Taking the Pulse of the Publishing Industry


Every new year, publishing guru Mark Coker releases his predictions for the industry in the upcoming year. How many of them have come true in 2018?

I came across this nifty article at the beginning of the year that is written by Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords. He puts up his annual predictions for the state of the publishing industry. There are things I like and don’t like about Smashwords, but I really do like Coker’s attitude and approach to Indie authors.

I’m going to skip over his feelings towards author independence (but strongly urge you to check it out and get involved in the problems he identifies over at his 2018 predictions).

As with any successful business, you’ve got to keep your finger on the pulse of the market. It’s worth evaluating exactly where we are and try to figure out where we are headed so that we can plan accordingly.

Coker’s negative predictions were that:

  1. 2018 will be tough on sales for books
  2. The glut of quality, low cost ebooks will get increase
  3. Barnes & Nobles will continue to get sicker
  4. Kobo will falter
  5. Amazon’s devaluation pressure (part of how Coker views the KU program, and rightly so,) will increase
  6. Single copy ebook sales will decline (also due to KU) and this will be across the board as part of the above
  7. Romance readers (the largest, most voracious group) will continue migrating to KU to get the most bang for their buck, which will ultimately hurt romance writers
  8. Despite the base of Romance books, larger traditional publishers will begin to reduce their commitment to the genre
  9. Email lists will get tired after authors continue to beat on them in order to shore up sales in the declining market and address owners will begin to unsubscribe in larger droves to protect their inbox
  10. Pressure will mount from Amazon who will want to reduce their 70% royalty rate (it used to be 35%, several years ago)

Here are some of his positive predictions:

  1. Audiobooks are going to be the next big thing
  2. Audible (Amazon’s audiobook subscription service) will finally see a bona fide competitor
  3. Readers will still pay for books that are worth reading
  4. New subscription services similar to KU will be unveiled by competitors
  5. Antitrust actions against Amazon will mount
  6. Indies will reassert control over their platforms (this is in response to all the effort they poured into building their Facebook audiences which the social media company has undermined by switching to a pay-system, and then changing it all up again multiple times in the first few months of 2018)
  7. Indie authors will begin looking into podcasting in addition to the audiobook services as a way to find and harness the power of audio readers.

Some of my regulars know that I write my blogs far in advance (except for my Monday updates and random ramblings). I’m actually writing this in the middle of a snow drift. School was just canceled and I’m booked that far out, so Coker’s predictions are still fairly new. As it turns to summer, however, it is a good point to stop and take the pulse of the market. How many of his predictions look to be true now that the year is nearly half gone? What does that mean for us and where do we go from here?

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