Someone earlier today asked me to talk a bit about what I thought the future held for ebooks, ereaders, and how that was going to impact publishing through 2011. Ouch! I agreed, and since I posted this elsewhere already, I thought I'd put it here instead so people can laugh at me in twelve months. Things are changing so FAST right now! I read an excellent powerpoint presentation earlier this evening on epublishing. Great stuff. His sales figures estimates were based off data that was about six months or so old though, so he was (get this) literally millions of units off. So I'm guessing here, based on trends I'm seeing in the industry. I'm pretty good at business trends, but I have to admit - I've been surprised a few times just in the past three months. I have ZERO doubts that I'll get some shockers in 2011 too. With that in mind... Looking into my crystal ball.... Which may or may not be functioning well right now, mind you! ;)
Predictions for 2011: Devices - EPUB solidifies as the main open format. AMZ maintains its lead as the dominant format, however, losing some market share as iBook builds on the continued success of the iPad, but still holding 2/3 of the market for Amazon. - Ereading Devices begin to coalesce into several main groups: dedicated eInk ereaders (long battery life, easier reading, but poor internet and less multipurpose), tablet computers (the iPad, Archos, and the numerous iPad clones planned by every major computer retailer for early next year), and pocket communications devices (basically, cell phones, often with video phone, often mini-tablets in their own right, with ereader functionality). None of these are dominant yet. Netbook sales plummet as tablet computers eat their market. - By the end of 2011, wireless internet companies are offering cheap tablet computers for free with two year 3G/4G contract (not so far out; the cheap ones are only $100-200 retail right now), giving millions more people access to mobile internet tablets (with ereader capability). - Amazon releases the color eInk Kindle. It sees sales as a niche product, since it costs more than the B&W eink, but doesn't play video or look as crisp as LCD tablets - so it's really mostly for readers who want to buy magazines and newspapers from Amazon.
Business - Borders declares bankruptcy to reorganize. They close most or all of their big box stores, moving to a mostly online retail position with minimal brick exposure. - At least three new ebook retailers take off to compete with Amazon, B&N, Borders, iBook, Sony, Kobo, and Smashwords. - B&N begins the process to close their large stores, shifting to smaller print on demand stores capable of producing fast, quality books from their e-inventory. This does not happen in 2011, but they begin the work to make it happen.
Publishing - Ebooks pass 25% of total consumer book sales. - Joe Konrath sells his millionth self-published Kindle book toward the end of the year (he's passed 200k for 2010). - New York Times sets up the ebook bestseller list, as they have announced they plan to do. Over 10% of the books on the list are self-published by the end of the year, with signs that this is growing. - No major publisher shuts down (I know some folks are predicting this, but I just don't see it, not next year anyway). However, we see more line consolidations and changes to infrastructure as publishers continue to prepare for the digital-primary publishing world.
There you go! Now it's in print, so when next December rolls around, we can see where I went wrong.