Guest Columnist: Will You Recognize the Industry in 10 Years?
Also over time, Wikipedia, Facebook and Google will morph into looking like each other in many ways (that is: search, community and information will all come from the same sources) and the new, meaningful sorting of sources will be vertical: by communities. This is complicated and evolutionary, but here’s a way to think about it: The bookmarks of the person who is your age and also a Yankees fan are a more useful navigation tool for you than what you’ll be offered at ESPN.com or SportsLine.com.
We’ll all be joining lots of communities online, chosen by our interests and values, and by referrals from our friends. And these will ultimately become the hubs of marketing. And of publishing.
The End of an Era
But we’re describing a world that is probably more than 10 years off. How far will we get in 10 years?
Ten years from now, there will still be more books sold that were printed centrally and warehoused for sale than all other ways combined, but the end of that era will be in sight.
Barnes & Noble will be the only full-line brick-and-mortar bookstore. It will sell used books as well as new ones, and we’ll be far along the road to it becoming one of only five organizations that really distribute consumer books nationally, although certain big, niche players, like Wiley, will maintain their own sales presence in the diminishing consumer printed-book market. Two of the others will be two of what are today’s “Big Six” general-trade publishers. The two left standing will have absorbed the other four. (This might be more than 10 years away.)
Another national distributor will be Ingram, which will be making most of its money on POD and digital distribution of publishers’ content through various Internet channels (what today we call “Web sites,” but which will have grown to be a large and extremely complex business, customizing information for a wide variety of displays).