The Year Ahead: 2016
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 did really well predicting what would happen in 2014 (for example, I not only predicted Kindle Unlimited…I got the name right!), but spoiler alert ;) I didn’t do as well for 2015 (I wasn’t as confident…gee, I was right about I…) :) This is my fifth year predicting the year ahead, but progress isn’t always steady.
First, let’s see how I did do with my predictions and speculation for 2015:
At least one Big Five publisher joins Kindle Unlimited
Hit (but it’s really more of a glancing blow). I said this might happen in a limited way, and it did…but only with a couple of titles (see Round up #306: Overdrive “page turners”, KU gets a Big 5 publisher (slightly)). I’m being honest, and I’ll say that’s a lot less than I thought…but it still counts. I also suggested we might see more of the tradpubs (traditional publishers) and Amazon developing separate markets: that did happen (and I think it will continue to happen), but that wasn’t the main prediction.
The Amazon Echo is a hit and we see competitors
Hit. The Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is a hit (one of Amazon’s best sellers in electronics). In terms of a competitor, I’d argue that the latest Apple TV with onboard Siri falls somewhat into that category. I’d also call the LG SmartThinQ Hub (being shown at CES next week) a competitor…it’s a bit complex defining clearly what the Echo does. If, however, the LG device is talktec, then it’s a definite competitor…and it looks a lot like an Echo (although it has a small screen). Engadget post by Timothy J. Seppala
Amazon brings Dynamic Perspective to a few e-books
Miss. Just flat out didn’t happen.
Amazon does a digitization service for authors and for public domain books
Partial hit. While this didn’t happen with the mechanism I suggested, Amazon did release Kindle Convert (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) software on February 3rd. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have done well (I tried it out..didn’t win my heart). There are 25 customer reviews at the time of writing, with an average of 2.0 stars out of 5 (which is really quite low). It is currently ranked at #3,353 in software…and #84 in Home Publishing software. That’s out of 2,979 home publishing titles (which include things like clip art and fonts)…that puts in the top three percent or so, but that doesn’t necessarily suggest a lot of sales. I think my idea of sending it to Amazon to convert it, and them getting an exclusive for a public domain title with some new added content (creating a new copyright) would work better. :)
A new text-to-speech device
Miss. I’m still holding out hope for the future…
I also had these speculations, which I didn’t call predictions:
- I said it seemed unlikely to me that Apple would win their appeal: they did lose an appeal, but it’s not really over yet
- I had an intuition that we might see something big with Stephen King, including “…could be something personal, although we’ll know about it”. That did happen: Stephen King given National Medal of Arts
- I thought we wouldn’t see a mainstream color EBR, and we didn’t
- My feeling was that the new Congress wouldn’t pass “…equal collection legislation, or do a lot of copyright reform”. They didn’t.
Okay, time to make predictions for 2016!
“Kindle Splash”: Amazon introduces a water resistant Kindle
As I noted in my recent post, The Year in E-Books 2015, this year wasn’t really about new EBR (E-Book Reader) hardware. There was a whole new generation of Fire tablets, a second generation of Fire TV, and the rise of the Echo, but nothing revolutionary for non-backlit readers. During that time, the industry (which is pretty much Kobo and the NOOK, in addition to the Kindle) has introduced a feature the Kindle doesn’t have: water resistance. The NOOK Glowlight Plus was introduced October 21st of 2015 and was called “waterproof”. The Kobo Aura H20 could be ordered on September 1st, 2014. One question for me here is whether this would be released as a high end “Voyage 2”, an update of the very popular Paperwhite, or perhaps a new model (maybe the “Kindle Splash”, which sounds a bit like the “Kindle Touch”?). The Kobo was relatively expensive, but the NOOK was more middle-priced. While I would love to see Amazon introduce an EBR with audio (for text-to-speech, especially) that doesn’t feel to me like it is going to happen…I think that’s migrated to the tablets, although a stand-alone wearable for text-to-speech still seems possible.
Continued international expansion of content development and discovery
Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is now available in the USA, Canada, and Mexico, and look for that to expand to other markets. In fact, there is a placeholder page for it at the UK site: Kindle Unlimited UK. It shows a price of £7.99 a month, and while it says it is currently unavailable, it says to “stay tuned”. Similarly, Kindle Scout could begin in other countries.
Amazon moves into the news business
“What’s the news, across the nation? Amazon has information…”** Amazon has been producing their own content, and that’s been doing well and getting respect (some more than others, of course). Amazon is in the mix for Emmys and Golden Globes, and it’s possible Chi-Raq will get some sort of Oscar nomination recognition on January 14th. They have a music service and a video service. Hey, if I had an option to get all of my content through Amazon (not necessarily produced by them, but through them), I would. When I look for a segment that is still an opportunity for them, I think it’s news. I can already get news from our Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), and of course, there are news apps on our Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) and my Kindle Fire HDX (now discontinued). What I could see them introducing is an Amazon news app, to compete with Flipboard (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) and others. I see a couple of reasons for it. First, Amazon does not own the Washington Post…but Jeff Bezos does. :) I could see real synergy there, with some WaPo branded content in the app. I see some of WaPo in Flipboard now. Another one is being able to get their own message out when there is a story in the news that involves them. Elon Musk got a lot more publicity for landing a rocket than Jeff Bezos did. There are issues involving drones, equal (tax) collection legislation, and even the report about Amazon’s working conditions. That doesn’t mean the app would be a mouthpiece…Amazon could produce content about media and tech (the things they sell), and then let you use the app to access your Twitter feeds (like Flipboard) and other sources. They could use this to partner with producers, which they seem to like doing. I hate to say it, but I could even see them folding their blog publishing into it…that might be a bad thing for me and some others, but I don’t think 90% of the blogs in the Kindle store are making anybody any money.
Those are my predictions, and I’ll do my hits and misses based on those. Now some musings…
- I don’t think the Apple case will get to the Supreme Court in 2016…that’s probably too fast. However, it is possible the Supremes would decline to consider it…I think, though, it doesn’t happen during this Presidential election year
- I think that equal collection legislation could happen in the next administration (whoever the President ends up being)…there is enough bilateral support for it, but nobody wants to give anybody ammunition during the election. Hold that off for 2017
- Barnes & Noble will continue to sink…I think they could limp through the year, even after what I think will be a disappointing holiday season report
- Prime continues to be a big priority, getting us more content
- Fire TV and the Echo will have great years. We’ll see the Echo “Skills store” expand considerably
- Virtual Reality could have some book tie-ins…imagine going to Hogwarts in VR, or playing in The Hunger Games. However, I’m unconvinced VR is ready for Prime Time…although I think Microsoft’s Hololens will have industrial application
- Amazon could have AI (Artificial Intelligence) produced content, which might tie into the news service above. They could also use AI to do book summaries on Amazon product pages
- Amazon could consolidate their three social reading sites: Goodreads, Library Thing, and Shelfari. I like Shelfari, but I think it would be most at risk of being absorbed
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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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help!
** This is a reference I suspect almost no one will get…especially without hearing it being sung. I was inspired by Laugh-in: “What’s the news, across the nation? We have got the information….”
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.