Archive for the ‘The Year Ahead’ Category

The Year Ahead: 2015

January 1, 2015

The Year Ahead: 2015

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 2014:

Kindle Unlimited: Amazon does an “all you can eat” plan

Hit. I not only got it right, I predicted the name! I was off on the pricing, but this still a definite hit.

New lines of hardware from Amazon

Hit. I predicted the Fire TV with “…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.” That also predicted the camera which they did add. I also thought we might see a phone, and we did.

A major  change at Barnes & Noble 

Hit. Barnes & Noble is splitting off the NOOK business from the retail business.

Kobo makes a significantly new EBR

Hit. I said, “Kobo might go with a $200 or $250 luxury EBR with something outstanding like that,” and they introduced a waterproof EBR (E-Book Reader), the Kobo Aura H20 at about $180…close enough to claim it.

Legal recognition of personal use digitization

Miss. I said I was going out on a limb on this one…I think we are getting closer, but I’m calling this a miss.

Kindle Worlds expands

Hit. I said, “I’m going to guess that Kindle Worlds gets at least three more major licenses during 2014.” New worlds included Veronica Mars, G.I. Joe, series from Barbara Freethy and H.M. Ward, and more.

Wow! I did so well last year, I’ve intimidated myself. ;) That’s my best year to date, and it will be hard to top.

At least one Big Five publisher joins Kindle Unlimited

This one feels very shaky…I could see them just hunkering down. However, I do think this is possible, especially if it is in a limited way. For example, Macmillan might just make some backlist titles, but not the frontlist. I would like to see this happen. If it doesn’t, we may see stronger divergence between the tradpubs (the traditional publishers) and Amazon, with them both developing strong but separate markets over time (that wouldn’t all happen next year).

The Amazon Echo is a hit and we see competitors

Okay, this isn’t exactly an e-book prediction, but it will impact Amazon and that impacts e-books. Not only that, but there is some interaction now between the Echo and books (some people listen to audiobooks through it via Bluetooth, and text-to-speech may work through it). I’m not sure that someone like Apple or Samsung would step into the ambient computing market as soon as next year, but there might be a knock-off type less expensive product. In the future, I think it may include a scanning system to recognize things (perhaps incorporating Firefly) but not for next year.

Amazon brings Dynamic Perspective to a few e-books

I don’t think Amazon is done with the Fire Phone (we might even see a second version next year), and I don’t think they are done with its two big features: dynamic perspective and Firefly. Dynamic perspective (I have fun calling it “dy-per”) gives you the illusion of 3D: as your head moves, you see different parts of the scene. It requires many cameras, so they can’t just do it with a special book file on a tablet…but I think they might do something like pop-up books for the Fire Phone or for something else with the camera array.

Amazon does a digitization service for authors and for public domain books

This is another one of those pie-in-the-sky predictions, but I could see it happening. You own the rights to a book, or you have a public domain book. You send it to Amazon, and they digitize it, probably including some formatting (such as an active table of contents). You publish it exclusively with Amazon (they’ll require you to do something to generate a new copyright for a public domain title, such as adding new illustrations or an introduction), and there is a split (maybe 30% Amazon). The exclusivity might be only for six months. This would give Amazon a lot more exclusives, and would put them in the role of preserving literature and getting it public distribution. I suppose they could even do a digitization service for public domain books which they make available for free…that would be a lot of good will. Maybe call it…”Kindle Phoenix”? “Kindle Evolution”? “Kindle Vault?” The last one might have the least chance of offending people. ;)

A new text-to-speech device

I’m not quite sure how, but I have a sense that Amazon might bring back text-to-speech in something other than a tablet. It could be adding it to an EBR (which is where I’d like to see it), but it could be a wearable. I could see a watch that did music, audiobooks, and TTS from files: you wouldn’t sight read on it, it just did the audio (and it could connect to an external speaker for better sound or you could use earphones).

Well, I’m not all that confident with those…we’ll see! Now for some that don’t count: I’m not sure which way to go with Apple: I think it’s possible they’ll win their appeal, but that seems somewhat unlikely to me. I have a vague sense that something major may happen with Stephen King…that’s an innovative person who will take some chances. Might be opening a bookstore, might be something with virtual reality…could be something personal, although we’ll know about it. I’d be surprised by a mainstream color EBR next year. I think the new Congress may not pass equal collection legislation, or do a lot of copyright reform, but time will tell.

