When trends become clear—from self-publishing to writer events to the boutique model of the industry to the re-growth of print sales and large publisher consolidation—I regularly point out in the office that I predicted them two or three years ago. Given that I’m generally met with bemused looks, I thought I would make an official record of some predictions for 2016.
So here, in no particular order, are 10 publishing predictions for the year ahead:
1. Continued regrowth of print sales. Those who predicted the demise of the print book were wrong. With strong demand remaining and the boutique model having taken hold with mass numbers in digital and the profit margin in print sales, publishers are taking advantage by nudging their print prices up. A new generation of bookstores (including pop-ups) is emerging, and 2016 will be a positive year for print sales.
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2015: The Year in Mergers (Pub Lunch)
The intense M&A activity from 2013 and 2014 carried over into 2015, though the sale of domestic trade publishers was modest, so the common perception was of fewer mergers. In trade, the biggest deal might be the one that never happened. Up until the end of the summer, it was widely expected that Pearson would exercise their option to have Bertelsmann buy out their 47-percent share in Penguin Random House. Instead, Pearson raised cash by selling the Financial Times and then their share in The Economist, and a sale to Bertelsmann—whether outright, or in the “steps” that Bertelsmann management started talking about—will remain a significant story for 2016 and/or beyond.
Looking Back at 2015 in Book Publishing (NY Times)
Audiobook sales soared, while ebook sales tapered off. Harper Lee came out with a second novel, 55 years after To Kill a Mockingbird, and a long-lost Dr. Seuss book was published posthumously. Millions of adults bought coloring books. The year in publishing defied expectations and overturned conventional wisdom. Here are some of the most surprising stories from the literary world in 2015.
Ten Years of Growth in Graphic Novel Publishing (PW)
Ten years ago there were no ebooks or iPads, New York Comic Con had a clumsy first year catering to a clamoring audience of 20,000 fans, no one had ever heard of DRM and the comics and graphic novel market was estimated to be about $245 million. Today the comics market is pegged at $935 million, New York Comic Con attendance was more than 150,000 and the category is one of the fastest growing segments in the book trade.
Political Reporter Finds Salvation in Audiobooks (NY Times)
Gary Shteyngart got me through a miserable downpour in New Hampshire. Ta-Nehisi Coates entertained me on a late-night sojourn through South Carolina. And thank God for Truman Capote or I most certainly would have fallen asleep and driven off a desolate farm road in Iowa. From the outside, covering the 2016 presidential campaign may seem like a constant stream of rallies and news conferences and adrenaline-fueled nights in the newsroom. There’s plenty of that, but the job also involves driving, and lots of it. Listening to audible books has become not just entertainment, but my savior.
Used Bookstores Making an Unlikely Comeback (Washington Post)
Used bookstores, with their quintessential quirkiness, eclectic inventory and cheap prices, find themselves in the catbird seat as the pendulum eases back toward print. In many cities, that’s a de facto position: they’re the only book outlets left. While there are no industry statistics on used-book sales, many stores that survived the initial digital carnage say their sales are rising.
Book + Hook = Sales (Marketing Recipe for Authors) (Chris McMullen)
Is your book full of hooks? If you don’t understand the question, don’t worry. I’ll explain it shortly. After I ask a different question. Why did you read this article? I realize that you haven’t committed yet. At any moment, you could walk away. And so could customers when they check out your book. Remember that. The hooks make the difference.
6 Steps for Building Your Author Mailing List Through Giveaways (Reedsy)
One of the main questions that torment debuting authors is, how do I build an audience for my first book before I release it? Most authors are aware that they should start building their author mailing list months in advance; they just don’t know how. Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially if you haven’t published anything yet. But it’s not impossible to do, even while you’re writing your first book.