The Future of Reading : Trends of 2014
Technology has been disrupting the publishing industry and book selling for the past two decades. Despite that, a few concepts still remained the same: the structure of the narrative (stories must have a beginning, middle, and end); the necessary involvement of authors, publishers, editors and distributors; and the boundary between physical objects – printed books and the digital domains. This is no longer the case. Let me introduce you some disruptive trends in the publishing industry in 2014 identified by the experts:
The never-ending story, or book serialization
Current “transmedia” storytelling trends extend the story across a wide range of platforms, from books to film and television, to social and interactive media. This serves an obvious business purpose, turning these works into franchises that can be sold and resold. It’s also forcing authors to rethink old concepts of story structure and is subtly influencing a new generation of readers. So it wouldn’t come as a surprise that, similarly to TV-series, we will soon have never ending book series, continuing for years. And not just book series, but even chapter series.
Bookstores as print-on-demand showrooms
Bricks-and-mortar retailers have realized that in order to survive they need to sell more than just books—they need to sell the experience of buying books. That is the reason why we see bookstores adding cafes and merchandise to supplement revenues, while becoming community hubs with readings, performances, and quiet spaces to study. The wide spread of print-on-demand technologies will allow them to mitigate the ongoing decline in the industry and supply special-order deluxe volumes, as well as ordered taken on the spot.
Further growth of self-publishing
Self-publishing will continue to grow even as ebook sales at publishers stagnate. In 2013, growth in ebook sales stagnated. The way self-publishing has taken off in the U.S. and currently expanding in Europe, it’s easy to imagine that sales will continue to grow in 2014.
Before, even the idea of computer-generated literature was the object of jokes and sci-fi stories. The current reality is different. Take House of cards as an example. Though the scripts were the products of human writers, Neflix used its enormous customer data to identify the talent, the themes, plot points, and scenes that would keep viewers on the edge of the seat. It bought House of Cards based on what it knows about the viewing habits of its 33 million users—it knew which and how many users watch movies starring Kevin Spacey, and, through its tagging and recommendation system, how many sat through other similar political dramas. It has even shown different trailers to people depending on their viewing habits.So it will come as no surprise if big data, which can measure everything from who’s reading what and where to how long someone spends on each page will create more of such data-driven projects.
In 2013, access to Google Glass was limited. Soon however the devices will be more affordable. What does this mean for reading? There are numerous possibilities, but one is certain: reading as we know is going to change.
Current translation services are not quite good yet for literature, technical publications, or legal contracts, we all know it. And although it might seem far-fetched, the combination of algorithms, data analytics, and crowdsourcing might change that. Sooner than we think, instant text translation, combined with text recognition, will be available via augmented-reality applications for mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and wearables like Glass. So how much do you think that would disrupt the publishing industry and all its multilingual titles?
Monetizing the Author as Brand
In has become rather common for authors to provide free content on blogs and to interact with fans on public forums in order to establish their own “brand”. It could also be possible that authors will bundle exclusive paid social and content channels with books, giving loyal fans premium access to content. They could go even further to combine it with serialization trend and crowd source the next chapters of their books, based on the success of the previous chapters.