Books Front Matter

Let’s Check In: 2016 Predictions and 2017 Trends in Book Publishing

At the start of each year, industry analysts take a stab at predictions and trends for the year ahead. This exercise is usually a mix of fun forecasting and serious strategizing. Before diving into 2017 trends, let’s see whether 2016 predictions met their marks.

How did 2016 trends stack up?

With all the change in the publishing industry the past few years, many analysts entered 2016 optimistic but uncertain. Here were three trends they forecasted for last year:

  1. Mobile and electronic readership growth
    As eBook numbers continued to rise, most predictions for 2016 saw mobile and electronic as unstoppable. What actually happened? While the number of adults reading eBooks went largely unchanged, more people turned to smart devices as their reading mediums. To figure out a better pricing and sales plan for electronic content, the focus for 2017 is providing book formats readers can access from their smart devices as phones are increasingly choice devices for eReading.
  2. Audio storytelling on the rise
    At the beginning of 2016, analysts predicted audiobooks would be a bright spot in the publishing world. And how right they were! According to a Good e-Reader article, “The global audiobook industry is currently evaluated at $3.5 billion dollars and the United States is currently the largest singular market with $1.8 billion dollars in audio sales in 2016 and this was a 31% increase from 2015.”
  3. Focus shift to international markets for print
    Whether the focus was on distributing English language titles in areas where English as a second language has a strong presence or undertaking translations for foreign sale, many publishers saw a foreign market for print titles. Were they right? Partly. Foreign sales are up, and analysts are still urging authors to explore publishing opportunities outside traditional U.S. markets. The growth, though, isn’t only in print. Foreign eBook sales are also on the rise.

So, what are the insights for 2017?

  1. Strong year for small publishers and indie authors
    As sales continue to remain flat or even decline for big traditional publishing houses, authors independently publishing and small publishers will likely be able to continue to gain market share.
  2. Audiobook growth, particularly in the foreign market
    According to a Written Word Media article, “The Pew Research Center reported an increase in audiobook listeners in 2016, with 14% of survey respondents saying that they listened to books. Additionally, The Association of American Publishers reports that audio remains the fastest growing format.”
  3. Marketing will make all the difference
    Success will likely come to publishers and authors who become content marketing experts. Employing a range of tools including email marketing, social media campaigns, lead generation, search and social advertising, and search engine optimization will become the norm for publishers who want to sell titles and grow their reader bases.

Wait and see

With the state of flux that’s been the norm for the publishing industry over the past few years, it’s no easy task to forecast where things are headed. As those in the industry continue to figure out how to optimize in this digital age, we predict the future will remain as much based on speculation as past experience.

Need assistance solidifying your publishing plan for 2017? Contact your Sheridan representative for a consultation.

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