What do you think? Do you have predictions for 2015? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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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.

The Year Ahead: 2014

December 31, 2013

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.

Author Cooperatives

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.

The Year Ahead: 2013

December 31, 2012

The Year Ahead: 2013

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. ;) I do think I’m getting better at it, although there are always some surprises.

First, let’s take a look at what I predicted for 2012.

I had two categories: predictions and speculation.

Here were my predictions for 2012:

More than one new Kindle Fire

Status: hit

I got several elements of this correct, which is nice. :) I thought that they would bring out a 3G/4G model (I only said 3G, but close enough) of the Kindle Fire, and that they might partner with AT&T for a data plan. I thought a more fully-featured 7″ would be more expensive, and I was wrong there, but I was right about a camera (although I said “cameras”) and GPS. I thought we might see more than one larger screen Kindle Fire, and we did. I wasn’t completely right, but I did pretty well.

Continued support for Reflective Screen hardware…and a wi-fi large screen

Status: mixed

They did continue to support reflective screen hardware, and both Barnes & Noble and Amazon introduced frontlit models. They did not, though, introduce a larger wi-fi reflective screen device (replacing the DX) as I thought they might.

Current TV through Prime

Status: miss

I thought we might get current TV shows within a day or two of their broadcast through the Prime “no additional cost” video, and we didn’t. We can watch current TV as it is on using US TV Free, but that’s not the same thing.

Barnes & Noble hardware does well, Kobo doesn’t, mini iPad

Status: mixed

I got the description of the mini iPad pretty well (“…I think Apple will likely come out with a “mini” (or micro or nano  or whatever) iPad that competes more directly with the Fire. I would guess it would still cost more money, but be cheaper than the current generation.”), but I think I underestimated Kobo and overestimated the NOOK line. We’ll get a better idea on that when we see the fourth quarter and annual numbers.

Voice command

Status: miss

I can’t voice control my Kindle Fire, unfortunately. Oh, there are a couple of apps with voice recognition, but this didn’t happen in the way I thought it might.

For my speculation category, which I considered to be on less solid ground, I’d actually say I did better than on the predictions.

Governments make more public domain titles available

Status: unknown

I haven’t really looked at this carefully enough to evaluate it.

E-book sales growth rate eases

Status: hit

What we are hearing is that the growth rate slowed down…it was still huge, which is what I suggested, but slower than it had been.

Control over what is on each Kindle

Status: hit

Kindle FreeTime did pretty much exactly what I thought might happen. Even though that is only on the Kindle Fire line, that’s still a hit in my book.

Color reflective screens

Status: miss

These are not yet in the commercial market, and it may be that they are missing the window, but we’ll see. If a color screen reflective device was cheap enough, it might push out grayscale ones.

Kindles get better social features

Status: miss

We still don’t have something like “your friends like”…I do think this has to happen with Amazon, but it didn’t last year.

Challengers to traditional publishing

Status: hit

I mentioned Amazon’s moves into traditional publishing as part of this, and though bookstore boycotts affected it, the success is clearly there.

Blended media and synergistic marketing

Status: miss

I thought Kindle Fire usable books would get integrated audio and video…and Whispersync for Voice isn’t exactly what I was suggesting (although I suppose that’s in the same category).

Legal battles

Status: mixed

I was too broad on this. I was pretty good with the Agency Model, but I thought we might also get equal collection legislation (a nationwide sales tax policy), and we didn’t. Also, the Google settlement is still dragging on..

Advertising on the Kindle Fire

Status: hit

Yes, they got advertising and I described it as an opt in/opt out situation, and that was pretty close. It didn’t initially lower the price (and that matches what I said), because there was no option to get a Fire without it at first.

Amazon phone

Status: undetermined

I was just sort of floating the idea, and didn’t really make a prediction.

Now on to

2013 Predictions and Speculation (I’m combining the two)

Resolution of the Agency Model in the USA

I think we’ll see Macmillan and Apple settle with the Department of Justice. If they don’t, the court case could drag on past 2013, but I think that’s less likely.

