Six e-Book Trends to Watch in 2011

Because I am the CEO of a book publishing company, I am regularly asked how I see the future of digital publishing. As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

A Woman Reading an e-Book

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/webphotographeer

I don’t know exactly how things will shake out long-term, but I believe we will see the following six trends in 2011:

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  1. Bundled Books. Some publishers have experimented with this, including my company. However, I believe it will happen in earnest this year. The major e-tailers will make it possible for you to buy different kinds of e-bundles at a discount—a bundle of the same book in both print and e-formats; a bundle of of one author’s complete library or most popular titles; or a bundle of several titles on a particular topic.
  2. Social Reading. I have seen several concept demos of this already. (Here’s one.) But this is the year it will be widely implemented. Imagine hosting a digital discussion group, inviting a dozen friends or co-workers and being able to see one another’s highlights, comments, and questions—and reply to them. This interaction could happen in preparation for the group meeting or in place of it.
  3. e-Book Clubs. With over a million new books published in 2009 (the last stats we have), we are awash in content. We need curators more than ever. A single editor or a panel of them will pick the best of the best. Since it is all done electronically, readers will choose the frequency in which they receive new titles. Just like the book clubs of yesteryear, etailers will give them an e-book bundle in exchange for a commitment to purchase a specific number of titles at a special membership discount.
  4. e-First Publishing. We are already seeing this, of course. But again, I think the trend will accelerate—especially since 19 of the top 50 books in the week following Christmas sold more e-copies than print. Publishers will see this as a way of reducing risk and testing the market. The print copy will be manufactured for those who prefer them (still the majority of readers) or printed on demand for those who want a souvenir.
  5. Free e-Readers. E-tailers will do this as a premium for readers who buy bundles or join e-book clubs. Or they might provide a dramatic discount to induce the next segment of holdouts to try digital reading. More and more the dedicated reader will be seen as a commodity, just like razors are to razor blades. In the near-term, expect to see the major e-Readers drop below $100.
  6. Monetization Experiments. We will begin to see publishers try new ways of monetizing content. This will include in-book advertising (or commercial-free for a premium), sponsored links, subscription delivery, and even all-you-can-read options for one price. Most of the infrastructure for this already exists. It’s just a matter of someone capitalizing on it.

Regardless of how it plays out, I am more optimistic than ever about the future of reading. I can’t imagine a time in history when I would rather be in the publishing business.

Question: What do you see happening with e-Books this year? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://twitter.com/bteeling bteeling

    Michael, I’m surprised that you don’t mention public libraries in your piece. Do you see them having any role in the e-reading world? Your third point would seem to be an extension of what libraries do already, and of course many are already very active in lending ebooks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I just don’t really have any experience with this. It’s such a small part of our sales, it is off my radar. Sorry.

      • http://twitter.com/bteeling bteeling

        Fair enough. I wonder, though, if people are more likely to buy rather than borrow the kind of books you publish? There’s a whole lot of research (more interesting than useful!) to be done on why people borrow one type of book and buy another.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          I think that as long as the buying experience is so immediate (as in “instant”) and the retail price so reasonable (usually half price), sales will continue to dominate. Thanks.

          • www.therextras.com

            Ay, yi, yi! “Not on my radar” ! We are avid public-library-users and frequent buyers at the used book store. My comment is not much more than a personal response on low-cost means of acquiring books. Apologies, Michael. I truly hope the publishing business does well and prospers! Even if I am a second-hand-reader. ;)
            Barbara

          • http://LiveIntentionally.org @PaulSteinbrueck

            bteeling I think you ask a good question, and Mike, I think you’re response is insightful. While I do use the library occasionally, I more frequently I borrow or loan out books to personal friends. A lot of people would rather borrow a book and save $15-$25. But some people would rather pay $10 to get their own own eBook and get it immediately even if they could borrow it. If the price of eBooks continues to drop, I think more people will opt to buy than borrow.

          • http://twitter.com/MattBeard Matt Beard

            I think you make a good point about borrowing books and saving money. Sometimes I will do that especially if I’m not sure if I’ll like the book. However, if I do like it, I’ll often go buy my own copy even after reading so I’ll have it in case I’d like to read it again.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Our library won’t expand into this area yet. My wife (more so than I) would love to be able to borrow books on her Kindle from the library. I prefer to own them myself. I refer back to so much for material in my teaching and writing.

      But I suspect, as prices continue to drop, that more people wouldprefer to purchase…

    • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

      My local library still uses a paper-file card catalog and manual stamps each book. I think there’s a value in libraries staying a little behind in this technology, because there are many small communities that can’t afford to keep pace with the technology.

      Given how few books are in the “New” section and that this section simply means “acquired in the the last 12 months” I’d much rather see the local library spend the money on books rather than ebook lending systems that would only help those who actually own e-readers.

    • http://www.brianhinkley.com Brian Hinkley

      My local library has e-books and audio books. I haven’t actually tried the system out though. I believe that when downloaded they expire after a defined period of time. Some e-books have a waiting list because there is a limit to how many copies are active at any given time.

    • http://twitter.com/MacKinnonChris Chris MacKinnon

      This is probably a good idea for a Netflix-type business for books. All you would need is a digital library with master copies, and a subscription service. So many of TN books are fiction, a lot of readers would pay to read the book, but not be required to keep so large of a physical collection.

