The past 20 years have brought many changes in how books are marketed and sold, much of it caused by technology changes and the economy. In 1993 there was no Amazon (they didn’t start selling books until a year later). There was barely a World Wide Web. The first browser had been introduced (Mosaic), but it would be another nine years before Firefox came into our homes. Chrome at that time was just something I polished on my car’s bumper. Google first appeared in 1998; Facebook, 2004; YouTube, 2005; and the first tweet happened in 2006.
With the above happening in the last two decades, let’s take a ride 20 years in the future and view three different scenarios of where we will be in the book-publishing world and technology.
Scenario #1: Printed books are no more. The last bookstores closed in 2025. All publishing houses seize to exist and instead have morphed into an online presence where books are written and published as they are written. To see them we use our EyeClicks, special glasses where are eye movements control the lines and pages of the downloaded digital material. You can also read your favorite stories on your wrist pad, a device that at first looks like a watch, but when you double tap, a 9-inch screen unfolds for easy viewing. Book agents are also a thing of the past. They now have retired or work for one of two remaining publishers, where they try and secure the rights to an author’s work. Most authors publish on their own sites, and it won’t be long before the last remaining publishing companies are gone too.
Scenario #2: The increase in digital publishing sales has settled in at 75% for YA and Adult, 50% for children’s books. Printed books are still available and enjoyed by many. Independent booksellers keep the format alive. There are fewer publishing houses but they continue to offer books in a digital format or P.O.D. (Print on Demand). Large first run printings are no more as demand drives the market. Books are printed only when ordered. There are fewer agents as an increasing number of authors control their own work.
Scenario #3: No change from what we have today. There are still traditional publishing paths or self-publishing. Technology is faster, lighter, and available everywhere.
Am I way off with any of these predictions? Which one would you hope for in 2033?