Another major merger announced

My guess is that the Random Penguin (I can’t resist calling it that) merger is approved. That would leave, among the US Big Six: Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Hachette. I think Macmillan and either Simon & Schuster or HarperCollins bring the most diversity, but Joe Sargent (the Macmillan CEO) is a stubborn person who might not want to make it happen. Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins would be a real powerhouse…but I do see Macmillan in the mix somehow. I’ll say…Macmillan and Simon & Schuster as most likely. If that happened, would the other two also team up? Could be…and there could certainly be other media/tech companies in the mix. I could even, by the way, see NOOK/Kobo talks getting in the news.

Nothing really groundbreaking in hardware

I’m scared about this one! I think this is a consolidation year. I wouldn’t see a large screen wi-fi or a front-facing camera on a Kindle Fire as ground-breaking. This year, we had the frontlit reflective screens, and that’s truly significant. I’m just not picturing something like that. More features, prices coming down, yes. I think we may see a move towards wat I now dub the “phablet”, (which might get simplified to “fablet”). That’s something with a larger than regular cellphone screen, but it makes calls. We already see some advertising around that with the Samsung Galaxy Note. I can make and receive phone calls on my Kindle Fire using Magic Jack and Skype, but I think that’s just the beginning. In the future, I’d see us getting reflective screen cellphones, flexible displays (wrap a cellphone around your wrist, unfold a phone into a bigger display), eye and gesture tracking (so you can do things without touching a screen), and wireless transmission of power to our devices, but none of those market ready in 2013.

More well-known publications going digital only

I think we definitely see that this coming year…the kind of things that make the news.

Author cooperatives

As US copyright begins returning rights to authors for books published in 1978, I think we may see brand name authors getting together to form a company, sort of like the old United Artists or Dreamworks. Pottermore has to suggest that controlling distribution could work, and if you got, say, Stephen King, Anne Rice, and John Grisham together, they could certainly lure (and pay) top notch editors. I think readers would go for that, too. If you don’t need book factories, as you did in the days of paper, this gets much easier. It would allow the authors to bring over their editors, and I think that may be where the real loyalty lies (as opposed to loyalty really being with the publisher, especially as the heads of the publishing companies change).

Direct distribution from publishers

They have got to be looking at this. The periodical publishers talked about it, but I think social media has grown in a way that makes it more possible for book publishers. People will buy a book from a tweet, and that’s a way to get the distribution you need without a storefront.

Book production services

I think Amazon could do very well with software and services to help fledgling writers. Pay a fee, get editing, proofreading, cover design, that sort of thing. I think other people will do it, too, but I think Amazon could seriously get into this business. Maybe require that Amazon gets a “first look” for a one year exclusive. Exclusive content will continue to be important to Amazon, and they’ve promoted that a lot with KDP Select.

Social structures from Amazon

I’m going to keep saying this until it happens. ;) They need to set up some way for us to join groups and see reviews and reading habits from those groups. Those could be friends/family/coworkers, or could be famous people.

Account management improvement

Kindle FreeTime and Whispercast clearly are a move in this direction. I think  we will see more ways to send a book to more devices, and to limit content on different devices, on the same account. This has to move past the concept of “parental control”.

Subscription “all you can eat plans”

Kindle FreeTime Unlimited could be a test case for this, as was the limited test of Prime on a monthly basis. I don’t strongly think this will happen, but I think it may be an alternative that attracts some segments (a “romance” or  “science fiction” plan, for example).

Well, there you go. I’m not all that confident about these, but we’ll see. As always, I predict there will be things I haven’t predicted. :)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

The Year Ahead: 2012

December 31, 2011

The Year Ahead: 2012

I recently did my annual review for 2011. As has been the case in the past, the radical changes are both hardware and what I can loosely call software…but actually involves all sorts of cultural elements, not just written computer code.

For the year ahead, it feels like the world of e-books is moving into a new stage. Late in the year will give us the fifth “birthday” for the Kindle. There were millions of Kindles sold…in December alone. I think the resistance to e-books among serious readers has been overcome, for the most part. They are the mainstream.

That’s both good and bad.

