations around local print-on-demand centers and changed its organizational structure to match.

Macmillan went through a global restructuring in June. Sourcebooks continued to grow with the appointment of its first-ever chief operating officer as well as hires in its education division. Open Road Media continued to grow. NBC Publishing sprouted up out of the News division of the media conglomerate.

It’s safe to say that this trend will continue throughout 2012.


3. Amazon will come out with a larger tablet with an 8.9-inch screen and it will be priced at $299 or lower.

Score: Almost there

According to C|Net, Amazon is reportedly working on a ten-inch version of its Kindle Fire line of tablets.Ten, 8.9, close enough, right?

In related news, Google jumped into the tablet fray recently with the announcements of its new device, the Nexus 7.


4. Apple will come out with a smaller iPad at a reduced price.

Score: Not yet

According to an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, a Portland, Oreg.-based technology investment bank, Apple will release a smaller iPad for $299 before Christmas. This, of course, would violate Steve Jobs’s famous assertion that for smaller tablets to work well, people would have to sharpen the tips of their fingers like pencils.

Regarding rumors that Apple rivals were coming out with 7-inch tablets to challenge the iPad, Jobs said on an earnings call in October 2010: “It’s meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size.”

We’ll believe it when we see it.


5. Sony will get a second life in the e-reader game when Pottermore launches in the Spring.

Score: We got it wrong

The launch of Pottermore created a stir, but not around the Sony eReader device, but around how Pottermore forced all the e-book retailers to send their customers to the site to purchase books for each device. Sorry, Sony.


6. Literary agencies will engage in a campaign to communicate the value of their services to the book industry.

Score: Not yet

So far this year, publishers have started to make a concerted effort to convey their value to the marketplace, but literary agents, as a group, in an organized way, have been absent from this debate.

Digital Book World has heard rumblings from specific agents about the need to convey the value of agents, but nothing organized or large scale yet.


7. Authors will become disenchanted with the rights they sign away to publishers. Shorter and more flexible copyright terms will become more attractive to authors.

Score: Not yet

While this may be happening behind closed doors and in debates on email list-serves, we so far haven’t seen any real evidence that authors are demanding and getting more attractive terms. Even if they were, we wouldn’t likely find out about it for a while, but our sources haven’t indicated to us that this is happening — yet. It’s certainly being talked about by copyright lawyers and agents.


8. The standard e-book royalty from major publishing houses will rise next year and will escalate with increased sales.

Score: Not yet

This is another prediction that will be hard to confirm because of the private nature of book contracts, but we’re pretty certain that this hasn’t happened yet.

What has happened is that self-publishing services have started a price and services battle in an effort to lure more authors. One might assume that publishers have started to do the same, but we won’t make blind assumptions when it’s our prediction reputation on the line.


9. Standards of what an app and what a book is will change and apps will eventually be sold in the iBookstore.

Score: Not yet

Children’s digital publishing is turning a corner this year and enhanced e-books are looking more like apps and children’s e-book apps are behaving more like books (see: Ruckus Reader app). But, while the lines are blurring, they haven’t melted away — yet.


10. More publishing companies will form in-house transmedia groups.

Score: Already happened

Marvel launched a transmedia division this year. While we haven’t reported directly on others that have done so, we’re going to say that one is enough for this prediction.

Here’s a bonus prediction: more will follow in the second half of 2012. Aside from that, it’s hard to say what the rest of 2012 will hold for book publishing except that it’s sure to be another exciting and tumultuous six months. Stay tuned!

Overall score:

— Already happened: 2 (Nos. 2 and 10)

— Almost there: 2 (Nos. 1 and 3)

— Not yet: 5 (Nos. 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9)

— We got it wrong: 1 (No. 5)

Check back at our predictions to score them yourself!

Write to Jeremy Greenfield

Teacher’s desk concept photo via Shutterstock

4 thoughts on “Scoring Our Ten Bold Predictions for Book Publishing in 2012 — Halfway Mark

  1. Shoo Rayner

    Well done – Id say you are about 50% along the way. As a children’s book author I’m certainly moving into digital. I hear publishers trying to explain the value that they bring to publishing , but it’s not convincing. The price expectation of children’s ebooks means that there just isn’t enough to be shared around. I’m loving making and selling iBooks 🙂

  2. Karen Victoria Smith

    Great article#7 is one of the keys reason I incorporate. d and will self publish my work for now. I had offers from small press houses but could not see enough value to sign away rights for 5-7 years.



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