In the United States, the publishing sector brings in about $26 billion a year.
Even while that number has remained unchanged for the last four years, the industry has seen some significant changes.
(Take the rise of ebooks, audiobooks, and digital technology, for instance.)
Which trends will be most significant as publishers and readers modify their expectations in the upcoming years?
The top publishing trends for 2022–2024.
Growing Demand for Ebooks and Audiobooks
Demand for print books has decreased during the past ten years. But the popularity of ebooks and audiobooks has surged. 25% of adults read an e-book in 2019, even though print books are still the most common book type (65% of people read a print book in 2019).
One of the biggest, fastest-growing segments of the publishing industry is audiobooks. Additionally, 20% of US customers said they have listened to an audiobook in the previous year. According to industry sources, audiobook sales have increased steadily since 2012.
Surprisingly, ebook sales are outpacing those of audiobooks. Over $956 million was made last year from the sale of e-books, a 16.5% rise. The Kindle mainly drives it from Amazon.
The popularity of ebooks and audiobooks represents an untapped market for many independent authors. Over the past ten years, the number of searches for the keyword “independent author” has grown by 37%.
But it’s becoming simpler to generate and publish digital books thanks to technological advancements in the publishing industry.
An author’s audio file will be packaged by Amazon subsidiary ACX and listed on Amazon, Audible, and Apple iBooks.
Many consumers now obtain their digital media via public libraries, which compete with Amazon (which has roughly 50% of the ebook market and provides 200k audiobooks on Audible) in this market.
The figures were at an all-time high three years ago: 326 million digital pieces were downloaded, a 20% rise. With a 52% increase year over year in 2020, library ebook checkouts went even higher.
ByteDance, an Internet technology business (and the owner of TikTok), sees the potential future profit in the digital publishing sector. A reading app featuring AI narrators has just been released.
And one of the biggest ebook publishers in China, Zhangyue, recently received a $170 million investment from ByteDance.
Book Summary Platforms are Emerging
A rising number of websites and services are available that aim to summarize the content of nonfiction books. One of the pioneers in this expanding market is the Berlin-based business Blinkist, which boasts 18 million users.
Blinkist creates “blinks,” which are audio and text summaries of books. Over five years, “Blinkist” searches have grown by 188%. Additionally, the business has received $34.8M in VC capital.
MentorBox is another startup in this industry. Instead of just summarizing, MentorBox works with writers to create courses using the content from their books.
The platform has writers like Jonah Berger, Reid Hoffman, and Donald Miller.
Political Books are Still Popular
Books in the political category have become incredibly popular in recent years. And until 2024, this pattern is anticipated to hold. A Promised Land, the third book by former president Barack Obama, sold 3.3 million copies in the US in its first month of availability.
According to publishing experts, the book is expected to outsell other recent presidential memoirs like George W. Bush’s Decision Points and Bill Clinton’s My Life in terms of sales. Between 3.5 million and 4 million copies of each book were sold in total. The second book has not yet been published; Obama’s book is the first of two expected.
Books about Donald Trump are also wildly popular.
The top 12 Trump-related books had physically sold more than 3.1 million copies as of December 2020. Consumer demand during the upcoming four years of the Biden/Harris presidency has already been hinted at.
Four of the top ten novels on Amazon immediately following the 2020 election were written by or based on Kamala Harris. Early in 2021, the first books digging deeply into her political career came out. On January 12, Simon & Schuster published Kamala’s Way.
In the past year, dozens of books about President Joe Biden have also been published. Biden has published books in the past that have found a large audience.
Promise Me, Dad, his most recent book, became a New York Times bestseller and sold over 300,000 copies.
Biden made a $1.8 million profit on the 30-stop book tour.
Small Bookstores are Falling
Even in 2022, small bookstores are still in trouble. Additionally, the future of independent bookstores generally appears gloomy. Despite a recent upswing and 49% growth from 2009 to 2018, COVID may remain a barrier that many independent bookshops are unable to overcome.
In 2020, over 40% of independent bookshops will be permanently closed.
Mom-and-pop bookshops simply cannot generate the amount of revenue they did before the implementation of lockdowns, like many other sectors of the economy. According to Publisher’s Weekly, bookshop sales decreased by over a third in the first ten months of 2020 compared to the previous year’s period.
That is a decrease of over $2 billion.
Like many small businesses, neighborhood bookshops rely on holiday sales to make a profit at year’s end. During the last few months, some bookstores can make up to one-third of their yearly earnings.
Many independent bookshops claim that the holiday season was a shining moment in an otherwise turbulent year. Due to in-store occupancy constraints, online sales have provided a lifeline for many of these booksellers.
Additionally, eCommerce presents difficulties for bookshop owners who have never marketed their products online and lack the necessary organizational skills. However, bookshop.org is stepping in to make things simpler.
Small bookshops can join bookshop.org as affiliates.
This means they can build a link to the Bookshop store and receive 30% of any sales from customers who click on their link. All of the logistics, including inventory, packing, shipping, and returns, are handled by Bookshop.
Black Friday weekend in 2020 saw Bookshop sell approximately $2.3 million worth of books. In-store purchases at bookstores would generate similar profits. Local communities also contribute to the effort to rescue the beloved independent bookshops.
Tech Becoming A Competitive Advantage
In 2021 and beyond, technology will continue to be a major force behind development in the book publishing sector. Publishers are on the verge of employing artificial intelligence to write books, which is one unexpected way.
AI is already being used to produce articles by many internet publishers.
However, AI is currently having trouble producing compelling fiction. “AI is not ready to create a best-seller yet, [but] it is a strong tool that can enrich storytelling and increase audience engagement,” the USC Annenberg Relevance Report stated.
