88 Predictions for Publishing in 2016

Crystal Ball on an Open Book

What’s going to happen in the publishing industry in 2016? Come take a look.

It is my custom each New Year to make as many predictions as I can for the coming year, as it pertains to the publishing industry. I do this to try and beat my competition to the coming trends, then I do something stupid–I post them on Twitter and here on my blog.

I have a pretty good track record with my predictions. I try to be as far out there as possible, rather than stating the obvious, so sometimes my predictions are a bit controversial. Still, if my predictions were the same as everyone else’s, Flying Pen Press would never get the competitive edge it needs to keep growing as it has. I come up with these predictions by watching trends in other industries and in the marketplace. I search what is beginning to trend in music, TV and movies, and what people in the zeitgeist are chatting and hashing about. Or just gut instinct. Don’t ask for any documented basis for these predictions, because there ain’t any. At best, these are educated guesses.

I give you my 88 predictions for publishing in 2016. If you have any questions, comments, snide remarks or attaboys, please post them in the comments section.

David Rozansky’s Predictions for Publishing in 2016

  • Prediction 1: Vampires will return. But evil vampires, not sparkly vampires.
  • Prediction 2: Time tripping, a la Diane Gabaldon and Time After Time, will be the big trend.
  • Prediction 3: Live Periscope publication parties will emerge as a great new way to release a book.
  • Prediction 4: EBook sales will continue to grab more of the market while Big 5 E-book sales will continue to slide. Pricing will be the main culprit, but direct online sales of ebooks by authors will start to emerge as the alternative to Kindle.
  • Amazon Books at Univeristy Village in Seattle

    Amazon, coming to a retail outlet near you.

  • Prediction 5: Amazon’s strides in opening brick and mortar stores will reach the next level. Watch for stores in Times Square, LA, Chicago and Atlanta.
  • Prediction 6: The “New Adult” movement will give way to an understanding that Adult Trade is driven by Baby Boomers.
  • Prediction 7: The call for Diversity in Publishing will grow fourfold as issues of race and immigration command political discussions on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • Prediction 8: Racial issues will grandly impact memoirs, history, political, poetry and social-issues books.
  • Prediction 9: The Middle East and its tensions will keep spilling over into Europe, US and Russia, with Publishers being targets for terrorism. This will affect what publishers choose to publish.
  • Prediction 10: Literacy in Africa will grow rapidly as the Internet takes hold of more children. This will open a new market for large publishers who will scramble to understand how it will function. It will not accept Euro-American paradigms of literature or book distribution.
  • Protesters have left messages on the wall outside a government building in Hong Kong.

    The state of self-publishing in China.

  • Prediction 11: As China tries to be more open to trade with other countries, another crisis of free speech will cause it to crack down again on authors who speak truth to power.
  • Prediction 12: Conversely, the technology has arrived to allow an underground press to thrive in China.
  • Prediction 13: Scavenger-hunt books, where readers gain status by scanning QR codes in different places—perhaps in back of associated books or at various airports—will emerge, and only those with sufficient status points can access the book.
  • Prediction 14: In a similar vein, limited edition titles will have a new function, where only the crowdfunding sponsors get a copy of said edition.
  • Prediction 15: Chapterbook sampler direct sales. Consumers receive a copy of a chapter book that has excerpts from 5-24 books, each of which can be ordered in ebook or POD format for immediate delivery, a sort of “chunky book catalog.”
  • Prediction 16: Publishers, especially indies and small presses, will be creating book catalogs that are reader friendly, and mailing or handing to consumers directly. These catalogs will have “buy-now” links and QR codes for immediate download or POD printing.
  • Prediction 17: Attention marketing will greatly benefit ebook sales. Researchers can determine from smartphone usage which consumers are currently bored. Advertising ebooks via excerpts to this market segment will have a high conversion rate. Book-recommendation apps will blend well with attention marketing, yet still enjoy consumer permission.
  • Prediction 18: A new style of book club, where readers can order feature titles via emojis or hashtags.
  • Prediction 19: Location-sensing apps that give scavenger-hunt-style clues to users will be an exciting new format of Be-the-Sleuth stories. The traveling Sherlock Holmes museum exhibit is a harbinger of sleuthing apps to come.
  • North African Children reading a tablet

    The window to the world is now open to everyone.