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  • PC

    I agree completely. The demise of Borders is not the end of publishing. It’s the beginning. It’s the Berlin Wall coming down. The ebooks revolution, things like QR codes, etc, will turn every retailer, restaurant, fast food franchise, into a potential book store and publisher. You go into a restaurant or fast food franchise and there are all those empty newspaper racks near the door. Publishers and newspapers with vision will be paying McDonalds to put QR codes on trays, cups, paper menus, the plastic cases on tables holding promotional material. Imagine every place where you have to go in and sit and wait for service having QR codes for reading material. Doctor offices, hospitals, airports, car dealerships and auto mechanic shops… The major grocery chains like Kroger, Walmart, Meijer, all have coffee shops or Subways, etc, in their stores. Publishers should be beating down the doors to put in promotional material with QR codes, linking the store’s physical book and magazine aisle to a “digital” aisle where the customers sit and eat. I’m in the retail data collection business for market research companies and retailers, and an avid reader and writer.

    • Michael

      Wondering if they will have ebooks available in doctors offices or in hospitals as a ‘perk’ to use while a loved one is an inpatient in the hospital. Would publishers be willing to support this, knowing they very well get more people into the ebook world?

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        Unless I misunderstand your question, e-books are available where ever you are, provided you are connected to a network of some kind.

        • Michael

          Let me reask – do you think the day will come when hospitals and doctors offices will provide complimentary ebooks? Of course they would need to be returned at the end of your visit. This may then lead others into the ebook world.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            I don’t think you will see this any time soon. It would have to be like magazines now. They’d have to buy an e-reader, download e-books, and loan it to the patient. If you are assuming the patients come in with their own e-readers, then my first answer applies. I just don’t see the value here. Sorry.

  • Jessica Subject

    50 % of the books I read last year were ebooks. What interests me the most is the idea of bundles. I always look for those in print books as well. If all the books in a trilogy are released, it would make sense to sell them as a bundle, yet individually as well.

  • http://www.thepoint-leah.blogspot.com Leah Adams

    I love being able to use the internet for ministry related activities. I truly believe it serves a population that otherwise might remain outside the boundaries of things like church and Bible study for various reasons. I am currently hosting an online Bible study group that is working through a Bible study that I wrote. The responses have been amazing and the women are really seeking to hear from the Lord and encourage each other through this unique Bible study group.

    Who’d a thunk it? as my grandpa used to say!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/LShallenberger Larry Shallenberger

    Point four feels like hope– not a silver bullet, but hope– for smaller platformed authors like myself.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good point. I think that is true. It will certainly require less investment on the front-end for publishers.

  • http://milesfitzgerald.com Miles Fitzgerald

    I see a big trend in the self publishing area with DRM free ebooks. All these people that always wanted to write a book but could never pick up a publisher will start letting their work out.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The challenge for them will be to get noticed with such a flood of content.

  • http://twitter.com/joannamuses joanna

    I am particularly interested in seeing what happens with number 6. bookboon.com is already doing some excellent stuff in regards to ad supported free books. While some of the books are a bit on the short side, many of them are excellent. I’m reading their Media And Cultural Theory textbook at the moment and finding it to be very well done. Wish I’d had it when I was taking a Sociology of Popular Culture class as it is in some ways better than the expensive textbooks I had assigned to me.

    I would LOVE to see more bundling of print books and ebooks. The convinience of ebooks is great but sometimes it is also good to have a printed copy to loan.

    I can also see some room for innovation in customized books- both in ebook and print on demand format. People could pick and mix articles/short stories/chapters to create exactly the book they want. Text books are an obvious application as rarely will all the material in the book be covered in one course. Travel books are another possible application- a customised ebook/print on demand book could be generated that only includes certain cities or mid-priced hotels. Maybe users could pick short stories they find interesting to have collated into an ebook or printed book.

    • http://twitter.com/B_Schebs Brent Schebler

      I too like the Print/digital Bundle for books. I really think this will take off, much as it is starting to with Movies. Also I really like the idea where users can creat their own anthology. I always like reading things like “the 10 best short stories of 2010″ and what not, but now we each could create our own and give them as gifts and such.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        The anthology is a great one. Thanks.

      • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

        I think that the print/digital bundle would help many people get past the hump of willingness to put money towards an ebook format – still having the comfort of print and a chance to see their favorite book in digital action.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          Just like buying a DVD with a digital copy included. But how many people actually use both formats? That would be interesting to know…

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            I don’t know the answer to this, but I find myself often consuming the same content in multiple formats.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    One area that would have huge implications for commuters would be to tie in/synchronize e-book content with an audio book version. I love the whispersync feature of Kindle books across platforms. If they can tie that in with their sister company Audible, it would be incredibly helpful. Currently the biggest drawback to audiobooks is bookmarking and cataloging content. If I want to go to a specific chapter or page in my Audible book, it’s almost impossible. If I could pull up the Kindle version, choose a chapter and have it start playing the actual audio book (not an electronic reader), it would be huge!

