Publishing Trends For 2019As we approach 2019, industry-altering book publishing trends from the past few years continue, while some new ones are also beginning to make a substantial impact. It’s important for authors and publishers to be aware of these shifts, perhaps for self-publishing authors above all. Especially since the marketplace is more competitive than ever.
The Decline Of ReadingWhile it becomes easier and easier to publish books, Americans are actually choosing to spend less and less time reading those books. The percentage of Americans reading for pleasure in their spare time has plummeted almost a third since 2004. In the same time period, digital publishing, print-on-demand services, and the rise of Amazon have made book publishing accessible to almost anyone. Back in 2014, it was estimated that on Amazon alone, a new book is published every five minutes. And it’s safe to expect that this number has only increased since then. So it’s clear that a rapidly growing number of books is flooding a generally shrinking market. In order to stand out in such a crowded marketplace, you’ll need to put as much effort as possible into every aspect of your publishing process, including editing, design, marketing, and distribution. Help from seasoned professionals is advisable. It isn’t enough to simply write quality content and expect it to make its way to readers. But it will also help to be aware of trends in how people are reading.
Print Books Still Reign SupremeFor one thing, it might surprise some aspiring authors to learn that ebooks are not even close to eclipsing print books in terms of popularity. In 2018, 67 percent of American adults said they had read a print book in the last 12 months, while only 26 percent said they had read an ebook. And that was actually down 2 percent from 28 percent in 2016. With print-on-demand services having eliminated the need for an expensive and risky print run, this data shows that authors should go the extra mile and offer a print book instead of going entirely digital. It takes no extra investment at all when using services such as Amazon’s. And you will greatly increase your access to readers that still read their books on paper.
Audiobooks On The RiseThough still lower than either print or ebook readership, the number of adults who said they had recently read audiobooks has risen steadily since 2011, reaching 18 percent in 2018, from only 14 percent in 2016. At this rate, it’s not hard to imagine that nearly a quarter of Americans could be listening to audiobooks in just a few short years. Digital audio accounted for 25 percent of all of HarperCollins digital revenue in the first quarter of 2018. Simon and Schuster has said digital audio sales rose a striking 43 percent in the same period. Audible UK’s revenues grew 45 percent from the previous year. While even one statistic like this is worth noticing, these numbers are echoed in figures from all over the industry. Audiobooks are taking off, with plenty more room to grow. While creating a quality audiobook takes a bit more effort and investment than offering a print-on-demand book, this is a great way to plug in to a growing segment of the book market. And since Americans are spending less time actually reading books, audiobooks are a way to reach “readers” that are commuting or using books to pass time during other activities. Audiobooks may prove to be the exception to the decline of leisure reading among Americans, and a book publishing trend likely to continue in 2019.
Hybrid PublishingAs for the need to stand out in the increasingly crowded market authors face in 2019, we can expect hybrid/collaborative publishing to continue to grow. This middle ground approach allows authors to retain the creative control and revenues of self-publishing, while enlisting the help of experts that can make sure the quality of their book and marketing efforts reaches a professional level. Instead of sacrificing control to a major publisher, hybrid publishing allows authors to stay in charge while paying only for the services they need. Particularly for new authors hoping to self-publish a book of professional quality, this is a great route. And dovetailing with 2019’s other major book publishing trend, the help from industry veterans and experts afforded by working with a hybrid publisher is also the best way to produce a professional-quality audiobook. With ever-increasing competition for self-published books, and the declining appeal of major publishers, hybrid publishing is positioned perfectly for an explosion in popularity. Though traditional publishing is steadily declining, higher quality marketing and production is increasingly crucial for successful self-publishing. Hybrid and collaborative publishing is set to take on a central role in the publishing world.
Marketing As An Ongoing ProcessWith so much activity on online marketplaces such as Amazon, book marketing will need to continue well-beyond your initial book release in order to keep attracting readers. Organic growth has become a bigger challenge, with new books released all the time, each one accompanied by a torrent of sponsored advertising from these new authors. Even successful, still-relevant books can be buried quickly. In 2019, serious authors will benefit from long-term marketing strategies with an ongoing monthly budget. Even though profit margins will be tighter as a result, the long-term benefits will make up for it. Without this continued attention, your book may become irrelevant quickly, losing visibility under an avalanche of newer releases in its category. Think of it as having your book available in a giant bookstore, crowded with millions of new releases. Creating an ongoing marketing campaign is like paying to keep your book on a display in the front of the store, with ads visible right when customers walk in, instead of letting it move to a shelf in the back. It will have a noticeable effect on sales. It’s a transitional time for the publishing industry and these changes will only accelerate through 2019. Technology is permanently altering the way books are produced, sold, and read. Staying a step ahead of these book publishing trends can make the difference between turning out a bestseller or just another drop in an ocean of self-published work that falls short of its full potential.
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