It’s good, because more resources will be committed to e-books. More of an effort will be made to secure the rights to older titles. Global availability will have a great value.

It’s bad, because we are getting past that early adopter phase. Newbies now expect it to be a mature medium. An early adopter is fine with there being a few flaws…you don’t set off to sail around the world with Columbus and expect a luxury suite. ;) The expectation now is that an EBR (E-Book Reader) should work flawlessly…certainly, as well as a SmartPhone or laptop computer. That may be unrealistic at this point. It also means that things are starting to become established, and that inevitably concentrates power. Spill a bag of dog food on the floor so it goes everywhere. Even the lowliest beta dog can snag a piece or two in the beginning. Shortly, though the alpha will have claimed a large pile…a lot more than the alpha can eat. Then, the beta depends on the alpha. We’re getting to that point, I think.

As I do each year, let me start out by looking at the predictions I made last year for this year (2011). Then, I’ll go out on a limb and make some guesses for 2012.

An Amazon Android Tablet

Status: hit

At this point, the Kindle Fire may seem like it was an inevitability, but that wasn’t the case when I was writing about it nine months before it was announced. I said:

  • could be a really big success
  •  a backlit, web-surfing, movie-streaming tablet
  • They’d promote it for their streaming video service, among other things.
  • 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
  • it wouldn’t be the top tablet, but there would be a place for it

I feel good about this one. I said I had hoped it wouldn’t be called a Kindle, but I didn’t really make that a prediction, just a desire. I thought there might be a larger screen version (which I said might be a negative for there being a next gen Kindle DX…there wasn’t one). Again, I didn’t make that a prediction header, like I did for an Amazon Android tablet.

The Agency Model goes away

Status: miss

Not only did this “publisher sets the prices” model not go away, the last of the Big Six, Random House (which I consider a thought leader) followed the rest of the group and adopted it.

Ruling on the Google Settlement/Orphan Books Legislation

Status: miss

Oh, come on! ;) Judge Chin put this off…again.

E-book Market and the Kindle store

Status: mixed

I thought there might be two million titles in the USA Kindle store, and we’re not close to that. However, I did predict more non-English books, and said, ” E-magazines will gain a strong presence on tablets.  Mass market paperbacks will continue to see market share erosion.” Those two pieces are really solid. I thought that e-books might be 25% of the USA publishing market. We don’t know that yet…we’ll get the figures from the Association of American Publishers in the next two months (maybe soon).  The last figure I’ve seen from them was for September, and e-books were $80.3m out of $576.6m…that’s about 13%. I said that e-books might be 25% by the end of the year…and I think that’s possible still. Many of the e-books are sold outside of the AAP. I think the holiday season will have been heavily e-books, although a certain biography did very well in paper.

More text-to-speech access

Status: hit

This has happened, I’m pretty sure, and in a manner similar to what I suggested…a quiet moving away from blocking the text-to-speech access.

Web-E-Books become more popular

Status: uncertain

Amazon did introduce its Cloud Reader, and I could claim this as a hit, certainly. No question that many people downloaded it. I’m not sure, though, that the idea was embraced in the way I was suggesting. Amazon didn’t announce this as a success at the end of the year. We didn’t see tablets being marketed specifically with web-e-book reading being a feature.

More active content

Status: hit

Of course, having the Kindle Fire and apps makes this unquestionable, but there was still more and more active content added for RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles).

Enhancements to the Kindle

  • Parental controls: this was a hit for the Fire, but they didn’t really implement it like I thought they might. I’m going to call this mixed. I said, “…people will start  complaining in a big way about this if their kids are reading pornography”, and the people complaining part was right :)
  • Use of the microphone on the K3: miss
  • Better descriptions of the books on the Kindle and better integration with Shelfari: mixed. There was definitely better integration with Shelfari, but they didn’t really improve the descriptions on the device…in fact, they eliminated them altogether on the Fire. I was expecting more social features…something like NOOK Friends

I do want to take credit for a mid-year hit before I move on to 2012. :) In this post, I was guessing what Amazon was going to announce. I said:

My guess is that it may be several things.