    • http://twitter.com/joannamuses joanna

      I would love that. Depending on what else I am doing at the time and how tired I am, whether I prefer listening or reading changes but the read aloud feature on the kindle isn’t that great

    • http://twitter.com/B_Schebs Brent Schebler

      a build off on this would be for notetaking. I find myself listening to a book in the car and want to take notes, but there is no good way to do that and reference the exact part of the audio book. With a digital bundle of audio and e-reader. I could easily at the next stop or when I pull into my drive, find the page quickly and take some notes. I know people would think you can do this with a print version of the book to, and yes that is true, but when everything could be included in one unit (ie my nook and the audio player on it) why would I want to do that.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree. I consume a lot of audio books. It is always frustrating when I have to pick up in another format.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        For that reason, I don’t use many audio books. I can’t take notes, highlight meaningful content, and forget what I’ve learned wth no way to go back and review it easily. And now that I can have it in eprint version, so much the better.

    • http://twitter.com/Hairsplitter Manuel Sequeira

      Absolutely. It would be great to be able to share citations both in
      text and in audio format. Books like these would also be excellent for
      improving one’s domain of foreign languages. In the case of
      translations, one would no longer have the problem of having audio and
      e-book translations by different translators. One might even have two
      tracks, both with audio and text: the original version of the book,
      and the translated version. Publishers might simplify this process by
      structuring the texts in a standard way (XML?), such that the
      translation would be easier to match with the original. Something
      similar to the standard practice of numbering sentences or verses in
      classical texts.

  • MC

    Always interesting to read your thoughts. One important factual correction, however: the USA Today story — “especially since 19 of the top 50 books in 2010 sold more e-copies than print” — applied *only* to the one week of sales following Christmas (12/26 forward), when physical stores were quiet and lots of new devices landed. The same story notes that up until then, any given week, only two books on the list would have had higher digital sales than print.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Michael. I should have caught that. I have made the correction in the post.

  • http://missionalmamassoul.blogspot.com/ FlyinPeru

    My hope is that you can get ebooks from anywhere you want even if you own a Kindle, for example. So that you do not have to get a reader per store you frequent.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m not pushing the Kindle over other e-readers, but you can download the software free and use it on almost any device: desktop computer, iPad, iPhone, Android, etc.

  • http://www.validleadership.com James Castellano

    I am 100% e book now. I’m even using it for text books when available. The biggest impact I believe is removing the barriers for new authors to bring their books, blogs, newsletters, etc to the marketplace.

    • http://twitter.com/B_Schebs Brent Schebler

      I am almost with you on the 100% e-book (I have about 4 print books I picked up just before I got my e-reader to finish), but I do have some concerns with the text books on e-readers. The only experience I have had is with B&N and was almost a year ago (before the lastest Nook Update), but the text e-book rentals was only available for use with the NookStudy app and not actually available on the Nook itself. This seemed to defeat the purpuse of a dedicated e-reader as I would have to carry my laptop around to read the texts.

  • http://twitter.com/B_Schebs Brent Schebler

    good insight in this post Michael, nice to see where someone in the publishing industry sees e-books going. I am really looking forward to more bundling with books. Much like when you buy a Blu-Ray and get the digital version included. This is great for the long running series I read (wheel of time) where the books are massive, but I have all in hardcover and don’t want to stop buying them for the bookshelve, but the ease of loading the 800+ pg behemoth into the Nook and carrying it around works wonders on the back. something I would like to see more of would be more expanded lending feature. I know with the nook, the LendMe feature only allows for 1 lend and for 14 days(i think) but if I had the print copy I could loan it out as much and for as long as I wanted. @Michael is this more of a constraint placed by the retailer or by the publisher????

  • Michael

    Those are great ideas. I have a huge library of books, have yet to enter the e-book world, but with incentives I just might. For me, it’s hard to give up the book. Even though I’m a change agent, there are some changes I struggle with.

    What is the difference in cost to the publisher of e-books vs. hardbacks or paperbacks?

  • http://twitter.com/scottcheatham scottcheatham

    I hope this is the year the publishing industry as a whole will learn from the 90’s and the Napster mess and remove DRM protection from their eBooks. I have no desire to steal books or “give” mine away but would like the same freedom I have with print books and MP3 song purchases. I should be able to put an EPUB file on any reader I choose without having to go through some histrionics to make it all work.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Agreed.

  • DrDavidFrisbie

    Any chance that the major players will agree on a format? Would love to see e-books available on any e-book reader, rather than dedicated systems which only do proprietary formats.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I doubt it. I think the market will likely determine that.

  • http://twitter.com/NewEnglandHiker Roy Wallen

    These points about the rise of e-books are all good ones and ones that are obviously on your radar. The rise of social networking exists with Goodreads.com, Gather.com, and Bookcrossing.com — as well as others, I’m sure, with which I’m not connected.
    I wonder how much e-only publishing will be done, especially through nontraditional channels. I have reviewed e-only books where the author never intended to see printed.

  • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

    I think that on #6, you’ll see some publishers make major mistakes. I’m not against finding a way to make the money necessary to keep going, but more and more people are avoiding advertising. And especially if you’re dealing with e-books that people are paying for, if there are ads in the midst of them, that will push people away.

    Now, if dealing with free content that is ad-supported, that’s different. But if I’m paying $9.99 to Amazon for a book, I do not want to find ads in it. I might be the only one, but there are books on my shelf and books at the library rather than me paying for someone to advertise to me.

