2016 was a fantastic year for digital publishing. But flip the page and it’s already 2017. With a new year comes new trends, and we’re ecstatic to see what the digital publishing industry has in store for us.
Below we’ve compiled three major publishing trends of 2017 that will impact digital authors of every kind, with specific takeaways on how you can best leverage them for your benefit.
1) Market share reversing for indies
Author Earnings reports of the past few years have confirmed the steady rise of indie authors in the eBook market. However, if the most recent 2016 report is anything to go by, there’s been a change. Small/medium publishers and Amazon Published have all increased their market share at the expense of indie authors. Interestingly enough, this change is not reflected on gross sales figures (shown below). Both indie publishers and the Big 5– the major U.S. trade book publishing companies—experienced a decline in their quarterly earnings.
The report details an increase in Amazon and small publisher market shares during the quarter. While the Big 5 and small/medium publishers reported a marginal 1% increase in market shares respectively, Amazon boasted a significant 4% increase during that same time period. We can reasonably attribute this growth to the lost indie market share migrating to Amazon.
The takeaways: Author Earnings’ 2016 report tells us 3 things:
- The market has entered another period of fluctuation. This is completely normal.
- It could be indicative of major publishers reassessing their pricing models. If that’s the case, then it could mean that lower priced eBooks actually hurt sales for big-name publishers (possibly due to a decrease in perceived quality).
- Books are no longer required to be published and sold traditionally in order to be enjoyed.
2) Crowding emphasizing the importance of niche
A vast majority of independent magazines, both digital and print, don’t have large readerships. But that isn’t necessarily a bad (or accidental) thing. Publishers are taking note of an increasingly important trend this year: finding a niche will be just as important as creating a digital magazine. Niche publishers understand that the market is sustained by content output and longevity. As more and more magazines trickle into the market, the competition escalates. And because online retailers and publishing platforms have no limits to their shelf spaces, digital publications can live forever. So how do publishers stay afloat?
They go niche. More publishers are funneling their marketing efforts towards building campaigns that appeal to highly targeted audiences. Since the digital market is so overcrowded that even traditional print publishers are struggling, 2017 is the ideal year for developing effective niche content strategies.
- Exponential growth in both site traffic and social sharing occurs when publishers target specific demographics like age and gender. Remember — there’s a market for everything.
- In addition to deeper market penetration and increased social shares, niche publishers are generally better at cultivating loyal readerships than publishers who appeal to many audiences. They also excel at generating more traffic and becoming authoritative figures on their subject matters, as reported by the Design Trust.
- Catering to very specific audiences in ways that are relevant to them lets niche publishers deliver more qualified leads to their advertisers. This generates more revenue because advertisers invest in publications that deliver to engaged, targeted audiences.
3) Audiobooks gaining popularity
Are you listening? Good because apparently a lot of other people are as well. We were a bit blindsided by it, but the fact remains that audio is the fastest growing format. Statistics from the Pew Research Center detail a significant increase in audiobook listeners during 2016; nearly 15% of those surveyed were listening to books. Fueling this explosion are technological advances and changes in how/where people listen to content. And when you consider how much time Americans spend in their cars on average (around 17,600 minutes a year), the numbers begin to make sense.
Audiobooks saw a near 500% production increase from 2011 to 2015. Sales have also skyrocketed by as much as 20% from 2014 to 2015 alone. Many publishers predict that audio will trend to new heights in the coming years and cite Amazon’s best-selling product of 2016, Alexa, as proof.
- Digital publishers are branching out and publishing into other formats (like audio) once their sales are steady. It’s a smart move because more formats equal more audiences reached.
- These publishers dedicate their time to researching specific genres, how well those genres are performing, and if the costs exceed the expected profits. If you follow suit, you’ll be able to take advantage of future audio distribution models that will likely emerge from this trend.
- *TOP SECRET* Joomag allows publishers to embed audio files directly to their publications! You can create your own audiobook with us and let it be heard around the world.
Trends come and go, but the ones that stay deserve our full attention. They are market influencers and the best publishers see them as opportunities for creative experimentation. Will you?