Trends for 2013

The New Year, 2013, is just around the corner. The Internet is already full of predictions of what will happen next year.

Trends

Some of the predictions I have read include that mobile spam will increase in volume, that Smart TVs will become a target for hackers, and that some online retailers will begin offering e-readers for free to entice customers to purchase more ebooks.

Most of these predictions are based on current trends. I, too, believe that based on current trends the following trends will continue in 2013.

1.       Small presses and self-publishing will continue to expand.

The number of self-published books produced annually in the U.S. has nearly tripled, growing 287 percent since 2006 according to Bowker. This study, recently released by Bowker, also estimated that over 235,000 books were self-published in 2011. Bowker’s report showed that CreateSpace dominated the print segment, with the creation of 58,412 titles (39% of self-published print books).  The leading ebook producer was Smashwords with 40,608 titles (nearly 47% of total self-published ebooks). Interestingly, Bowker’s report also included a small press category which showed that nearly 34,107 self-published books were from small publishers who produce 10 or fewer titles per year. In addition, print book production by small presses increased more than 74 percent between 2006 and 2011. Many new authors will join the ranks of self-published authors in 2013, as technology continues to make it inexpensive and easy to do so.

2.       Sales of ebooks will continue to grow.

eBook sales have been growing steadily since 2009. For most of 2012, ebook sales growth more than double over last year’s sales. This year, ebook sales made up about 25% of all book sales. Predictions indicate that they will make up 50% of all book sales by 2016. Even with sales of e-readers declining, people will continue to increase their digital reading. Tablets and Smart phones all offer users the same access to digital books with easy portability.

3.       The number of physical bookstores will continue to decline.

I recently wrote a blog post on “The Demise of Bookstores.” This post detailed the closing of physical bookstores over the past two years. Barnes & Noble recently reported that they will close about seven stores at the end of this year. They closed about seven stores at the end of last year also. Bookstores are no longer the primary method for getting your books into the hands of consumers.

4.       Online sales of books will continue to increase.

Some reports indicate that up to 49% of all books are purchased via the Internet. As ebook sales have grown and as physical bookstores have declined, the Internet has become the go to place to purchase books. This trend will grow in 2013.

We do not know the future, especially when the Lord will return and the world will end. Luke 12:40 states “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” I am not claiming to be a prophet and these are not predictions. However, I do believe that these trends are here to stay, at least for the next year, if the Lord tarries.

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Book-Scanning Robot

I am often amazed at the inventions people dream up.  American is known for being a country that spawns innovators and inventions. However, Japan may exceed our technology inventions though.

One new invention by a Japanese-based company, BFS-Auto, is a book-scanning robot. This robot can scan 250 pages a minute without cutting the book apart.  With a built-in fully automated page flipper and high-accuracy transfer to a flat document, this robot is slated to be placed on the market in 2013.

With this robot, out-of-print books can easily be changed into digital books. Libraries could use this book-scanning robot to make their complete collections available digitally.

Watch this video to see the robot in action.

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RFID in Books?

RFID, Radio-Frequency Identification, is the use of a wireless non-contact system that uses radio-frequency to transfer data from a tag attached to an object for the purposes of identification and tracking. Usually embedded into the object being tracked, RFID chips do not need to be visible to transmit data.

For the past couple of years, Walmart has added RFID tags to individual items in their store to track merchandise and inventory. Recently, a Texas school district issued students badges with embedded RFID chips in order to track the students’ location to reduce absenteeism.

Now, a book manufacturing company, Bindtech Inc., has developed the Smart Guard system. This system allows book publishers to track a book from the manufacturing process, through distribution, to the end user by embedding a RFID tag into each individual book. When books are returned for credit, publishers can tell which books are the ones they printed and which are counterfeits.

I truly did not know that “counterfeit” books existed. I am sure that this is not a concern for most small publishers. However, if you want to learn more about putting RFID tags into books, watch this video.

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An Avalanche of Services

Almost every week I am hearing about a new service for creating, selling, or sharing digital content. The number of new services seeking to profit from the rise of digital reading is astounding.

First came the book social networks such as LibraryThing, Shelfari, and GoodReads. Then came the digital content sharing sites such as Scribd, Google Docs, and Docstock. Next came social reading sites such as Authonomy, WeBook, Redroom, and Book Country where authors hoped to be discovered.

Now new sites using variations on these themes are popping up. One such new website is bookfarms.com. This website is a social library for digital content. It is an online portal that allows users to search for documents and books and then read, organize, print, download, and send them to your friends instantly. With bookfarms.com authors and publishers can upload content they want to share for free to be discovered by the community of readers.

Why would an author or publisher put up free material? As a marketing tool to drive consumers to buying their material. Using a teaser to hook people into wanting more can be an effective marketing tool.

The harder question to answer is: Which sites should authors and publishers focus their attention and time on? We all have limited time. Discovering which sites are the most effective for driving consumers to your books is not easy.

My best advice is, that unless you have a lot of time on your hands, stick with the older tried and true sites that have amassed a large following and have shown that authors and publishers are experiencing success. Once such site is GoodReads. With over 12 million members, it is a great avenue for authors and publishers to draw readers’ attention to your new releases.

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