|And just like the sex you wish you could have with that stripper, you’re dying to experience la poutine. That’s why we’ve got the martinis; liquid courage.|
Well, hello again. Here, Clive’s making apple martinis and poutine today. Mmmm. For those of you who are new to The Edge, we’ve been running the Oracle Series, a follow-up to my guest blog post in Rita’s world. On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, I expanded on the first five predictions that Carlos and I shared in the Writer’s Companion about where the publishing industry will be in ten years. For the entire list (so you can properly build your argument for or against our predictions) check out my guest post over in Rita’s World. On Wednesday, we took a little break and Rita came over to The Edge to share her journey in self-publishing and how her YA novel “Tears” came to be. Thursday we jumped right back into the future of publishing with Prediction #5.
Today we’re diving once more into the fray, with the Oracle’s sixth, seventh and eighth predictions for the publishing industry. What have we cast into the fire this time?
Two-thirds of traditional book retailers will have disappeared.
The trend is unstoppable. Some Indie book retailers will scrounge a living from keepsakes, but the bulk of leisure and impulse books will be digital. A few will survive by diversifying their offer, much as bookshops at airports where one can find luggage straps, aspirin, diapers, drinks, and snacks among the books.
The big chains will fare worse and will be forced to drastically change their business model, to a point where books contribute only a fraction of their turnover. This doesn’t mean that their book division will vanish. They will regroup it in the Internet and live to fight another day.
The number of readers will increase.
People read fewer books, this might be true, but the time dedicated to absorb information has increased dramatically in the last decades. While people may spend less time reading books, they use phenomenal chunks of time to text, blog, hang about social networks, play games, and watch TV (all of which need content).
With more free time and so much information floating about, people soak up information and are greedy for content. This is great news for writers.
In addition, though the number of readers is decreasing in the West, it’s exploding elsewhere. In the East and Africa there’s a trifle of over three billion potential readers. THREE BILLION!! Come on, that’s a lot of eyes.
A large percentage of successful writers will issue from the East.
This sounds insane and completely out of left field, I know. But it’s not. This is another logical outcome of the development of Eastern countries. English is the Esperanto of the XXI century. In almost every country, millions are learning English as a vehicle to communicate with a wider segment of the world’s population. This will promote generations of freelance and creative writers using the English language as their vehicle of choice, which in turn will overflow to Western countries. The East is taking over, however surreptitiously, scores of niches in the global market and it’s naïve to assume they won’t try their hand at all levels of publishing and writing.
My personal opinion on this (as in, not Carlos’s) is that because these new writers have studied English, and I mean not half-assed as we “native” English speakers do, they will have the necessary skills to write well. They will succeed in this industry.
I believe that anyone not taking the time to understand the language of creative writing, to know the nuts and bolts of your own language and how to use those to construct coherent, smooth prose, is a fool. You’ll be left behind, choking on the dust of these men and women who did take the time to fully grasp the intricacies of English and grammar. Won’t it be embarrassing to have someone for whom English is a second language writing circles around you? I think so. In fact, Carlos has taught me a thing or ten about English. Made me sit up and take notice of what I blindly refused to learn because I thought I didn’t have to. And boy, did I make sure I worked my ass off to catch up to him.
Now, I’m really curious to know your thoughts on this one. I know for some of you, it’s a head-scratch-worthy prediction, but we feel that writers like these really will change the face of publishing. Would it be a good change? For readers, I think so.
Come join me tomorrow for the final installment of the Oracle Series, in which we become somber, and hammered.