Sunday, December 23, 2012

Three Predictions for Book Publishing in 2013

Kindle as Magic 8 Ball. Illustration by Todd Goldstein

This year, for the second time in a row, I spoke with about a dozen ebook and book-publishing experts to get their predictions on what would happen in book publishing in 2013. I compiled the information and published this:
Ten Bold Predictions for Ebooks and Digital Publishing in 2013.
The thing is, while I think these are solid predictions and will probably be more accurate than our predictions from last year (which have turned out to be really accurate — but more on that in the new year), it doesn’t really scratch my personal itch for making predictions. These, of course, are the predictions of experts that I merely filtered and compiled. When do I get to make predictions?


1. Goodreads becomes a bookseller.
This one is a bit more than a prediction. I have spoke with three sources familiar with the matter (though none of them are at the company) that have given me credible background on the matter: Goodreads, the massive social network dedicated to books and readers, will turn into a bookseller in 2013. When I asked founder and CEO Otis Chandler about it earlier this year, he said “not yet.” When I approached the company with my information and asked for comment, a spokesperson told me, “We don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”
Fair enough and time will tell but let’s think about this for a second. Why not?

The company has more than 12 million registered users who are all there for books and reading — they share book recommendations, find out about new titles and build massive lists of books they intend to buy and read. It already drives a lot of book sales at partner retailers through affiliate links. And it has great relationships with publishers (aka, suppliers) that it can leverage to build stock. So, why wouldn’t the company try to sell books?

Well, for one, it’s risky. Goodreads would likely be giving up its affiliate revenue to go after this and what if people don’t buy? Second, it doesn’t currently sell an e-reading device, so for ebooks, at least, it needs to sell through an app (and give a cut to Apple or Google) or sell files that users will upload to another device. Not a great user experience, though some booksellers are doing it (unless it sold or gave away an e-reading device — not so far-fetched as the costs of those devices approach $0). And on the print side, there are a lot of logistics issues the company would have to solve.
That said, it’s happening, folks. So get ready for a bookseller born of the social media era in 2013.
Rest of story at Forbes 

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