How Did I Do on My 2016 Publishing Predictions?

book publishing, publishers, books, salesLast December I wrote a blog post setting out my predictions for the publishing industry in 2016, and I promised to revisit them after 12 months. I always stress the importance of accepting accountability in business, and therefore I must also live—or fall—by the same rules.

I have placed a score by each prediction. Please feel free to leave your comments if you agree or disagree, or if you want to add your own predictions for 2017.

So, here it goes:

1. Continued regrowth of print sales. A decent start: the steady growth of print book sales, after years of falling, has continued—words that should please and enthuse all in the publishing industry. According to the U.S. Census Bureau), the first half of last year saw sales grow nearly 2 percent, and through the first six months of 2016, bookstore sales have jumped more than 6 percent. Score: 9/10.

2. Increased focus on export sales. This is something we have done internally in my publishing businesses, successfully building an international sales infrastructure. I strongly believe the future for publishers consists of lots of small-medium pots of revenue spread widely, and I can see the role export sales can play in this. The UK’s Publishing Association stated that UK book export revenues were £1.42bn in 2015 (42 percent of total books revenues), slightly down on 2014. Early signs are that 2016 will show varied in territory but steady growth, so middle marks. Score 5/10.

Much more.


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The Big Book Publishing Stories of 2016 (PW)
By some measures, such as the lack of a breakout hit and no major controversy, 2016 was a quiet year in publishing. Yet there were a number of developments that took place that will continue to impact the industry into 2017 and beyond.

More Than Ever, Trade Looks for Last-Minute Holiday Boost (Pub Lunch)
The print book trade still has not shaken off the post-election drag on sales, even with holiday sales well underway, Nielsen Bookscan statistics show. As we noted a month ago, much of the year’s performance will depend on how the final holiday book sales push fares. Despite Barnes & Noble’s quite public complaints, overall the lead up to the election did not appear to dampen book sales, though quarter by quarter 2016’s gains on 2015 have been ebbing throughout the year.

Kindle Unlimited: The Trend Continues, and the House Is on Top (Pub Lunch)
Amazon made their monthly retroactive announcement of how much money they have decided to allocate to authors who participate in Kindle Unlimited, with November’s bounty following the pattern from the prior month. The pool was boosted by $100,000, to $16.3 million, while the total “pages read” declined, to roughly 3.032 billion (down from 3.122 billion in October, and 3.197 billion in September).

After Brexit, Will the Novel Suffer? (NY Times)
“How will literature be affected by Brexit?” This was the question four authors, myself included, were asked at a recent London bookshop event with the rather curious title “European Fiction in the United Kingdom: In or Out?”

Book Promotion for Indie Authors: Working with Bookstores (BookWorks)
These days, the burden of book promotion rests squarely on the author, especially indie authors, but even traditionally published authors have to pull their weight to sell books. If a bookstore agrees to stock your book and put it on their shelves, what’s next? How does a bookstore go about letting their customers know that your book is there? How to they promote it?

When a Writing Opportunity Knocks, Answer (NY Times)
Adaptability is the byword for authors in the technological age; to flip at warp speed from print to digital, bookstores to algorithms, while dealing with a flood of competing product not seen since Noah. But there will always be the “external factor,” as they say in marketing, that rocks your world.

The Future of Authorship (Scholarly Kitchen)
Dismayed by the loss of trust in facts, and seeming preference for half-truths that appears to be driving our political present, I decided to catch up on my reading over the weekend. Perhaps sensitized by our nation’s loss of innocence, I was particularly struck by a recent and stimulating article in Publishers Weekly, entitled How to Sell Nearly a Half-Million Copies of a Poetry Book, by Anisse Gross.

Three Expert Observers on Ed-Tech in the UK (Pub Perspectives)
“Word gets around quickly when products disappoint.” That and other cautions led ed-tech discussions at London’s FutureBook Conference this month.

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