The Year Ahead: 2011
I recently looked back at the year in e-books…there were tons of changes, of course. I figured it was time to look ahead.
First, though, let’s see how I did when I looked ahead to 2010.
Overall, I think I did okay. Here were my predictions then:
More platforms for Kindle books
This one was easy, but it definitely happened. I speculated about a Kindle reader app for Android, for example, and that’s here.
The nook will get a major software update
I’m calling this one a hit…they did do a big update, in addition to adding the NOOKcolor.
Kindle DX International will be released
No new six inch model for the Kindle
I thought they’d update the K2, but they introduced the K3 as well. That’s a definite miss…I didn’t see the best-selling Amazon store item ever coming down the pike
Color E Ink
I thought there would be a well-known color E Ink EBR (E-Book Reader)…but that the Kindle would not have a color screen in 2010. I got the latter, but I’m not going to claim the former.
Dualume/Dual screen devices
I said there would be devices with two screens, one E Ink and one backlit…and that they might be expensive. The Entourage eDGe is just that…at $549, it fits the relatively expensive prediction as well.
Market Share Shift/Independent publishing will rise
I was predicting a shift towards independent publishers, and I think that has happened…but without sales figures, it’s hard to tell. We may get a better sense of what happened in 2010 later in 2011. I thought Random House might slip for blocking text-to-speech…but then, others of the Big Six started blocking it. Random House balanced that by not doing the Agency Model. Made it harder to assess.
I could have been even more optimistic…it’s amusing that I said, “500,000 at least” in the Kindle store when it’s closer to a million than 500,00. I overestimated the review of e-books in major outlets, but I was right about older e-books becoming available. I said that e-books would grow to “at least ten percent” of the US publishing market. That’s going to be very close to on target.
Enhancing the Kindle
I was right that we would get an organizing system, and that it would be like tagging rather than a drag and drop folder system. I was right about Kindle book gifting and password protection, but wrong about parental controls, customizable sleep mode pictures, and installable character sets (for different languages).
Access to more books for the Kindle
I thought Amazon might enable DRM EPUB and thereby lending from public libraries.
I overestimated this, but we have seen some more adoption of e-textbooks. Tablets are helping with that, and at least one school issued all students a Kindle. I thought the MLA would have an academic citation format, just as the APA does, but that didn’t happen.
Thoughts for 2011
An Amazon Android Tablet
I think this is going to happen, and could be a really big success. The Kindle 3 is Amazon’s bestselling product of any kind ever in its history. There is certainly room for them to introduce a backlit, web-surfing, movie-streaming tablet. I wouldn’t want it to be called a Kindle (I want that reserved for reading-centric devices)…I’ve been suggesting it be called the Amazon Current. I’d want it promoted as “Kindle Powered”, or something along those lines. They’d promote it for their streaming video service, among other things. I think the Kindle has established Amazon as a hardware maker…even to the point where that would appeal outside of serious readers. It wouldn’t be a replacement for a Kindle for that serious reader group, but an addition to it. Non-serious readers would go for the tablet. Could it compete with other tablets? Yes, I think it could…it wouldn’t be the top tablet, but there would be a place for it. It’s funny, but I think it could be marketed as super-easy to use…it could be many technophobe’s first real internet device. Apple was originally marketed as easy compared to Windows, but I think non-technies see it as a brand of the techno-elite. Could the device have a different operating system than Android? Maybe. I’m thinking this may happen for a couple of reasons, but one is the recent press release from Amazon where they talked about how well the Kindle 3 sold.
Jeff Bezos said:
“We’re seeing that many of the people who are buying Kindles also own an LCD tablet. Customers report using their LCD tablets for games, movies, and web browsing and their Kindles for reading sessions.”
“…people don’t have to choose”
Amazon also hired somebody recently who could help with this, and they previously bought a touch-screen company.
This could also be a larger screen…which might spell trouble for a new gen of the larger Kindle DX.
Web-E-Books become more popular
Amazon is going to enhance its Kindle for the Web to include entire books. This may be how casual readers choose to read e-books. Having a tablet to access a book on a website might work well for a family of both serious readers and casual readers. The casual person doesn’t need hardware specifically for reading, but can read on a tablet…like my hypothetical Amazon Current.
The Agency Model goes away
I don’t feel really secure in this, but I think it’s possible. It’s likely to happen when the first year of its use is up at the end of March of 2011. That’s would lead to a new negotiation…and Amazon has indicated that the people who have set higher prices have seen a slip compared to people who didn’t. I also think that legal action (such as the investigation by the Attorney General of Connecticut) may make it easier to just not renew than to get into the bad publicity and a fight about non-competitive actions. Simply drop it voluntarily, and that all goes away, most likely.
Ruling on the Google Settlement/Orphan Books Legislation
Why we don’t have a ruling on the Google settlement yet, I don’t know. Orphan books legislation could make many more books available and really be a boost to the US economy. Essentially, what it would mean is that, if a publisher can’t find someone to stake a claim to an out-of-market book, they can go ahead and digitize it and sell it. I don’t agree with that policy, personally, but I can certainly see it happening. The current administration would be seen as pro-business, which is good for them. The Republicans wouldn’t be as likely to strongly contest this, so it’s something they could get passed before the election becomes too front and foremost.
The iPad 2
This is a gimmie. I won’t count it in my hits next year.
E-book Market and the Kindle store
I think the Kindle store could hit two million titles by the end of 2011. I think e-books could be 25 percent or more of the US publishing market by the end of 2011. I also expect non-US and foreign language availability to greatly increase. E-magazines will gain a strong presence on tablets. Mass market paperbacks will continue to see market share erosion.
More text-to-speech access
I’m not saying we’ll see the blocking of text-to-speech access go away entirely (although I’d like to see that). Still, I’m noticing more books from companies that previously blocked that have the access. Companies may not announce it, because they want to reserve the option…but they may quietly move away from blocking it. If Random House splashily stopped blocking it, it would be a big move market-share enhancing move for them, though, and others would follow.
More active content
Games are big sellers in the Kindle store, and I think we’ll see a lot more of this. Some of it will just be ported over from cellphone apps. I think Dusk World shows real promise…we will probably see more interactive graphic novels like that. I think we’ll also see more utilities…datebooks, stock trackers, that kind of thing.
Enhancements to the Kindle
I’m sticking with parental controls as a prediction. Amazon is really pushing the multi-Kindle household, and people will start complaining in a big way about this if their kids are reading pornography that an adult on the account downloaded. I can see this as a culture wars issue. TVs have v-chips…e-books may need to have something. I don’t think a v-chip type product is the answer. I think perhaps having Collections for each of the Kindles or devices on the account. The parent would put the books in the Collection, and that’s what the child could access. Alternatively, there could be optional passwords on the Collections. I think we’ll see the mysterious microphone on the K3 come into play. It may be for recording voice notes, it may be for voice navigation (which would be a big plus for people with certain disabilities)…it may be for both. I think we’ll get better descriptions of the books on the Kindle, and more integration with Shelfari, which is owned by Amazon. That means more (optional) social networking. I think the apps will continue to improve, and that we’ll get more features there.
As I said last year, I predict we’ll see things I haven’t predicted.
What do you think? Will we see a sub-$100 Kindle? Will there be a fourth-gen Kindle? What’s Barnes & Noble going to do (besides sell a ton of NOOKcolors)? Will we see the Harry Potter books as e-books, maybe to tie into the last movie? Will we have color E Ink? Will dedicated E Ink readers get swamped by the new tablets?
Feel free to let me know.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.