    Product placement, if subtle, is another story, but you’d have to get that past authors. By that, I mean if the character opens a “Coke” instead of a “soda” I wouldn’t be bothered. But I’m a Southerner. I don’t really know what a “soda” is. All that bubbly stuff is “Coke,” no matter the flavor :)

    Doug

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I fully agree with your comments about the ads. I would hate to see ads in content that I paid for.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I would, too, but I doubt that is how it would work. I think it is more likely that it would be like television: the free version has ads. If you don’t want the ads, you can pay for the premium version.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think your second paragraph is right. Ads will only appear in the free versions if at all.

      • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

        That makes sense, and is something I would more readily embrace. I think most consumers would.

        Also, something that would be interesting would be comparing subscription service models like Netflix for movies: any movie I see advertised that I’m interested in, goes in the Netflix queue. I’m thinking many folks are like me: willing to wait for the 5 months in theaters then the 28 days it’s only at Blockbuster. A few things I’ll rush out for.

        Perhaps as e-readers are more and more capable of time-limited content, like the lending model on Amazon, we’ll see a “book rental” format. Pay Thomas Nelson, for example, $10 a month for e-reader access to the back catalog, but you still have to pay full price for new releases. If you can wait, you can save.

        By the way, I’m liking the e-reader option for some of the Booksneeze books. And I think it’s good the way it personalizes on each chapter that it was a free review copy, including the name of the reviewer. Kind of an integrity-based system. Whoever set that up did well.

  • Ashley Musick

    I love the idea of bundled books and social reading. Somebody mentioned it, but I read a lot of book series, and getting them in a bundle would be ideal. I think that’s good for the publisher and the author because there’s usually a weak plot somewhere in the middle of a series. If I already had all the books, I’d be more likely to press through the rest of them.

  • http://www.pofgblog.com Joseph

    I’m definitely part of the public who is shifting towards e-books. I’m holding out until this summer on buying an e-reader. If Apple will produce an iPad with all the features it should have (iSight camera, usb ports) then I’ll probably go that route. If not, I imagine I’ll end up with a Kindle. Regardless, it’s a huge shift in my mode of thinking. I’m a life-long book lover, and the idea of not having physical pages to feel and turn still spooks me a little.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I understand and agree completely! There’s just something about the familiar feel of a page…

      • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

        The feel of the page, and the paranoia of what happens if we go all-digital? What happens if the lights go out or the batteries fail (not go dead, but fail)?

        Where are we if we turn all of our information into the hands of the content providers?

        I’m all for e-readers alongside books, but if we quit making books altogether, I think we’ll regret it.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          I don’t think you have to work. Despite all the electric lights, we still have candles. ;-)

          Seriously, I don’t think printed books will ever go away completely.

          Interestingly, I spoke to a pastor yesterday who lived in New Orleans during Katrina. He lost his entire library in the flood. He had spent thirty years collecting it. I told him, “If your library had been on Kindle, it would be all backed up in the cloud.”

          There are pluses and minuses of everything.

          • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

            True. But he could only have had one open at a time. I’ve got a Bible reference library on my computer, and I like it, and that it’s backed up on the cloud.

            But when I don’t have internet access, I can’t do anything with it. And there’s lots of rural places without the access.

            The other side of the pastor’s library is this: for 30 years, he’s probably been loaning out single volumes to parishoners or younger ministers to help them along. Had it all been on Kindle, it would have been there after the flood, but it never would have helped others.

            Like you said, pluses and minuses. As someone who moves a lot, I’d love to have it all on Kindle—book boxes are heavy.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          Interesting thought. I’ll have to think about that for a while. Hmmm….

          But I think Michael’s right. I doubt if the printed book ever disappears completely.

          And there are just some books that I’ll always buy in print form. Some because I use them frequently, and some because I love collecting first editions of great classics.

          • Abowes

            I read both paperback and eBooks. I do admit I much prefer to own the paperbacks, but as far as cost and convenience is concerned the eBooks are much better. I pay around $25.00 AUD per paperback compared to around $6-$8 AUD for an eBook. With everything costing so much more these days the eBooks is the only way I can go sometimes. Particularly when i purchase 2-3 books a week on a students salary!

            I hope paperbacks never completely fade away but unless they become more affordable iI will have to stick to my less preferable option.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            I agree. Financial consideration is a key component for me as well. I have a few dozen books on my “to buy” list, whether that is print or ebook. I simply don’t have the cash to buy all that I want.

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  • TNeal

    People throughout time have always enjoyed stories. The Bible itself starts with a series of stories before delivering the “rules” for right living. An e-book is simply another delivery option for someone who loves a good story. When people stop loving stories, then the publishing industry will collapse. In other words, your job is safe.

    Technology actually allows those forward-thinking publishers to place more stories before the reading public’s eyes. Being up-to-date is important and influences what you are able to do, but finding manuscripts worth reading is still the publisher’s priority. Thomas Nelson has obviously done both–remained technologically savvy and offered good reading–well.

    I like how your post not only demonstrates the possibilities for a reader but also provides some novel thoughts, at least to me, about building community in what is typically an activity done in isolation.

  • Mrwilliams18

    I would be really frustrated if my e-books started having advertisements in them. One of the major reasons I chose a Kindle over the iPad for e-reading (you allude to this in your post on why the iPad can’t/won’t kill the Kindle). If I am reading, I want to be reading. I want to singularly focus on the text and content. That is a major reason why I love my Kindle – it is plastic, and electronic, but amazingly (to me, at least) it still really feels like I’m reading a book. The text on the screen even resembles print on a page. I still feel like I am reading a book when I’m reading on my Kindle.