  • Prediction 20: The social-conscience movement will reward authors from developing countries who write to lift themselves from abject poverty.
  • Prediction 21: Artificial intelligence can now write and tell stories that follow an author’s style. A writing tool will emerge that can write a story from an outline in whatever author’s voice is desired.
  • Prediction 22: Artificial intelligence software can now interact with users by telling stories in age-appropriate language and in pacing and style best suited to its audience, and it can answer questions in mid story. This technology is already being used in children’s toys.
  • Prediction 23: Now that artificial-intelligence technology has passed the Turing Test (i.e., a human cannot tell the difference between a human and the technology in blind communication), marketers will use it to manipulate buzz marketing. Sales will explode at first, but there will be a backlash as consumers learn that the buzz is artificial. Products that depend on buzz, such as books, will suffer in the backlash.
  • Prediction 24: Authors’ publishing cooperatives will arise as a third viable option in the discussion of self-publishing versus traditional publishing.
  • Book peddler with a horsecart

    Pop-up bookstores on wheels will be the newest thing in book retailing.

  • Prediction 25: Pop-up bookstores will join the ranks of food trucks and pop-up fashion stores.
  • Prediction 26: Book group in a box. Book subscription service with an app and site that helps readers find discussion groups, some of which are organized by the subscription service at coffee shops, colleges and libraries. Private groups can also get party trays, coffee and wine.
  • Prediction 27: A trend in book covers: Minimalist monochromatic book covers that make title typefaces the stars of the covers.
  • Prediction 28: Adult happy meals that come with a free e-book from a digital catalog, with fees paid to authors or publishers for the rights.
  • Prediction 29: Apps that tell when friends or nearby subscribers are reading a book that you have also read or are reading.
  • Prediction 30: Book covers that invite inclusion in selfies. An example is a silly smile to use as a lower-face mask.
  • Prediction 31: Adult picture books, especially those that spoof or mimic popular children’s picture books, will become a short-lived fad.
  • Prediction 32: Watch Shakespeare & Co. for the next phase in print-on-demand: in-store 3-minute print-on-demand kiosks. Probably with 30-minute citywide delivery guarantee and satellite kiosks in supermarkets, colleges and perhaps Starbucks. And it’ll go national to fill the Borders void. If Shakespeare & Co. doesn’t, Amazon will.
  • Prediction 33: Consumers are demanding more engagement in design, manufacturing and sales efforts of most all products. This means even more social media efforts for writers, but also more engagement by publishers and booksellers. This will help give a boost to independent publishers and booksellers.
  • Prediction 34: Independent authors will push the speed of publishing to an intense rate. In the time that a Big 5 publishing house must wait between deal announcement and title release, dozens of author-published titles will swoop in on the concept.
  • Prediction 35: Author-run blogs have hit the saturation point and do not effectively attract readers except in very rare cases. The next big jump is the author-run app that engages communities of readers rather than displaying static posts.
  • Prediction 36: Gamification of novels, characters, and author branding will become a hot marketing tool, but once shown to be a hot success, the parade of clones will diffuse this tactic’s effectiveness rapidly.
  • Prediction 37: Digital assistants like Siri and Cortana are increasingly taking the place of the Google search bar. Giving these digital assistants the right information about a book or author will become more important than trying to be on the first search page via “search-engine optimization.”
  • Prediction 38: Books and mobile apps will come together in a large wave of popularity.
  • Prediction 39: Books will incorporate interactive gaming aspects, such as merging with geocaching or puzzle apps, especially for children’s and juvenile literature.
  • Sculpture of many hands holding up a chained book

    Collaborative writing is about to emerge. All hands on deck!

