It just wouldn’t be a new year without a handful of predictions. The best we’ve seen for 2014 come from Olive Software’s Joe Wikert, who tells us what to expect this year in our industry.
Wikert starts by reminding us that “changes expected in the short term typically take longer to materialize and changes expected in the long term often happen sooner.”
(Cue the flying car we all thought we’d have by now. And why has it taken this long for the Dick Tracy watch-phone to hit the shelves?)
So what can we expect this year? Wikert lays out his prognostications:
1. Ads in e-books and other sacred places via ad-subsidized content.
“It’s not a question of ‘if,’ but rather a question of ‘when.’ This might not happen on Amazon or any of the household name retailers, but it’s going to happen. And notice I’m saying ‘ad-subsidized,’ not ‘free.’ These will be products that still have a retail price, but that price will be lower because the publisher will also generate some income via ads.”
2. Content subscriptions rise as “containers” lose relevance.
“Look for more content subscription models where you’re not buying access to a single container type (books, newspapers, magazine); rather, these new services will be a gateway to all forms/lengths of content, tailored to your specific interests. Think of it as an RSS service on steroids, where you’re gaining access to content in front of as well as behind the existing paywalls.”
3. E-ink devices become giveaways.
“I also believe we’re quickly heading for a time where consumers will demand richer content than what can be delivered on a monochrome device. Black-and-white TVs lasted well into the color TV era but I believe that was more the result of the significant price difference between black-and-white and color. That’s less of an issue with tablets, where you can find plenty of Android ones for $100 or less.”
4. Amazon continues to be amazon.
“There is nothing out there to stop Amazon’s momentum. And while this is good news (in the short term) for consumers, it’s causing heartburn for a growing number of publishers. The bigger they get, the more Amazon is able to dictate more favorable terms for themselves.”
The solution, according to Wikert? Don’t be afraid to embrace Amazon, but don’t marry them.
“After all, they’re the retailer with the largest customer base. The trick is to make sure they’re not a publisher’s only path to consumers.”
We’re excited about 2014 and always fascinated to see what comes next. And we’ll continue to do our part this year to help you keep up on what matters. From all of us here at Freeport Press, here’s to a prosperous and plentiful 2014.