Taking Bets for 2014...

Taking Bets for 2014...

Six Book and Publishing Betting odds for 2014

I would take bets, but I’m not licensed, so it is just for fun

Kindle dominance – the end of the beginning? 

10 to 1 because this requires a lot of different people working for the same thing at the same time.

How much longer can a ring-fenced, closed ecosystem based on a non-universal digital format dominate? Does anyone remember Sony’s attempts to ring-fence the digital music market with ATRAC? Is 2014 the year in which ePub and the meteoric rise of Android create the perfect storm to break the Kindle domination? 

The odds are longer than they could be on this for two reasons:

Firstly, Apple and Google approached book selling as an extension of their existing App Stores. So books are sold like apps, which feels like buying a book from GAME or HMV – it can be done but it feels weird. So not a compelling alternative to Kindle.

Secondly, Amazon are so good at what they do it is a no-brainer for publishers to push everything their way. Traditional publishers would need to work together in a non-cartel way to push alternative retail routes and risk annoying their biggest retailer. 

Side bet – 100 to 1 – Apple and Google tweak the book buying experience. Will only happen if they decouple the book selling store from the global template they use to run Play and App Store. This is a big ask... 

 

A Plethora of routes for new writing to get to market

1 to 2 (fav) – because we are already there but it is still looking a bit messy.

2014 will see a continued growth of platforms for authors to get their work out there. 

More companies pile into the Wattpad, Readwave and Movellas space. A glut of players in the paid-for Vanity/Self-publishing space, making the most of it whilst it lasts. More crowdfunding sites and the rise of the collaborative Indie publishing platforms like Autharium. 

I can see an emerging path for authors that starts with garnering feedback on Wattpad through to a distribution route via a crowd-funded or Indie route. Finally (because it still matters to authors) obtaining a traditional publishing deal because of previous Indie or self-published success. 

That said....

 

Curation, Curation, Curation

3 to 1 – this should happen but there is a vocal minority that thinks pre-consumer curation is bad...

With WH Smith firing the first salvo in the Great Self-Published Curation War, albeit unwittingly, is this the end of the Wild West that is digital self-publishing?

Whilst digital self-publishing has levelled the playing field somewhat, the reality is that there is a severe lack of curation going on and retailers need suppliers they can trust to provide a certain level of quality. 

2014 will see more retailers shouting “Stop!!!! Just a minute, how do we know these ebooks have been edited, proofed or had any form of QC?”

There are some people who think objective curation pre-consumer is a loss of control. They can be quite vocal. But I think this is missing the reality that readers have expectations about the quality of ebook production, even if it is self-published.

 

The rise of the Indie Author and collaborative publishing

2 to 1 – The term “Indie” is being co-opted by numerous players including self-publishers, but I think an Indie author is a different animal.

The Indie what?... The Indie Author, the Indie publishing professional and the collaborative publishing team. Think of a virtual publishing team brought together for the purpose of getting a book to a level of curation and quality normally ascribed to a traditional publishing route. All members of the team share the work and share the rewards. 

A true alternative for the serious author who gets the need for editorial, QC and a decent cover but does not have £000’s to throw at it or dislikes the "one-size-fits-all" approach.

 

An Indie Author Wins Man Booker Prize

100,000 to 1 – Self-published authors cannot be considered for a Man Booker nomination (at the moment). However, an Indie author is not really self-published, they are just not “traditionally” published. But the differentiation between the two types of author are not widely understood. So until this difference is recognised, Indie authors are going to be considered “self-published” so no Man Booker for now.

 

Waterstones survives. 

Evens - Because it has to...

A world without Waterstones Piccadilly or Gower Street is a lesser place. Whilst the pricing cannot hope to match Amazon, I readily pay the extra money to browse books in a proper bookshop with knowledgeable staff and a decent atmosphere.

1000 to 1 - Amazon buys Waterstones - A cheeky prediction with Amazon making a move into the High Street. Waterstones handed Amazon the online book retail market on a plate, then tried to make it alone when it was too late. A perennial prediction, perhaps, in the same way everyone expects Walmart/ASDA to buy Argos every year...