  • A Kindle backlit tablet (which might be called the Amazon Kindle Fire, but we’ll see). I would guess they’ll announce a low-priced one (on the order of $200…maybe $189, to take the price point of the currently most expensive Kindle that isn’t the DX) and maybe another one with free Prime for maybe $239 (to underprice the NOOKColor by $10…they like that)
  • Two new reflective Kindles, one an entry level ($129?) which is stripped down (I don’t know if they can do that with a touchscreen, but maybe), and one that is touchscreen and more expensive…maybe even a larger screen (time to bench the DX)
  • Prime E-Book Lending, so Amazon Prime members can read very select e-books for free (again, I think that would be included with the tablet…maybe with a more expensive flavor, as I indicated above)
  • Price drops on existing Kindles (including the K3 wi-fi only ad-supported going under $100)

Overall, that was a lot more accurate than most tech writers were saying. :) I was happy about it.

Now on to…



More than one new Kindle Fire

I do think we’ll see a larger screen Kindle Fire…around ten inches. My guess is that it will come soon…announced before the end of January, probably. However, I also think we’ll see another seven-inch Kindle Fire…with more features (GPS, cameras), and that it will be more expensive.  My guess is we’ll see at least two of the larger screen…and that 3G (not free 3G) will be part of this. We may see Amazon offering data plans themselves, and they could partner with AT&T on this. I think it likely, though, that they will let people go with different carriers. There were a lot of complaints I saw from people who couldn’t get their Kindle Fires to connect with their wi-fi, and 3G would resolve that issue. I’m not convinced this means a lower-priced Kindle Fire, but they have surprised me with lower prices before.

Continued support for Reflective Screen hardware…and a wi-fi large screen

The biggest selling, gifted, and wished for item of the holiday season, was the Kindle Fire…but the best reviewed electronic item according to Amazon was the $79/$109 Kindle (which I call the Mindle). I think we’ll see a Mindle-esque, stripped down, large screen RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle). If they can get the price sub $150 (which I think they can), for a wi-fi only large-screen RSK, I think that can be a good seller for them.

Current TV through Prime

In a recent homepage letter (those ones that appear at, Jeff Bezos mentioned that there were more interesting things coming for Prime members. Amazon is willing to spend big bucks to get content for Prime…because I think they make a lot of money off physical items bought through Prime. As I’ve said before, I think their economic model going forward (not counting web services…just in the area of retail goods) is about “diapers and windshield wipers”. Being able to watch a current TV show within a day or two of broadcast as part of your paid Prime membership would be a big incentive. It could actually cut into the  DVR (Digital Video Recorder) market. They might also do some kind of original programming. I’m less sure about this, but I think there might be some kind of Prime deals with magazines and apps. The ability to borrow an app (even with a lot of restrictions)…or maybe have a one or two-day trial period would appeal to folks. Same thing with magazines and newspapers…read one free issue a month (and you can’t do the same magazine twice in a year). That would sell a lot of magazines subscriptions in the long run. I know you can do a fourteen-day trial now, but this would not autorenew…and maybe they could do back issues this way. Publishers would love a market for back issue e-periodicals, I think.

Barnes & Noble hardware does well, Kobo doesn’t, mini iPad

It wouldn’t surprise me if people were more satisfied with the NOOK Tablet than they were with the Kindle Fire. It did cost more, but my guess is that it hit the expectations better for a lot of purchasers. I’m expecting that we’ll hear good reports on how well that sold. I don’t think the Kobo Vox caught on very well…it just didn’t get into the news cycles. I’m guessing those sales are disappointing. I think Apple will likely come out with a “mini” (or micro or nano  or whatever) iPad that competes more directly with the Fire. I would guess it would still cost more money, but be cheaper than the current generation.

Voice command

No doubt, the coolest tech development for many people this year was Siri, the natural language engine on the new iPhone. It certainly works imperfectly, but that wasn’t the only computer language use in the news…there was Watson understanding the Jeopardy questions. The measurable part of this prediction will be that in 2012, Amazon, Apple, and/or Barnes & Noble will release a mobile device with at least a six-inch screen that can take voice commands. I think we are going to begin to expect this from our tech. I think it will be beyond a carefully phrased, “Open A Christmas Carol”. I’m not sure we’ll quite be at “What’s new in sci fi?” level this year, but maybe. I think we should be at, “Open the last book”, though.