    Seeing advertisements mixed in with the text would change this completely. Put the ads on the home page of the Kindle. Send advertising emails to my Kindle. But please don’t ruin the integrity of the book text with ads. That would make me want to return to print books, in spite of all the amazing features of my Kindle.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Agreed!

  • Kristen

    Michael,
    I loved this blog. I just purchased a Nook Color and love it. My only sadness comes with the fact that I will NEVER stop reading print – it just feels to good. So while there are great e-reading options (and i am on board) let’s not get to the point where someone can pick up a book, go to the beach and read something good.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I don’t think it is an either/or choice. I don’t see print going away. I enjoy both!

  • http://LiveIntentionally.org @PaulSteinbrueck

    Michael, these are really insightful. I can see the appeal of and momentum for all of these trends.

    I think #6, monetization experiments, will be particularly interesting to watch, because it’s part of the larger opportunity for new kinds of content in eBooks – audio, video, links, etc. I could see eBooks going the same way as movies & TV with paid product placements. I could also see any mention of another book in the text or footnotes of an eBook being a link to purchase that book. There are lots of possibilities.

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  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    Along with #4, I wonder if we’ll see bloggers moving more of their content to ebooks (Godin has been doing this for years) and either re-purposing existing content or expounding upon their blog content in book form, since the distinction between reading a blog and an ebook could become more seamless in the future.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Getting the content into an e-book form is the easy part (or relatively easy). Getting noticed and finding readers is the hard part. It might make sense if you have a large platform like Seth and don’t care about reaching anyone beyond that.

      • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

        Good point. Btw, I love #2. This in and of itself would be reason enough for me to buy a Kindle. It would be a blast to be a part of a virtual club with friends all over the country/world and experience the book with them and have a look into HOW they were experiencing. Very cool.

  • Bill

    The problem with these comments, and the problem with much of the discussion in this area, is that it appears no one is considering the author. If top authors are going to create top content, as opposed to secondary authors creating secondary content, they need to be paid and not have their royalties disappear into the cavernous nonsense of the “bundle.”

    • Bill

      Okay, “nonsense” is too strong (as I look at my post). But I have many royalty statements that show significantly less income with ebook and electronic royalties.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I am all for authors getting paid. (I am one, too.) If they don’t get paid, then they lose motivation or stop working. I think there are solutions so that everyone wins. Having said that, you need to have an agent that understands this field and negotiates well on your behalf.

  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    Great point! I have enough trouble on my own of focusing on a story – once I get there, I don’t want more things to distract me. I generally like helpful links, like related material; but, it needs to be presented in a way that does not diminish the experience of the story that the author worked hard to create.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      This comment was supposed to be in reply to Mrwilliams18; but, the coment system appeared to have a ‘hiccup’ at the time of submission.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    As much as I hate it, I think you’re right with #6. That’s the one area I’m really suprised we haven’t seen more of yet. I’m not looking forward to wading through the ads. But impulse buying what it is, I’m sure that ads will result in more sales for publishers.

    I have a Kindle, and read about 25% of my stuff on it currently. I personally would love the idea of bundles, especially of some of my favorite authors. But I would hope that there would still be the option to buy individiually. I wouldn’t want another copy of a book that I already have.

    This year, I expect my digital reading to grow.

    Thanks for the insights!

  • Fogboundf

    We are in the midst of major change in book publishing and book reading. I received my Kindle for Christmas and am enjoying it- never thought I would. I can see all of those things on your list coming more to the forefront. And it’s good to see that Thomas Nelson is staying on the cutting edge of change. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  • Desertrose5173

    I like all the above options when it comes to fiction, except the advertising. I still prefer a paper book for non-fiction and some special fiction. I tend to forget what I have on my ereader, so prefer paper for the non- and special fiction.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think the advertising would be a way to offset the price of the book. I think it would have to be highly relevant to work. If it feels intrusive, it definitely would not work. Thanks.

      • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

        Agreed. Going down the path of ad space could be a bad direction. However, doing what many publishers do now (adding a relevant ad or two at the end for a book or product) might not be as intrusive.

  • http://twitter.com/danielstoddart Daniel Stoddart

    #2 (Social Reading) is theoretically and technologically one step away from social Kindle lending. In fact, people are already doing it on Facebook.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is already coming under legal scrutiny.

  • http://randyelrod.com Randyelrod

    Really excited about #2. That sounds fascinating. So our entire re:create Conference could read a book together and have a global ongoing collaborative discussion. Wow!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It’s my favorite, too. The possibilities are endless!

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      This would have huge implications for small groups, training sessions, and small seminars. Hopefully we can test something like this soon.

  • http://theotechno.blogspot.com/ Lee Nickles

    Price drops (perhaps to free, or bundle with a book purchase) on e-reader devices seems like a very logical step – maybe locking someone in to a particular format.

    #2 is interesting as it is a conceptual throwback to the medieval universities. You have one copy of the book in the library – students go and read their assigned passage (one at a time) and annotate it in the margins. As a scholar, you then benefit from reading everyone else’s thoughts. The tech can certainly support this, but it is interesting that it is a return to something older technology enabled and that we have lost.

    I wonder how such a tool would change informal book clubs – the groups of people that get together at a bookstore/home and read a book a month and discuss it?

    I’m also curious if there is interest in renting e-books (works for Netflix) as libraries figure out how to handle that, or perhaps for books you only want to read once for need for a short time (some technical manual).

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I probably should have include “rental” as another major trend. I have had three people ask me about this in the last 24 hours. That makes me think it is an opportunity.

  • http://twitter.com/2012writer G.Douyon Flambert

    I have never read an ebook. I was quite taken by @ProfCover’s Kindle this Christmas, I had never seen one. We talked ebooks and pdf files and links for our next book though. I’m getting one soon!
    Multilngual bundles could be interesting and have such a world-wide appeal…
    Will multi system formats and OS be available soon?

  • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

    I like your razor/razor blades illustration of how e-readers will become a commodity. I think you’re right, mostly because my wife (an avid couponer) brings home stash after stash of top-of-the-line razors that seem to always go on sale, but never a cartridge of razors.

    I also like the implications of risk-reduction for up and coming authors. Do you think it will become easier to get published as novice writer if these trends continue?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, but it will become more difficult to get noticed. (More people in the public square hawking their wares.)

  • http://twitter.com/NowShareThis John Nemo

    “In-book” advertisements? Michael, please say it ain’t so! Is nothing sacred anymore? Also, as a reader, shouldn’t I feel like BUYING the book already entitles me to an Ad-free version? I think readers will revolt if publishers try to do this. It’s one thing to tolerate ads for free content, but when I’ve already paid to purchase the content, I better not have to deal with ads too. Unless the book comes out as a “free” version with ads versus a traditional price that you pay to buy it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I am talking about for free content.

  • http://familysynergy.wordpress.com JD Eddins

    Having advertisements is books would be a little much for me. It’s one thing to have hyperlinks in the text that could take you to other resources, or even creating hyperlinks on the books listed in the bibliography that take you to a purchase screen might be okay with me. BY have a commercial that pops up at the end of each chapter would not be good.
    One thing that I have linked about the Kindle is being able to see popular highlights in the books I am reading, though I do wish there was more interaction possible.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    E-books are all set to increase in the days to come. But, personally speaking, I find hard copy comfortable than soft copy for reading.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Other trends I predict for e-books —

    — Creation of electronic base of fan clubs for books
    — Using e-book as an self promotional / marketing tool of the business.

    Apart from all these, I sense audio books will have a great sensational and promising future.

  • http://twitter.com/MattBeard Matt Beard

    I’d be very happy with a dramatic discount to attract this holdout :) Even after I do take the plunge, I love the idea of a bundle of the same book in print and e-book format. I suppose I’ll get over it, but there’s still just something about having a book in print.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I feel the same way about light. There’s just something to candles. ;-)

      • http://twitter.com/MattBeard Matt Beard

        Touché :)

  • http://twitter.com/PeterTurner Peter Turner

    Hi Michael: Nice post. Thank you. I’ve been in the book industry for 25 years and my hope is that publishers will take a more aggressive role on the ebook front, in order to protect their margins and support their publishing efforts (both print and e). One trend I’m seeing a little bit is publishers retailing ebooks from their own .coms and creating unique bundles of print/e o e-bundles to add value to their dedicated consumers. As the physical retailers play a smaller role, the value of marketing and retailing direct to consumer create an opportunity. The life-time value of those customer relationships is so much more valuable (on every level) than the financial transaction via a retail intermediary.

  • Anonymous

    I so hope you are right re bundling, including also (as I think you’ve previously mentioned somewhere else on your blog) audio versions. This is the way forward.

  • Bob Allen

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. My #1 biggest problem with e-books is that I can purchase them but I don’t own them. I can buy a print book and give it as a gift or loan it for an indefinite period of time to a friend or read it and give it away or sell it at a yard sale or swap it for a discount on a different book. My #2 problem is that it’s not easy to underline significant passages or to make notes in the margins. Having stated that, I’m reading more and more books on my iPhone — especially casual reading. My favourite reader app? Stanza, hands down.

    So, which eReader is Thomas Nelson going to “give away” or significantly discount — the iPad?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think giving away the e-reader is something e-tailers will do not publishers. Thanks.

      • Bob Allen

        Was actually just razzing you a bit — as my Kenyans friends would say, “I was just enjoying you.” It wouldn’t make a lot of sense for a publisher to give away or discount the e-reader unless it were a promotion and the publisher subsidized the cost for retailers in exchange for the customer subscribing to something like an eBook of the Month program for books from that publisher.

  • http://twitter.com/ThatGuyKC K.C. Procter

    I am really excited for 1 & 2.

    I got a Kindle recently and still like to read the hard copy as well. It would be great to be able to switch between the two on the fly.

    Do you think Amazon will try to integrate the social reading feature into across the Kindle app platform (desktop, mobile, Facebook, etc)?

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  • Donna G

    As a voracious reader and recreational writer, I can appreciate many of the thoughts presented here. A few thoughts:

    I thought I’d hate reading on an ereader and would only do so when having a ‘real’ book was inconvenient–like taking a whole suitcase to the beach on vacation. Instead I quickly became primarily (leaning towards only) ebook reader.

    Library use. I have always been a huge patron of my local library system. I am mostly a read it once because there is so much more out there to discover kind of reader. That drove my choice of ereader. When my husband insisted last year I was getting an ereader because he couldn’t think of what else to get me, I chose the nook because it interfaced with my local library. That is still my primary source of content.

    Throughout our economy we will continue to struggle with how to value and reward those who provide information now that everyone can claim to be an expert on anything and no one is willing to pay anyone for information that might be gained for free. And as consumers one of our greatest challenges will be to discern what information is true, factual and relevant. I wonder if the real value will be to whatever entity is able to become the Consumer Reports of the bits and bytes we call information–fiction and nonfiction?

  • http://www.nitewriter6.blogspot.com/ Raquel Byrnes

    As a consumer, Kindle’s free sample chapters are a great motivator for me to try out new authors. That’s the kind of perk only an e-reader can deliver.

    I also like the limited time free-downloads. As a result, I’ve discovered authors I might not have noticed on a shelf or online. If I like the novel, then I often purchase the author’s other books whether in digital format or paper. Oh, I and tell my friends about them because its easy to Tweet a link to the download and its fun to share freebies with friends.

    E-publishing might give the new author or small press a boost with new customers through perks like this.

  • http://twitter.com/lovinglyyoursG Georgiana

    Perhaps the ebook market will develop a library subscription service of some kind. Readers would pay a small monthly fee and receive unlimited temporary access to any ebook and be able to read it without the option to download it permanently for keeps.

  • http://twitter.com/thecreativepenn Joanna Penn

    Hi Michael,
    Another ebook trend will be self-publishing or indie authors overtaking mainstream publishing in the ebook sales charts because they can sustain lower prices (which still make an author higher e-profits).
    As an international reader, I’d also like to see the disintegration of arbitrary country boundaries for ebooks when it should be language based or something more useful. Mainstream publishers are only releasing ebooks in the US market on Kindle etc, which leaves those of us in Australia/UK etc not able to buy the books. This encourages pirating for popular books – crazy when an ebook has no physical shipping.
    Thanks so much, Joanna

  • Adonyes

    Michael,
    Do you see publisher companies being hurt at all by the amount of free books they are now offering to bloggers? Do you think they will continue to do this?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      No, I see them being helped. We have a huge program ourselves, called BookSneeze.com. We wouldn’t do it didn’t sell books.

  • http://twitter.com/2020VisionBook Joshua Hood

    Thanks for the foresight, Mike. I think you are dead on. The publishing world is changing, but I believe we can utilize the new possibilities while minimizing the negative.

    Joshua Hood
    2020visiononline.org

  • http://www.christopherscottblog.typepad.com/ Christopher Scott

    I think we will see the continual growth of ebook sales. Especially since the iPad has become so popular and other book retails have their own ereaders they are promoting.

    Growth in ebook sales is for sure, but that doesn’t mean print books are out of style.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. I think the two can co-exist together.

  • Clgordon

    After writing my book, getting it on Amazon as an ebook and printing it as a paper back, even with several radio shows and a TV interview, it is not easy to get sales. Claire P. Gordon. My book is “The Color of Music” about separated twins, one raised as white and one as black. A hot topic but…What do we do next? Suggestions gladly received.

  • http://www.gospellab.com Gospel lab

    I don’t know where all of this is going, but I still like to walk into a bookstore and see books.

    There is something about the atmosphere, the smells, and the sounds of the espresso machines. I like ebooks, but I hope the book stores do not go away.

  • Drew Haninger

    How about the passion of an enhanced eBook with interactive video, charts and sound. I guess when you go this direction the question is it an eBook or an interactive app. I expect author’s to eventually expect more than just an electronic copy of the print version. The author will want the book with social interactions, notes, and video interviews. This type of enhanced eBook needs development and needs to suite the author.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Actually, I don’t think these kinds of books will prove successful. Maybe a few enhancements at the end of the book. But I think if they interrupt the reading experience, they are intrusive and detrimental to the that experience.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    Publishers ought to collaborate with neurologists and figure out a way to download the content of books into the readers’ brains directly, so the time-consuming chore of reading can be skipped altogether.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That would be a joy lost in my opinion. I don’t just like having read, I like the reading process itself.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    Publishers ought to collaborate with neurologists and figure out a way to download the content of books into the readers’ brains directly, so the time-consuming chore of reading can be skipped altogether.

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  • David M White

    My main problem with ebooks is that I cannot cut and paste the content I am studying.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Actually, with Kindle, everything you highlight in a book is copied to your account on the Web. You can grab it from there and copy and paste it into documents. I do it all the time.

      • David M White

        Thank you for your reply – I was told by Amazon and Sony I could not do this.

  • Paul Bruggink

    “printed on demand for those who want a souvenir” ??

    There’s at least a generation of us who are not going to make the switch to e-books, and we’re still going to be around for a while, so don’t hold your breath.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Oh, I definitely don’t think print is going away. I was speaking strictly to those who buy the e-books who ALSO want a copy of the print book as a souvenir.

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  • http://seobridges.com Erick Pettersen

    Personally, I’d like to see something like those “Choose your own adventure” books for kids. After all, when we watch a DVD, we get to watch cut scenes or alternative endings. Why not for e-books? for example, I thought Hannibal by Thomas Harris was well written, but I thought the ending was weak. Maybe he did write an alternative ending, but the publisher liked the one in the book better. I’d like to read the alternative ending if there is one–for that or any other book.