Many people may easily identify that a non-human authored a fictional book at this point. However, in light of the recent significant advancements, these AI algorithms have achieved.
Book publishers also use AI for other purposes. They are using the technology for book marketing, acquisitions, plagiarism detection, and content classification. And it might not be long until we witness less robotic fiction written by AI.
The possibilities for digital marketing and promotion in the publishing industry are endless.
Publishers are watching consumer behavior, and data like never before, with first chapters being read out on live social media feeds, virtual literary events attracting crowds of more than 500k people, and first chapters being released online.
Self-Publishing Numbers are Increasing
Since 2010, the number of books being self-published has increased.
There were roughly 153k ISBNs given to self-published publications in the same. More than 1.6 million books had been published by the year 2018.
The pandemic and the widespread use of e-books in 2020 appeared to accelerate the trend.
Nearly half of all self-published e-books are distributed by Smashwords, which reported a 5.3% increase in writers served and a 5.7% increase in volumes published in only one year.
Self-publishing appeals to writers, particularly novice ones because it allows them to customize their books whatever they like. The author is in command rather than a publishing house, who would choose the cover design, oversee the editing, and determine the pricing.
When horror author Adam Nevill self-published his debut book in 2019, he had previously authored 19 books.
His reason? Greater influence over the books’ packaging and marketing, as well as better income. Even some of his other works have not sold as well as his self-published book.
Another well-liked platform for self-publishing is Wattpad. However, the idea is somewhat distinct from the standard self-publishing procedure. The website and app were introduced in 2006 and are centered on a social storytelling community. Stories by authors are published. After that, users read the articles they enjoyed and gave their opinions.
On Wattpad, the majority of the stories are free. However, they also have a platform for “paid stories.” A couple of the most well-known stories on the website have been adapted into movies and printed books by Wattpad Studios and Wattpad Books, respectively.
Some authors use Wattpad as a stepping stone to collaboration with other publishers.
For example, author Anna Todd first released the After series on Wattpad. After Simon & Schuster read her narrative, she had five novels published by the company.
A South Korean business has purchased Wattpad for more than $600 million.
Other online giants, including Facebook, TikTok, and Netflix, were rumored to be interested in Wattpad before this agreement.
Independent Publishers are Making Gains
Indie publishers are experiencing a boom since the top publishing houses are perceived by many in the sector as transforming into giants that aim to dominate the entire book market.
The large-scale operations of the top four publishing houses stand in direct contrast to these smaller publishers.
Small publishers today offer a much larger variety of literature, politics, history, and journalism, as well as art-making and truth-to-power speaking from a far more diversified range of authors than the corporate conglomerate publishers, according to one author.
Independent publishers frequently take a chance on books from undiscovered authors and strange genres. Only 1,000 copies are printed in some of their print runs.
These independent publishers nevertheless have success despite operating on a small scale.
The firm revenue of Mango Publishing, a small independent publisher, has increased recently. They released 68 titles in 2017. The number increased to 130 in 2019, and sales increased by 162%.
Although the publisher has only been in operation for six years, it has repeatedly made Publisher Weekly’s list of the fastest-growing small publishers.
In recent years, Wolfpack Publishing has also experienced tremendous growth.
It was the fastest-growing independent book publisher in the US from 2018 to 2020. Sales increased by 309% throughout that time. The company only has 14 employees, but its sales in 2019 were $2.2 million, and they were on course to reach $3 million in 2020.
Authors Opting for Digital Marketing
Authors and publishers aim to develop enduring ties with their readers. These engaged customers are more likely to purchase books in the future. In light of this, email marketing is one of the most often used strategies for selling books in 2022.
According to a publishing expert, email is 100 times more successful than social media for promoting book sales. On their email lists, several authors provide free stories to readers. Some people even charge for premium material to monetize email subscribers.
More than 20 of Seth Godin’s works have achieved great success. He markets to and interacts with his audience via daily email. Plus, his blog, which has more than 7,000 items, posts the email’s text daily.
Authors are experimenting with marketing their works on social media in addition to email, a successful marketing trend that appears to stay. A true marketing tactic for many authors has been to post on the relatively new website TikTok.
More than 41 billion videos on #BookTok have been seen. The user-generated nature of the marketing content on #BookTok is one of its beauties.
Its genuine readers suggest books, giving summaries, or crying after a book’s emotional conclusion rather than authors discussing their own works. The popularity of the movement is so great that a TikTok video about the 2014 book We Were Liars had 5.5 million views.
Even in the summer of 2020, the book was again on the bestseller list. According to the marketing director at Random House Children’s Books, he collaborates on book promotion with nearly 100 TikTok users.
A further innovative marketing strategy that is succeeding is hosting virtual author events, which gained popularity during the pandemic. Despite the pandemic’s easing, these activities are still going strong in 2022 because of their accessibility, low cost, and success.
Publishers are often hesitant to restart live events.
In fact, according to one literary festival report, they are delaying the hiring of authors for their spring 2022 event.
Even though some publishers have begun paying booksellers to host virtual events, other bookstores think that “zoom fatigue” and declining sales will ultimately end these virtual events.
The publishing industry has always seen many changing conditions but survived all the changes and is still running. However, during the last few years, we have seen the faster and most disruptive changes in the publishing industry.
In this article, we have talked about the key publishing trends for 2022-2024 in the publishing industry. However, there are a number of podcasts known as new threats and audiobooks as opportunities have emerged. It will be fascinating to see how these publishing industry trends will grow in the next few years.
Keep reading our articles to know more about trends in the publishing industry, reviews about bestsellers, and more.