karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

Looking back at publishing in 2009; looking ahead to 2010

How was 2009 for the book industry? Lots of folks are looking back these days. The Guardian started their month-by-month review by calling 2009 "the year of Dan Brown, e-readers and poetic spats."

Today's LA Times Jacket Copy book blog had a briefer summing up of US publishing. Their conclusion was that it could have been much worse. Adult fiction provided a bright spot, holding steady at 208 million books sold; hardcover fiction was actually up 3%, partly because of strong sales by Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol." Interesting, trade paperbacks sales were up by 2%, but mass-market paperbacks were down, which suggests that ebooks (which are not even reported on in this blog post!) may be stealing not from hardcover sales but from mass market. Sales of adult nonfiction were down 7%, which brought the print book market down to a 3% loss from last year.

A post in the Christian Science Monitor's Chapter & Verse blog asks if 2009 was the year of the short story, as proclaimed in The Guardian. The CSM post surprised me by calling short stories a genre— it might fit the literal definition of genre as merely another word for "type" but it's not how I use that word. But anyway, at least this blog mentions ebooks. After describing the success of assorted short story collections, it mentions the Atlantic's decision to start selling short fiction via the Kindle. In fact, the blog had an earlier post on the success of Kindle books, although the poster sounds more than a tad unhappy at the idea of ebooks replacing print.

It will be really interesting to see what kind of forecasts we will see at the end of 2010, especially with regard to ebooks and eReaders. My own inexpert predictions (okay, they're guesses) for the coming year are these:

• More dedicated eReaders will be released (duh! they're already announced)
• Apple will release a multi-use table ("iSlate") that is very spiffy, costs about $500—$800 and will appeal more to occasional book readers than hardcore types. The real beneficiaries will be magazines.
• The QUE will be a hit with its intended audience (business users) but won't have that much overall impact as an eReader for books, mostly because it will cost about the same as a Kindle DX. However, the QUE will help business magazines and newspapers.
• E-readers will help short fiction! This is truly a guess, based on ym own experience with subscribing to Asimov's and with buying stuff from Fictionwise.

I will have to remember to check at the end of 2010 (that sounds so much more futuristic than 2009!) to see how I did.

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Tags: books, e-books, ebooks, ereaders, publishing

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