Thursday, December 31, 2009

2020 Vision: Digital Predictions for 2010 Part 1

So Christmas and another year are over and the New Year beckons. We are now at the end of a decade that has given us the iPhone, Facebook, MySpace, Celebrity everything, instant ‘x factor’ stars, Harry Potter, Dan Brown and Twitter. Will we be equally moved in the next ten years and will we recognise the booktrade in ten years time?

We can’t predict the next decade but we are confident of what we see in the year ahead.

1. Google Will Change All

Whichever way the court decides, the final outcome will influence publishing for many years.

If the settlement is pushed through, overnight we will see the emergence of the biggest digital bookseller, library and aggregator. The covers will certainly come off the scanners and anything that moves will become fair game. Others will follow and it will be interesting to see the reaction of the BRR (Books Rights Registry), APA and Authors Guild and whether they turn to litigation or just switch on the meter? What is certain is that there will be much litigation. If the BRR have attempted due diligence to trace the rights owner then some will say it safe for others to also adopt orphans. Will publishers assume rights or do their own diligence and check those old contracts?

If the settlement is rejected many will see it as a huge digital step backwards. We would see the rejection as a step forward and a call for all to engage in the process of redefining copyright in the 21st century as opposed to sleepwalking backwards to afraid to stand up to the behemoth. Maybe the rejection will allow those such as the; UK, Canada, Australia, who were dragged naively into supporting it, the opportunity to walk away from the pressure from their bigger brothers.

2. Libraryworld

The library is under threat from all quarters as it faces the digital age and tries to seek its own mission within it. We have written much about the real conflict between the High Street and the Library on the conflicting business models, culture and management but in the Uk now face the greatest threat of all in the naive ramblings and ideology of a Minister who is clearly ill advised and not fit for office. Margaret Hodge has thrown down her vision of the library like a drunk spewing up excess liquor after a night on the tiles. She wants 24 x 7 library services and sees them competing with Amazon. We think she has paid too much to get ill advice and hope that she gets her comeuppance at the forthcoming election.

However, the libraries do need to be given some clarity of digital direction that aligns to the resources they have. You can no longer make a librarian into a bookseller than a publisher into one. You may hit the odd success but will fail in the main as the skill set is different and there application very incomparable.

We see lots of soul searching in UK libraryworld in 2010 and many standing on the side ready to dump digital content and services into the mix.

3. Promoting, Marketing and Book Information

The use of the digital content to support, market and sell all books is going to grown significantly.

Direct marketing of review and inspection copies will gain ground not only in those sectors who have adoption processes but across all. Sharing annotations and reviews offers significant value and adds a digital opportunity to the process.

Catalogues today are often inefficient but a necessary evil. The carry a high cost and little intelligent feedback but these can now be addressed by ecalaogues. The question is whether the ecatalogue is a mere replication of the physical glossy or a dynamic piece of direct marketing whose usage can be fully monitored and analysed. As a result Marketing spends will increasingly become more focus and direct.

Finally we are approaching a step change in bibliographic data similar to that we experienced in the late 90s when jackets first exploded onto the market. The change is not so much about defining the information but about how it is communicated between trading entities and packaged.

4. Sales Information

We have as an industry focused our standards efforts on ONIX to the front end and in describing bibliographic and metadata, but have spent little effort looking at the rear end and sales information and reconciliation in a digital environment.
We see the standards bodies finally waking up to this omission and recognising the efforts needed to reconcile digital sales in this new digital age.

Tomorrow we will conclude our 2020 predictions.

1 comment:

Katy W said...

Thanks Martyn for writing this article. I thought your point about e-catalogues was particulary key - there is a very interesting opportunity here for publishers to create something dynamic. A while back we did our own feature on publishing in the future, where we asked industry insiders to imagine publishing in 2025. If youre interested the link is