Yesterday I put in writing my predictions for writers in 2012. As promised, today I’m going to consult my crystal ball to get some insight into what readers will see. (Mist swirling in ball. Vickie straightening turban, murmuring magic words and drinking wine. Much wine)
Magic Eight Ball Crystal ball says nothing. Or at least not much.
And that’s the way it should be. Sometimes writers forget that readers don’t see the man behind the curtain the way we do. Sit in a bookstore and watch and listen to the customers (try not to get arrested for stalking). Hang in some reader forums if you can find any that haven’t been taken over by hungry writers.
Most readers have no idea what’s happening in the publishing industry, nor do they care. Most readers can’t tell a traditionally published book from a self-published book, nor do they care. Most readers don’t know what midlist is or what a fair digital royalty rate is. Nor do they care.
Therefore, the changes that seem world-altering to authors will be subtle or non-existent to readers. A few of the more observant may notice the differences below, but most probably will not.
- Bookstore closures will slow. Now that the Borders are gone, the few remaining (Barnes & Noble, Hastings, Books-a-million, and a few hardy independents) will batten the hatches and try to ride out the storm. Sure, we may lose a few more, but the mass closures of 2011 should not recur. So people will still be able to drive to a bricks-and-mortar store and buy books, though they may have to drive a bit further.
- A-list authors and breakouts like Roberts, Patterson, Rowling, King, S. Collins will gain percentage of shelf space in discount stores like WalMart as fewer midlist and new authors appear (see yesterdays predictions for writers to understand why). But the change will be gradual, and therefore go unnoticed by many readers.
- A few names readers are accustomed to seeing and buying won’t be found on the shelves. Last week alone, I spoke to three midlist authors who are abandoning traditional publishing to go the indie route. Hopefully their readers will find them online.
- Readers will continue to be inundated with e-reader ads. Sales will slow a bit after the Christmas rush, but there will still be an uptrend in electronic reading adoption. Other readers will continue to hold out. Unfortunately, their reading choices will gradually shrink as midlist authors jump ship and publishing houses begin offering e-book only lines for their newer talent. But again, the change will be so slow that I doubt many readers will notice.
- Books will be cheaper than ever for those who do adopt electronic reading. They’ll find so many books ranging from free to $2.99 that they will never have to buy a more expensive book again if they don’t want to.
- Among those cheap books, there will be bad books. Readers will have to become adept at sorting the wheat from the chaff in order to get the most out of their reading time. There will also be so-so books and many great books.
- Retailer tools will continue to improve to help readers find the great books.
- Readers will band together through social media just as authors have. They will share reviews and recommendations and price deals to help with that chaff sorting.
- Readers who embrace electronic reading will find a wider range of stories and voices than ever before available to them.
- Readers will continue to love great stories, and support the authors who write them.
Those are my predictions. Guess I’ll check back at the end of 2012 and see how I did.
Meanwhile…hang in there…coming soon to Amazon.com, my new romantic fantasy novella: