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choppy
June 25th, 2007, 02:29 PM
Inspired by the thread on Bestselling Genres, I thought it would be interesting to pose the question:
What trends will we see in the publishing industry over the next 5-10 years?

Allow me to gaze into my crystal ball...

I think there will be an increase in demand for books for one basic reason. The baby boomers are going to retire. I imagine we will have a large fraction of the population that will suddenly have time to pursue activities like reading that they didn't have before.

As for the SFF genre, well, it seems that science fiction has been on the decline lately, while fantasy has been gaining ground. I suspect technology overload has contributed to this in that as years go by we are surrounded by increasingly complex, faster technology. Less people understand the technology around them, and as a result, there is less demand to enter a techno-heavy world of the future, when the alternative worlds where magic "just works" are more appealing. Another factor is simple competition with other venues. As video games get even more detailed, simple text stories have less appeal.

Anyway, what are everyone else's thoughts?

Abby
June 25th, 2007, 04:45 PM
I've become a cynic about the book industry, convinced that readership in all fiction genres is on the decline, due to videogames and YouTube and such. We have an awful lot of entertainment competing for our attention.

I was pleasantly surprised when I went into B&N yesterday and saw a bunch of new SF/F books on the shelfs. It gave me hope that there are still enough readers to support the book industry. And that's an interesting observation about the baby boom generation retiring. Hmm, maybe you're right, and that will lead to more readers for a decade or two.

My predictions: I agree that we'll see more fantasy and less hard SF, for the reasons you mentioned.

I'm not convinced we'll see increased readerships, but I certainly hope so.

MrBF1V3
June 26th, 2007, 12:30 AM
I've heard that the Harry Potter phenom has made reading cool for the young generation, and once they get started, they probably won't stop as long as there is good material available. This seems to indicate fantasy will continue being popular.

On the other hand, I've noticed good science ficiton being well recieved, I think because it's a change from fantasy. At least I'm thinking SF won't be going away.

Paper books, might be going away, but only if someone comes up with something as good or better. I'd hate to lose the last three chapters because I needed to change the batteries.:(

B5

lin
June 26th, 2007, 11:08 AM
Booksellers seem to feel that the Potter effect doesn't generalize as much as they thought.

If retired babyboomers buying books is what pumps market up, there's a real crash coming a half-generation down the road as we all die out and the prime buying popluation is filled with e-literates.

KatG
June 26th, 2007, 12:09 PM
The key audience for fiction are women, so it depends on what is going on with women. :)

Science fiction crashed in the 1990's because the paperback market crashed, because there was an economic recession in the U.S. and many other parts of the world, and because Hollywood lost interest in adapting sf novels for the screen. Fantasy was held afloat by the strong interest in epic fantasy at the time, and then boosted by an increased number of fantasy movies in the late 1990's, including some incredibly successful ones like LOTR and Harry Potter.

Science fiction now shows signs of making a comeback. Several sf series are bestsellers in the children's market -- where sf seldom has done well in the past. Non-category sf novels are getting a lot of attention, and new interest in major sf authors has started to pop up. I don't think hard sf is going to die off -- the curiousity about genetics, biotech and nanotechnology will persist, but adventure/thriller sf will probably be the main attraction.

In fantasy, I think contemporary/supernatural fantasy will continue to grow fastest, but that epic fantasy will improve and get more mainstream acceptance. Humor/satirical fantasy and possibly horror will get a bump up, though horror's run in film is pretty much over. Children's fantasy will shrink a bit. I think there will be more non-category fantasy and more fantasy adaptation films -- at least for kids, but less fantasy on t.v. I think the sales decline problem will cause the loss of a lot of authors, but fantasy has had more luck in generating upswings than other categories and will probably weather economic crises better than some others.

As for the future of publishing, this may have something to do with it:

"The U.S. New York Public Library is exhibiting the "Espresso Book Machine," an on-demand book printer from New York-based company On Demand Books LLC at the NYPL Science, Industry and Business Library on East 34th St. in Manhattan. The 1,660-pound, 8-foot long, Internet-connected book-maker can deliver a 200-page paperback with color cover in 12 minutes (roughly 20 book pages per minute.) It has access through the WWW to 200,000 book titles that are in the public domain -- no longer under author/publisher copyright. The New York Public Library is giving away for free books produced by the exhibited machine from a select list of 20 public domain titles, including "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," "Moby Dick," and "A Christmas Carol." Earlier versions of the machine from the same company were displayed at the World Bank in Washington D.C.and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt.

Many have experimented with on demand printing during the last decade, but issues of piracy, copyright protection and quality of the product have limited development of the technology and the interest of book publishers. On Demand Books LLC was founded by Jeff Marsh, who designed the machine, Dane Neller, a former chief executive with gourmet retailer Dean & DeLuca; and Jason Epstein, the well known former editorial director of Random House who has spent his retirement years talking and writing about the future of publishing technology. The company is reportedly in discussions with a large printing company about a partnership and with an equipment manufacturing firm in order to make the machine smaller and faster. A Version 2.0 of the machine, smaller than the original, is planned for next year.

Currently, On Demand Books has leased an Espresso Book Machine to a bookstore in Manchester, Vermont in the U.S. and sold one to the campus bookstore at the University of Alberta in Canada. Book publishers are reported interested in the technology, but many fear losing control of their business. Neller and Epstein claim that decentralizing printing through these types of machines will enhance book sales, keep titles permanently in print, reduce expensive printing and shipping costs, and potentially lower book prices."

Hereford Eye
June 26th, 2007, 12:20 PM
KatG: What's the paper size for the Espresso machines?

Arash
June 26th, 2007, 05:45 PM
Demand for fantasy will always be on the rise no matter what. That is a dirrect affact of living in a technological society. Humanity longs for a simpler, more mystery filled world. The more overwhelmed by technology we become the more we long for fasntasy.

hippokrene
June 26th, 2007, 06:37 PM
I think Buffy will be knocking Frodo from the top of the fantasy pedestal.

KatG
June 27th, 2007, 10:54 AM
KatG: What's the paper size for the Espresso machines?

Not exactly sure, but I would assume it's standard trade paperback size.


I think Buffy will be knocking Frodo from the top of the fantasy pedestal.

Buffy is dead and gone and off in comic book land. Harry Potter knocked Frodo off the pedastal.

hippokrene
June 27th, 2007, 04:28 PM
Buffy is dead and gone and off in comic book land. Harry Potter knocked Frodo off the pedastal.

Buffy is dead? Don't tell LKH, Vicki Pettersson, Charlaine Harris, Katie MacAlister, or Kim Harrison that; they're still writing books with her in them.