The trends defining digital publishing in 2013
At the end of each year publishers around the world release a summary of trends from the past year and a list of predications for the year ahead. The Literary Platform released this article at the end of 2012 and I thought it would be interesting to see how some of the most popular prophecies for 2013 are tracking so far.
One of the most common suggestions was that 2013 would see a rise in mergers, following the amalgamation of Random House and Penguin last year. In February we heard news of a possible merger between Meredith Corporation and Time Warner (see my blog post 2 lessons Meredith Corp’s business model has for digital publishers). So far that is the only big name alliance that has been proposed. If industry giants like Amazon continue to monopolise the publishing market, it will be interesting to see if any smaller publishers make an attempt at rivalry by combining forces; or if they will realise that big doesn’t always equal best, and the smartest way to take on the likes of Apple and Amazon is to beat them at their own game and embrace digital publishing alternatives.
Rush to digital
Industry professionals made the prediction that the publishing industry would continue to experience growth in the digital market. As I have discussed previously (see my blog post, digital books: the question mark of the publishing industry), the big digital book retailers are yet to provide solid data to support their claims that digital book sales are increasing. The numbers they have released indicate a steady increase in digital book sales each year; for example, Amazon said their sales were up 70% in 2012 on the year before. Without more comprehensive data, it is hard to gauge the accuracy of this claim. If we believe the stories retailers have been telling us all year, and it appears that most industry professionals are prepared to do so, 2013 has been, and will continue to be, a big year for digital book providers.
Surge in entrepreneurial behaviour
With the sale of all kinds of digital devices expected to peak, it was estimated that new digitally focused indies and entrepreneurial start-ups would appear rapidly in 2013. On this note the forecast was correct. So far this year we have seen hundreds of emerging tech and IT start-ups. These companies have identified the advantages offered to publishers by digital technology and the need to capitalize on the opportunities afforded by the broad market. They have incorporated new digital and technological tools into their business models to enable their clients to create projects that are innovative, competitive and cutting edge.
Rise of self-publishing
On a similar note, self-publishing was estimated to flourish as a mainstream option for authors wanting more autonomy in the writing, editing and production process. This has certainly been the case, as evidenced by the increasing number of previously print published authors as well as first timers who are opting for the DIY model. From Pulitzer Prize winning author David Memet, to queen of titillating blockbusters, Jackie Collins, many writers are choosing to self publish for the independence it affords them in the creative process.
New consumption of digital content
A final popular prediction for 2013 was that publishers would construct new sustainable ways to buy and consume content. This concept incorporates notions such as digital lending, subscription services, and bundles- all of which we have already seen evidence this year. A number of big publishing retailers, such as Amazon already provide subscription and digital lending services. Likewise, 2013 has seen libraries beginning to introduce digital lending options for readers.
As predicted by industry experts, 2013 has produced some very influential trends. These, and many other concepts (which we will explore in the future) are rapidly redefining the digital publishing landscape.