  • Prediction 40: Collaborative writing and crowd writing will start rolling out books with a following.
  • Prediction 41: Creation Marketing, where a book series is marketed by inviting would-be readers to add content, will prove somewhat successful for a major book brand. I suspect the Young Adult genre will lead this trend.
  • Prediction 42: Science fiction bounces back as STEM-education emphasis sees the first round of targeted students start their careers. The scientist-novelist is back in vogue.
  • Prediction 43: Star Trek turns 50: There are a number of books slated that tie-in officially and unofficially, and the movie Star Trek Beyond tops the anniversary cake. Look for memoirs, pop science, fan fiction, novels, tributes, humor, comic books, graphic novels, apps, and cosplay. Star Trek conventions will go all out. How’s your Klingon?
  • Prediction 44: Star Wars revival mania will see a great deal of merchandising long after the movie is gone. Space opera as a science fiction subgenre will see a bump in titles, although it will likely become saturated quickly.
  • Prediction 45: In the role-playing books industry, the Dungeons and Dragons Edition 3.5 Open Game License will re-emerge as a free platform for a host of sourcebooks and campaign settings by Kickstarted publishers, much to the chagrin of Wizards of the Coast and Paizo Publishing.
  • Prediction 46: The “plateau” in ebook sales (as a percentage of all book sales) will prove temporary when the iPhone 7 hits the market and the Kinfle Fire continues to sell below a $50 price point, and this ebook sales will begin climbing steadily relative to print books once again.
  • Prediction 47: The Maker trend and the Print-on-Demand trend will bring about Desktop Printer/Trimmer/Binder for on-site and in-home books on demand.
  • Portraint of William Shakespeare

    Bestselling writer discovered to have been dead for 400 years. Apparently, “Not to be” was the answer.

  • Prediction 48: Novelizations of Shakespeare plays will be a short but celebrated trend.
  • Prediction 49: Streaming-video of storytellers will begin to populate Periscope and You-Tube. This will be an effective way to promote authors and series.
  • Prediction 50: An obvious prediction: political books will trend, especially those that bash Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
  • Prediction 51: Puerto Rico’s troubles and Havana’s rebirth will put a spotlight on Caribbean and Latin American writers.
  • Prediction 52: Cookbooks will combine with meal-kit delivery, in a sort of online meal-kit catalog. Use the recipe number in the cookbook to order a meal kit from a food warehouse or grocer.
  • Prediction 53: American Girl® dolls are packaged with books. Bundling of toys and books will expand as publishers pursue more licensed characters—and as toymakers and licensors find out how easy it is to self-publish.
  • Prediction 54: Bluetooth® gloves will emerge as a new Wii-like technology for tablets and smartphones. Air typing will become one of the year’s surprise fads in high tech.
  • Prediction 55: A mini ebook reader that fits on the wrist or on the back of the hand will appear. While only mildly popular with readers, the device will be highly regarded by writers who will use it with a Bluetooth® keyboard (or air-typing gloves) as a space-saving means for typing.
  • Prediction 56: Binge reading of a book series will become a thing. Readers will be happy to pay a subscription fee for a branded series of novels that comes out regularly.
  • Prediction 57: Binge reading will also lead to series-omnibus ebooks.
  • Prediction 58: Binge reading will also lead to more trilogies and serial novels written by collaborative writers’ groups.
  • Prediction 59: To create a sense of exclusiveness and to compete with self-publishers, some frontline authors will experiment with limited runs in print as the only edition of a certain title.
  • Prediction 60: Consumers are showing growing distrust of large corporations and big brands. Farmers markets, indie stores and local-grown products have taken hold. Watch for growth of independent bookstores, small presses and independent authors.
  • Prediction 61: The trend to small and local will best be capitalized by Big 5 publishers, ironically enough, by the creation of boutique imprints. Oprah’s new imprint in the Macmillan fleet is just one example.
  • Prediction 62: The trend to small and local businesses will also bring about growth in bookstore-operated imprints.
  • Prediction 63: The diet-book pendulum is swinging back again. This year, readers will favor nutrition and fitness in a singular coordinated plan.
  • Prediction 64: There will be a four-way convergence of these diet-and-fitness books with fitness facilities, cookbooks and meal-kit delivery. And all this will be led by the food industry.
  • Man with Typewriter in a Coffee Shop

    Coffee shops are doing more to attract wireless writers.

