Let’s take a (I wanted to say short then time caught up with me) walk down memory lane to 1993. That year a relatively new author, Peter James, published his novel ‘Host’ on two floppy disks. What happened next was absolutely hysterical from a modern day perspective.
Fellow authors and journalists went ballistic! Reportedly one reporter (haha) even went so far as to drag a PC and generator out to the beach to “demonstrate the ridiculousness of this new form of reading”.
– and as Mr. James will tell you, “I was front-page news of many newspapers around the world, accused of killing the novel. [But] I pointed out that the novel was already dying at an alarming rate without my assistance”.
Fast-forward to 2017 where we have smartphones, tablets, Amazon books and Kindle e-readers – digital books are here to stay. The question is: how will their format change in the years to come and what will come of paper books?
For more on that, we asked a group of industry experts…
What’s the future of books?
Their answers may surprise you…
Warren Adler, Bestselling Author, The War of the Roses
“As a reader and writer, books are enriching and I can never believe it will ever disappear, but we can’t ignore the economic dangers that lie ahead. The future of books is being dwarfed by the narrative film industry as a moneymaker that minimizes the publishing industry, which is currently in the throes of financial revolution and disorder. As traditional distribution channels lose traction, the danger to the economic survival of books will become more and more evident. Shelf space for display in brick-and-mortar stores is declining rapidly while visual material is booming and changing habits of consumption, especially for younger generations who have been brought up with electronic devices. While I am not categorically opposed to the myriad manifestations of new media and technological advances, my argument is for making the preservation of the art of the written word a priority and finding the right balance.”
Rohit Bhargava, Bestselling Author & Founder of Ideapress Publishing
“For years the publishing industry has gotten away with having a predatory relationship with authors. In the future, this will no longer be possible. Authors have more options than ever before. Some of the top editorial talent in publishing is now available as freelancers, hybrid publishers are growing and authors are demanding direct connection with their readers.
The traditional publishing model of acquisition, cut and paste marketing strategy and praying for a few big hits will no longer work. Instead, publishing will continue to move towards becoming a service industry much like the way marketing agencies currently work with brands.
Authors who choose to work with a publisher will expect to be treated like a VIP customer instead of temp employee. This evolution will help publishers to become the tastemakers of ideas as they once were. In a future where anyone is one button away from publishing anything, we will need curators of quality more than ever.
Publishers have the opportunity to offer this to the world – and I believe this can and should be the vision for the future of publishing.”
Adam Witty, Founder & CEO of Advantage Media Group
“No matter the digital advancements, being an author of a book – a three-dimensional book – will continue to elicit respect and authority, particularly in the world of business books. The hybrid publishing trend – authors paying to have books written, designed and marketed – currently catching on, will continue to grow to be a viable publishing model. Avoiding the low-quality of self-publishing and the challenge of getting attention from traditional publishing houses, hybrid publishing will fill that middle niche. These books will serve as measures of legitimacy for authors. Hybrid publishing will require a minimum time commitment from business people too busy to commit the resources to write themselves while presenting them with an invaluable marketing tool. There is a deference afforded authors – an assumed expertise – and that won’t change. And because of that, while publishing models will change, there’ll be a place for traditional books.”
Jade-Ceres Munoz, Founder of Books on the Bus NZ
“I think that books will always have a place in society. While ebooks and Kindle will always be there, for hard core book lovers, this will never really replace a physical book you can feel and smell and bring with you to the beach.
The industry has faced many challenges with some NZ publishers closing their in-country distribution and editorial operations since 2013. Average sales per title have been in decline for over a decade for local firms given the strength of online book merchants. However, we have a lot of amazing local authors that continue to churn out their work, so I’m still pretty optimistic about where this is all headed. I put together Books on the Bus NZ to help renew that love for reading and having a physical book in New Zealand.”
Vid Buggs Jr., Founder & Owner of 4-U-Nique Publishing
“The future of books will remain strong, but I believe ebooks and audiobooks will outsell books that are in print. More traditional publishing companies and bookstores will go out of business due to the less demand for printed books. The rise of hybrid publishing companies and self-publishing will also cause many traditional publishing companies to close. Not to worry, with entrepreneurship on the raise more people will put out books to help brand themselves and their businesses. The forecast for the book market overall looks promising.”
Laura Nevanlinna, CEO of Kaiken Publishing
“The printed book will continue to be essential to publishing in the next 10-15 years. However, it will become a luxury item (ex. fancy bind-ups), especially with picture books and highly visual genres.
Likewise, e-books are here to stay as well. What will change most is our user interface. Instead of reading from several devices, we’ll choose just one—most likely our mobiles. We’re already seeing the serialization of books on mobile and this bite-sized approach to publishing will definitely continue.
360 storytelling will continue to grow with VR and AR. Particularly in children’s stories and comics. However, it won’t take over or replace more traditional storytelling methods because it simply doesn’t apply to certain genres like romance. Having said that, if the publishing industry wants to sell books, it must embrace 360 storytelling.
Entertainment brand licensed publishing will be big as the crossover opportunities are massive. Also, fandoms around particular genres (ex. YA & romance) will exert even more influence on publishing.”
Hannah Onstad, CEO of LOAKL.com
“The real opportunity is in seamless multi-platform delivery, meaning once you purchase a title, you can read the physical book in bed, continue reading on your phone when you’re sitting in a waiting room, and then listen to the content in your car while driving home. That, to me, is the future.”