This is new this year…I’m splitting out less measurable, more trend thoughts into a different section. I’m also less sure about these.

Governments make more public domain titles available

Project Gutenberg is absolutely to be lauded, and the loss of founder Michael S. Hart was one of the sad stories this year. I think, though, that governments are going to spend tax dollars making mainstream classics available for digital download. Len Edgerly of The Kindle Chronicles did a very interesting interview with Robert Darnton about the Digital Public Library of America. I may be a year early on this prediction, but I do think some other countries will move more quickly than we do. The British Library is definitely moving this way. This one will be hard to measure for success…but I think we may see some of the private industry public domain repository start to fade as this trend increases.

E-book sales growth rate eases

I think the growth rate continues to be good, but I think it may stop accelerating as much. Mass market paperbacks will continue to lose market share, and I would think we may see some famous imprints stop publishing MMPs (and that will get some discussion in the blogosphere). Hardback sales will also decrease (in terms of unit sales), but I do think they increase in price…wouldn’t surprise me if that was more than ten percent for bestsellers.

Control over what is on each Kindle

I think this has to happen in some way in 2012. I’m not quite sure what the implementation will be…but I think parents/legal guardians will be able to control what kids can see on their devices from the archives.

Color reflective screens

I think may be seen as a bit of a ho hum when it finally arrives this year…but I know I could be wrong on that (I don’t care that much about color). This would be color on a non-backlit screen. I’m guessing it will be in the market in the USA…the devices will sell, but it will be hard to keep the price low enough compared with a tablet that people don’t just go with that.

Kindles get better social features

I predicted that last year, and it didn’t really happen…but I’m still looking for it this year. This might be some kind of easy tie-in with your Facebook friends or Google Plus circles,. They could do something like NOOK friends: I do think Amazon would rather “grow their own” than just tie-in to existing systems.  You’d be automatically sharing books you finished, notes, getting recommendations (“Your friends like…”) and so on.

Challengers to traditional publishing

Independent publishing, especially through platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing, will become more accepted. One big story for me this year will be keeping an eye on the traditional publishing Amazon is doing. They’ve invested a lot (some financially, some emotionally, some strategically) in their imprints: Montlake for romance, Thomas & Mercer for mysteries/thrillers, 47North for science fiction/fantasy/horror, and more. We’ll get a sense this year about how that is going. Will they make bestseller lists? Will they attract more big names?

Blended media and synergistic marketing

Books with audio and video? Sure…I think that will happen on the Amazon tablet(s), just as it does on iPads. However, I think we may also see books getting into more places. It may seem silly, but I can see reading a book on my TV screen while I do aerobics on my Wii Fit.

Legal battles

I’m now thinking we may see equal collection legislation (setting a national sales tax policy, but not a new national sales tax) passed this coming year..but with it going into effect after the Presidential election. That might be a way to get it done. I think the lawsuits about the Agency Model will settle out of court…and I hope the Agency Model really does end in 2012 or 2013, but that’s hard to say. I think the European Union will make find the Agency Model to be illegal.  I think Amazon and M-Edge will become buddies again. :)  The Google Settlement may have a resolution…or it may get postponed or tossed out. By the time it gets done, it could be that government digitizing give Google less bargaining power on it.

Update: I should talk about two more things…Amazon selling advertising on the Kindle Fire and an Amazon/Kindle branded cellphone. I think the former will definitely happen…and I have gotten reports that suggest they may be testing it now. I don’t think they’ll give us a price break on a Kindle Fire with ads…but it might be an opt in/opt out situation. I suggested a while back that Amazon might eventually do a phone, and there has been some talk about that. It’s possible they’ll announce one in 2012, but I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other.

Well, there you go! Predictions and speculation. As always, I predict there will be things I haven’t predicted. :)

What about you? What do you think is in store in 2012? Have I underestimated Kobo? Does Amazon overspend, and worry investors? Do mass market paperbacks make a comeback? What happens to brick-and-mortar bookstores? Used bookstores? How do the traditional publishers fare? Feel free to let me know by commenting on this post.

Happy new year!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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