Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2020 Vision: Review of 2010 and 2011 Predictions Part 1

At the end of 2009 we made 10 predictions for 2010 and today we quickly review the first 5 of these. The objective is to understand the shifts that actually happened and the pace and direction of change

1. Google Will Change All

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

The court still sits like the 'three monkeys' and continues to see, hear and speak no evil. In the void Google continues to move forward and gain acceptance within the industry. The issue of the orphan works remain swept under the carpet, but the issue remains. As Google flips its Editions into ebookstore the only outstanding question is whether the orphans will just get ‘published and be dammed’.

2011 Update: We see Google now changing our approach to delivery through the cloud platform and also as it refines its search, introducing a step change in how readers find books.Orphans will remain the prize sought and an issue unresolved.

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... the real conflict between the High Street and the Library on the conflicting business models, culture and management ... libraries do need to be given some clarity of digital direction that aligns to the resources they have...'

The issue has finally come out into the open, but the statements made by the UK PA this year continue to beg the question whether some are living in the real world, or are trying desperately in denial to support yesterday’s model. We all support libraries but we fail to find solutions past our own vested interests. The UK is not alone in the issue and the solution remains elusive to all.

2011 Update: We see the potential for Google to move into the public library space especially and with others such as OCLC offering new search and discovery for books. Amazon, B&N are now only one step from offering full rental and loans and this will pose interesting challenges and opportunities.

2. 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… Marketing spends will increasingly become more focused and direct... The change is not so much about defining the information (bibliographic), but about how it is communicated between trading entities and is packaged.’

Direct marketing has certainly started to gain pace, but the trade environment remains somewhat un-coordinated and focused. Its is if the publishers want to remain ‘as was’ with their existing physical channels and experiment with their direct to consumer with digital. The rise in social collaboration and feedback has yet to sink in, but Kobo’s offer and the continued growth of Facebook show clear direction with others such as Copia merely offering a short distraction.

2011 Update: This year will see a change in how we promote content. No longer are we straight-jacketed to a transactional view of metadata and bibliographic records. Content will be fully used to search and discover, promote and define content, in ways that yesterday’s records could never do. Yesterday, retailers’ systems held the key to extending metadata, tomorrow we will simply bypass these old road blocks to change.

Yesterday, publishers also‘made’ best sellers happen, but we now see a shift to readers deciding which books become best sellers. Social reader communication will tip the balance and continue to redirect publisher spend from marketing to the next guy down the chain, to marketing direct to the only one that matters – the consumer.

Ester Dyson once said that being able to find a needle in a digital haystack was key and perhaps Google’s big opportunity is to start to change search and discovery as Amazon did over ten years ago when it started to demand digital jackets.

4. Sales Information

‘We have as an industry focused our standards efforts on ONIX to the front end and in 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.’

Things moved, but such was the lack of industry leadership, services started to appear which offered to reconcile sales and royalties.

2011 Update: Why do we not properly address this glaring hole in our digital solution? As more digital sales are achieved reconciling these and being able to audit them across multiple vendors becomes an obvious target. Forget monthly reports and royalties why not in real time? We envisage movement as the pain of reconciliation becomes real. We also envisage that someone will offer digital audit facilities.

5. Digital Platforms, Channels and Consumers

‘This year will start to redefine ownership and see the entry of the streamed ‘read on demand’ model... Bookstores need to be included into the digital channel... The Mobile technology will free the ereader from its tethered PC... Price will continue to be a major issue. In a price war there is only one winner – the consumer. There is a need to separate digital from physical pricing and until some sanity is achieved the market will be unstable...’

This more than any other area was where the action was in 2010. The events speak for themselves and although we didn’t agree with all the results, such as the agency model, the emergence of the ebookstore and ibookstore certainly started redefine digital channels.

2011 Update: The Kindle and Kobo platforms have started to redefine ereading and free them from being tethered to single device dimension. The introduction of Bluefire and TXTR mobile readers and Adobe's ACS4 expanding solution continue this move towards interoperability and now Google have introduced the cloud. We envisage that we will now shift from devices, to reading and selling platforms which will be bad news for many device manufacturers, as readers become commodities.

We will see an explosion of tablets and although windows and others Operating Systems may make a brief appearance, the fight will be Apple versus Android and in retail will be between Google versus Amazon.

Agency will continue to be a big 5 issue but the rest will adopt a more sensible route. Ebook prices will fall and agency will not hold the line without some serious arm wrestling behind closed doors. Small independent publishers and authors can compete at price points the agency model will find hard to swallow. The question is how long the heads remain in the sand before the reality check boots in?

Finally, Apple will be seen as a hardware/platform driver and maybe not the iTunes/iBookstore many believed it would be.

Tomorrow we will look at the remaining 5 of our 2010 predictions

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