  • Prediction 65: Coffee shops, fast-food restaurants and bars are suddenly welcoming the laptop crowd with electrical outlets at every table, free WiFi and relaxation of time limits. This means more screens on the go, which means more ebooks downloaded and more mobile writers.
  • Prediction 66: Virtual-office publishers and their predilection for instant books are one of the forthcoming trends that will keep big publishing houses worried.
  • Prediction 67: Watch for store-to-door delivery via a book-ordering app and local delivery services. This may be initiated by Amazon if ABA members or Barnes & Noble don’t make the commitment first.
  • Prediction 68: Books that seem to be far outside market norms will enjoy a greater share of the hashtag universe, thus realizing more buzz. People will read the more exotic and risqué books just so they can post it in updates.
  • Prediction 69: New-age thinking is making a comeback. Shambhala Publications has returned to Boulder, Colorado. The legal marijuana movement is growing. New Age books and bookstores will see a resurgence as alternative lifestyles merge more and more with the mainstream.
  • Prediction 70: The Single Lifestyle is quickly establishing itself worldwide. Restaurants are catering to lone diners, the housing industry has discovered tiny houses, and people are spending more time alone. The book industry will benefit, especially when combined with social media.
  • Prediction 71: Consumers are seeking authenticity in their products. Memoirs and novels based on real stories will trend upwards.
  • Prediction 72: The young adult and trade adult books must be sold to readers who grew up with smartphones as their primary source of entertainment. This will affect a book’s format, content, style, marketing and distribution. Expect another paradigm shift in publishing.
  • Prediction 73: We are social creatures, so we always go out to meet people. Reading is a solitary activity, and buyers will lean towards buying books from home. Bookstores that can become centers of community activity will thrive. And fortunately, most independent bookstores already fill this role.
  • Prediction 74: Bookstores that can project their brick and mortar store into the home will thrive for the same reason. Look for fast book delivery; personal recommendations by texting, phone, mail or email; and bookstore-branded bookmobiles.
  • Prediction 75: The modern consumer demands more “content” from the businesses they deal with. Companies that deliver high-quality entertainment to mobile devices will have the advantage. Thus, brands and retailers will turn to corporate self-publishing as a marketing tool, directly competing with traditional publishing and providing new opportunities for book writers.
  • Graduating Class of 2015

    Hey Millennials! Remember how you scoffed at job security? Well, the next shift just showed up.

  • Prediction 76: The Millennial Generation has grown up. It is about to surrender its role as market driver to the next, as yet unnamed, generation of young adults (some call them Gen Z). This new generation does not use laptops or keyboards, only mobile devices. They also have socialized ideas about intellectual property.
  • Prediction 77: Augmented reality is the next disruptive technology. VR Books are the inevitable evolution of ebooks and the failed vooks.
  • Prediction 78: Beacon marketing can do more than scan a customer’s presence and footfall. Exclusive books that are readable only through a beacon can use frontlist authors to draw readers to a mall or store. This will make an author’s strong platform that much more valuable.
  • Prediction 79: Jewish Fiction and Muslim Fiction will emerge as strong new genres in the Religious Fiction category.
  • Prediction 80: You will be able to read an online novel on a Facebook page, with the ability to post comments.
  • Prediction 81: The Big 5 publishing houses will strike hard to recoup lost market share from self-published authors, by buying up and saturating publishing technology. They will give CreateSpace and Kindle a run for the money with viable alternatives.
  • Prediction 82: Amazon will start buying up medium and large publishing houses to protect its market position in the face of competition.
  • Prediction 83: Watch for anthologies of long-form social media, where users write stories or articles as adjuncts to other stories and articles. Maybe 2016, maybe 2017.
  • Prediction 84: Social-media technology develops to market books directly to those whose tweets and updates indicate an immediate interest in related topics.
  • Prediction 85: An app on your smart phone will let your digital personal assistant (Siri, Cortana, etc.) read to you from any ebook on your device. It will also recommend further reading based on your remarks and preferences.
  • Prediction 86: In-the-moment publishing will evolve, and readers of such will happily ignore spelling and grammatical errors to experience author spontaneity. This will be a tight but enthusiastic market not unlike fan fiction.
  • Prediction 87: Facebook and Twitter are poised to offer one-click shopping cards, which could put a sizable dent in Amazon’s market share of book sales.
  • Prediction 88: “Binge watching” of dramatic TV series will spill over to book publishing; entire seasons of popular TV dramas will be novelized and advertised at the show’s closing credits.

  • So there you have it, for better or worse. The future is here, Happy New Year!

    Where do you agree or disagree? What is your prediction for publishing in 2016?

    Photo Credits

About David Rozansky

Publisher of Flying Pen Press; Author's Business Manager; Author of Fishnets & Platforms: The Writers Guide to Whoring Your Book; Aviator; Author; Adventurer.
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