The year 2020 is now in sight. It’s important to take stock of where you are and where you want to go periodically. A new year provides a great chance to do just that.
The five book publishing trends for 2020 presented here are meant to help you take stock of your publishing and marketing activities so that you can remain viable and effective for another year.
1. Self-Publishing Will Continue to Skyrocket
Self-publishing is showing no signs of slowing down. Between 2016 and 2018, the number of self-published print books increased by over 400,000 each year. Here is the breakdown:
- 2016: 657,062
- 2017: 1,060,821
- 2018: 1,547,341
The majority of these print books—1,416,384 in 2018—were published through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Amazon allows anyone to produce a print or ebook through their service free of charge. This means that anyone who wants to publish a book now can with no entry barrier.
Since 80% of people surveyed feel they have a book inside them, the number of self-published books will continue to skyrocket as more people learn that they can actually publish that book inside of them easily and at no-cost.
As the number of books published rises, the number of book choices readers have increases. “Choice overload” is real. In fact, a recent study found that 42% of consumers admitted to abandoning a planned purchase altogether because there were too many choices. Authors who want to sell books will have to convince people to choose their books over all the others available.
2. Audiobooks Will Continue Their Rise in Popularity
The audiobook format is booming. Over the past few years, the number of audiobooks produced has increased, the revenue from the sales of audiobooks has grown, and more people are listening to audiobooks. This trend shows no sign of slowing down.
According the Audiobook Publishers Association (APA), there has been double digit revenue growth in audiobooks year over year for the past seven years. U.S. audiobook sales in 2018 rose 24.5% from the previous year.
Audiobook listening is also on the rise, as supported by data from The Infinite Dial 2019, which shows 50% of Americans age 12 and older have listened to an audiobook (that’s 144 million people). This is the first time that audiobooks’ consumer penetration has reached the 50% mark, up from 44% in 2018.
Do you need to get on board with audiobooks? If your books are selling well in print and digital format, making these titles into audiobooks can help you reach a broader audience and bring in more book sales and revenue.
3. The Competition for Reading Time Will Continue to Be Fierce
Reading faces stiff competition for consumer attention from other entertainment activities. According to The NPD Group, nearly three out of four consumers in the U.S. reported reading a book or listening to an audiobook in the past six months. Even though there is plenty of reading going on, NPD survey respondents reported reading roughly 9 percent less this year than they did last year overall.
This downward trend is not going anywhere but down. With the ease of watching video, many people are turning to this medium for their entertainment. In fact, Cisco predicts that 82% of all consumer web traffic will be video in 2020 and Wyzowl says that 79% of consumers currently prefer watching video to reading about a product.
So, while the number of books self-published has increased exponentially, the amount of time people spend reading is decreasing. This means that finding readers for your books keeps getting more difficult.
Every author should be involved in literacy efforts and promoting reading. You should be recommending books—other than your own—to your audiences as well as reminding your audience of the incredible health benefits of reading.
4. Discoverability Will Be Increasingly Challenging
Gone are the days when authors easily found readers for their books. The number of books available on any given topic is astounding. The challenge to get a book to rise to someone’s attention in this field of fierce competition has become increasingly challenging.
In addition, the sharp decrease in organic traffic to websites from engine searches is not going to be reversed. Google will continue to capture the majority of their engine searches, keeping people on their own sites. The increase in voice search via smart speakers means that the number of options given for search terms will continue to decline. Comscore research estimates that in 2020, half of all internet searches will be through voice.
Successful authors will be those who actively build an audience who trusts them. Building such an audience takes deliberate marketing that includes media exposure through multiple books, social media presence, speaking engagements, articles in print and online publications, and podcast and radio and television interviews.
5. Emphasis on Green Initiatives and Sustainability Will Increase
The price of paper has been rising over the past few years. This is because the demand for paper products keeps increasing. e-Commerce has driven the demand for cardboard packaging—a paper product. Increasingly people are becoming concerned about the sustainability of forests due to our paper consumption.
Most American paper products come from Canadian forests. Between 1996 and 2015, more than 28 million acres of these forests were logged, mostly through clear cutting. New trees will take decades to mature. To work toward increasing sustainability for paper, a few companies are beginning to innovate with producing more sustainable paper products and greener packaging.
One company in Australia has developed books made from stone. Karst notebooks are made by mixing ground slate stones with a small quantity of resin (a type of plastic)., These notebook pages feel like paper, but are waterproof and tear-resistant. The books are fully recyclable, biodegradable, and carbon neutral.
Many consumers, especially Millennials, want to know that businesses they frequent are socially and environmentally conscience. These consumers prefer to purchase from companies that are using some of their profits to help make the world a better place. As an author, you can address this concern with your readers by choosing to give a portion of the proceeds of your book to a good cause.
I encourage you to make one of your New Year’s resolutions to never stop learning, but to continue to grow in knowledge and tools to be effective in your publishing and marketing efforts. As one step to keeping that resolution, I invite you to join Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA).
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