The Year Ahead: 2014
This is my annual post where I look ahead to the next year. I’ll make some predictions, but I’ll warn you ahead of time…I don’t always get things right.
First, let’s see how I did with my predictions and speculation for 2013:
Resolution of the Agency Model in the USA
Hit. I did think Apple might settle, and they didn’t, but overall, I was right that it ended.
Another Major Merger Announced
Miss. I thought after Penguin and Random House we’d likely see two more big publishers merge, and it didn’t happen.
Nothing Really Groundbreaking in Hardware
Hit. This year was much more about services.
More Well-Known Publications Going Digital Only
Hit. The Onion and PC World went to digital.
Miss. This still seems like a good idea to me: brand name authors banding together in publishing companies, perhaps luring over their editors…but it didn’t happen.
Direct Distribution from Publishers
Miss, I think. 🙂 I expected traditional publishers to prominently allow you to buy books directly from them…either through their sites or social media. This doesn’t look like it has happened to me.
Book Production Services
Miss, sort of. It’s available on CreateSpace for p-books: Amazon Professional Publishing Services. I’m not sure that wasn’t there before 2013. I thought we’d see it for e-books.
Social Structures from Amazon
Hit, if you count them buying Goodreads.
Account Management Improvement
I’m going to call this mixed. Cloud Collections were intended to be a step in this direction.
Subscription “All you can eat” plans
People besides Amazon did this (Scribd, Oyster). I was thinking Amazon might, so I’ll call this mixed.
Okay, let’s make some guesses about 2014!
Kindle Unlimited: Amazon does an “all you can eat” plan
I think this has become a lot more likely. Amazon already has it for kids, and rumor is that they’ve been talking to publishers about it. They could open it with mostly independently published books, but they would hopefully get HarperCollins or some other tradpub (traditional publisher) to join in. You’d be able to read as many books as you wanted out of a select group. I could see this being discounted with Prime, or available without it. Let’s say… about$20 a month without Prime, $5 with it. Once people become Prime members, they spend a lot more money, so this could work economically.
New lines of hardware from Amazon
Sure, I expect a new Paperwhite, and something new in the tablets. I do think the current line-up of tablets was a success, but they could add a few things. I think it’s more likely that we see some television solution from Amazon (something with Miracast, perhaps, to work with the Fires), than a bunch of radical new tablets obsoleting this year’s. Adding a rear camera to a 7″ tablet, for example. Voice commands could definitely be in the offing. We might see a phone as well. I think it will feel more evolutionary than revolutionary for tablets and EBRs, and then whole new lines, like the TV thing and a phone. In other words, I think they’ll start building off of the Kindle Fire HDX as a hub. It does already interact with non-Fire Kindles, by the way, through Whispersync and Cloud Collections, to name two things.
A major change at Barnes & Noble
My timelines are sometimes accelerated (I predict something for one year, and it happens the next), but I think it’s time. Does that mean they shutter the stores, like happened with Borders? Not necessarily…but it could mean that there is a major change in ownership or philosophy (they might only carry a few books for example), or, a bankruptcy with a possibility of recovery. Sure, they’ve just given their CFO (Chief Financial Officer) a three-year deal, but I don’t think B&N will look the same after this year. Declining sales and the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) investigation can’t be offset by cutting costs. What about Books-A-Million? They are in challenging times as well. I expect we’ll hear that independent stores have been doing better, though, so the brick-and-mortar bookstore isn’t endangered at this point.
Kobo makes a significantly new EBR
I think Kobo scored with the more expensive, sort of luxury Aura HD EBR (E-Book Reader) this year. I think they may again go for something higher end that puts them in a different niche than Amazon. For example, they could introduce a color non-backlit device. Amazon has probably had the ability to do that, but the cost to the consumer would have been higher than Amazon thinks is viable for their market. Kobo might go with a $200 or $250 luxury EBR with something outstanding like that.
Legal recognition of personal use digitization
This one is out on a limb. 🙂 I think the dismissals of the cases against Google making digital copies without rightsholder permission may open the door for a decision that makes it clearly legal for individuals to digitize their own copies for their own use. This, in turn, may lead to methodologies that make it much easier, perhaps including more services that do it for you. 1DollarScan does it now, but I’m not entirely convinced that they couldn’t be challenged legally, in the case of books not in the public domain. If the Supreme Court, perhaps by refusing to hear a case, made it clear that book digitization for personal use was legal (similar to using time-shifting technology for television), that might really create an industry.
Kindle Worlds expands
I’m going to guess that Kindle Worlds gets at least three more major licenses during 2014. I think the Kurt Vonnegut thing will point the way. Once it looks like that has been a success and hasn’t hurt the market for the canonical works, others will join in.
Those are a few things I see…we’ll check back next year and see how I did. 😉 What do you think? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post. Amazon can be counted on for something surprising…for example, what companies/websites do you think they’ll buy next year?
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.