Our 2014 Prediction: The Future Looks Bright
At a writer’s conference recently, I gave a presentation highlighting some forthcoming holiday and winter books. I titled the talk “A Sneak Peek at Next Year’s Bestsellers.” When I opened my PowerPoint and the first slide appeared onscreen with this title, a woman in the audience smiled and asked: “Have you consulted an oracle?”
Ah, if only. If only we had an oracle to tell us which books would most appeal to readers. If only we had a crystal ball to guide us in which new technology to invest, and to tell us which inventions and new systems will endure and best facilitate progress.
Since we don’t have an oracle, we must put our best judgment to work, informed by our experience, our knowledge of trends and patterns current and past, and supplemented by reading, researching, talking to experts, and a dash of instinct for good measure. That’s the mix we use to determine what course we will follow in our publishing decisions. We do our best, and then we hope that we have chosen wisely.
In this, our year-end tips & trends issue, we do our best to provide you with information and guidance that will help you chart your course into 2014. We’ve drawn on experience and knowledge of the market, talked to numerous experts, and hereby serve it all up for your edification!
In our Corner Office interview, Paul Belfanti, director of content architecture at Pearson, describes how the company is moving toward open EPUB standards that will enable the industry as a whole to streamline the process of creating electronic publications. In a story called “Building a Social Hive” a range of publishers and social media experts tell you how to turn your tweets and posts into a thriving customer base. Our story on direct to consumer sales provides advice on how to successfully approach this distribution channel, one that is rapidly expanding and will continue to grow in importance.
On the more oracular side, in Future Think, our panel of forward-looking experts share their insights into what the important trends of 2014 will be. In “Business as Unusual,” a number of publishing mavericks talk about how they have created original business models that are taking them into fresh territory with new sales possibilities. (One of these innovators, Evan Ratliff, co-founder of Atavist, is pictured on our cover posing with his cat Henry.) And finally, in our Show Notes, section, we’ve distilled some of the key ideas that emerged from our Publishing Business Conference & Expo, ideas that will serve as a springboard for future development.
In looking forward, I have also thought back to my first job in publishing. I began my career at a company called Pergamon Press, a publisher of scientific journals and upper level college textbooks. No one knew what the company name meant, or how to pronounce it (purr-ga-MON), so I frequently had to explain that the UK-based company, owned by British media mogul Robert Maxwell, was named after an ancient Greek city in which there was a famed library and an altar to Athena, goddess of wisdom. Athena’s face graced our company colophon, and it was to her shrine that those in need of insight would travel. Thinking of this, I realize that, funny enough, from the beginning of my publishing career I did in fact have an association between publishing and oracles.
Need a sneak peek at next year’s bestsellers? I got it covered!
Related story: Building A Social Hive