    Erick

  • http://seobridges.com Erick Pettersen

    Personally, I’d like to see something like those “Choose your own adventure” books for kids. After all, when we watch a DVD, we get to watch cut scenes or alternative endings. Why not for e-books? for example, I thought Hannibal by Thomas Harris was well written, but I thought the ending was weak. Maybe he did write an alternative ending, but the publisher liked the one in the book better. I’d like to read the alternative ending if there is one–for that or any other book.

    Erick

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  • Sjohnston

    It seems that it will only gain popularity. I was surprised to see all the areas you commented on. I still like a printed book though…

  • http://www.nataliejepotts.com Natalie

    With e-book publishing being so easy I wonder if well known authors (with large fan bases) will start to publish their own books online and bypass the publishers altogether. They may sell less e-books, but they will get a much bigger cut of those that they do sell.

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  • http://www.awdac.com Frank

    I think the future of reading is in E-Books and “electronic” reading. Today´s Generation is “electronic crazy” and in my opinion the number of peolple who like to read real books will decrease over the years. So I think there are great chances of being successful as an entrepreneur in the niche you are already successful in.

  • James J. Pond

    Looking beyond 2011 I see the potential for takeovers. I see a world where literature will be farmed out to the new less costly publisher and the author will be required to be licensed. The author will basically surrender his or her copyright to the terms and conditions of the license. The corporation who buys out all the publishers will ensure that profitability is maximized by limiting percentage the authors income and the consumers rights (e.g. no lending books to friends). Some people will loose their jobs, censorship will be incorporated, and everything will look allot like mainstream media.

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  • Jenifxvls

    great share, great article, very usefull for me…thank you

  • Anonymous

    I have a great time reading it. Thank you for sharing.

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  • http://twitter.com/NewEnglandHiker Roy Wallen

    Coindicent with your tweet from Digital Book World today (January 26th) was a blog post, with data, from Goodreads. The data are based on the reviews that are posted to the web site. The reference is here: http://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/264.Will_2011_Be_the_Year_of_the_Ebook_

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  • Anonymous

    I would love to see “adio/text” bundles. For the past six months I’ve been listening to audiobooks while driving and it would be great if they were bundled with the a hardcopy version that I could later review and outline.

    The scrooge in me just hates the idea of paying twice for one book in different formats. :-)

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  • http://twitter.com/kristinaAholmes Kristina Holmes

    Re: #4 about e-publication first: “Publishers will see this as a way of reducing risk and testing the market. The print copy will be manufactured for those who prefer them (still the majority of readers) or printed on demand for those who want a souvenir.”

    Yes! This is so obvious.

    I’m shopping a really great project right now to publishers – it’s a health/environmental prescriptive book written by authors with combined sales of over 500K. I’m finding a lot of rejections from publishers who admit that the concept is brilliant and that it would make a terrific e-book and/or app, or other electronic translation, but they don’t feel readers will want to access the information in a physical book quite as much. In other words, the fact that it would make a better electronic product than a physical book (which I’m not convinced is necessarily true) is the clincher for them turning us down, even though they love the idea and the platforms!

    I realize that we’re in relatively early days in the e-revolution, but the responses from publishers has me scratching my head. I look forward to the old formulas used in publishing today breaking up a bit and hopefully seeing publishers willing and able to be a bit more dynamic in how they approach each project. There are a lot of brilliant folks in publishing… I’m sure it will happen. Can’t wait.

  • Judith Marshall

    Great article! I see all of these trends as viable options. Several of my fellow authors are now test-marketing their books on sites such as Smashwords before querying an agent, publisher, or publishing independently. It makes perfect sense that a traditional publisher would want to do the same. It’s an exciting time for us authors.

    Judith Marshall
    http://www.judithmarshall.net
    Author of “Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever” recently optioned for the big screen.

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  • Julia

    I think e-reading will hit a peak and then begin to decline.  I jumped onto the e-reader bandwagon before the trend spiked, and I am already sick of it and yearning for “real” books.  I am not much different than the average person, so I expect this will happen to many others as well.  Even those “born digital” will probably follow the “movie-theater” model and return to tangible reading just as those who returned to movie theaters despite the existence of netflix.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m not holding my breath. I haven’t seen any great “return to vinyl” in the recorded music world.

  • Anonymous

    These are all great insights. Do you know if any of them have become true so far? I know that Salesforce.com’s CEO, Marc Benioff, has called social networks the next big disruption and a great source of innovation. When you mentioned “Social Reading” and “e-Book Clubs” that’s the first thing I thought of, but with new features like Skype in Facebook or ‘Hangouts’ on Google+, an entirely new social network may not be needed.

  • Mark C. Grove

    More reference books will be offered as eBooks because professionals of every stripe will begin requesting, later demanding that the common (and uncommon) professional books that they reference for their work will go digital. Once this concept takes hold, every professional will convert their professional library so that it may be carried with them on-the-job. I expect medical, law enforcement, geologists, botanists, and other professionals like personal property appraisers (that’s me) to carry their kindle with them for easy access to hundreds of books, journals, and even slides, snapshots, mug-pics, and identification books. As the car, phone, internet has become a professional requirement for fulfilling diligence, so too will be a professional’s kindle library. http://www.mgrove.com

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