Where will publishing be in 2032?
What will 2032 be like? Does thinking about this cause you anxiety regarding climate change, politics, or social media? Well, set that anxiety aside and let’s read the crystal ball of what academic publishing or just publishing might be like.
Publishing will continue to be controlled by fewer companies. Consolidation has been endemic in the last twenty years and there is no reason to consider it abating any time soon.
Open access/open source grows:
Open access journals have predominated in the last two decades, and the trend will only continue. Readily available open-source research or educational material (whether in book, journal, or course form) will further expand and affect the for-profit model.
A move from individual titles to digital platforms:
Most of us have grown up with an individual textbook being adopted for an individual class. Large content platforms by the major publishers will continue to alter this model. Institutions and students will have access to/subscribe to this content instead of a single title, thereby giving them access to a wealth of other content. The true publisher competition will be between these powerful platforms.
Audio and video rules:
The days of twenty-page chapters of just text are waning, if not over. The move to digital platforms will dramatically increase the reliance on videos and audio. Learning to master multimedia skills will help authors adapt to these new demands on authors.
Interactive materials and gamification:
Learning will be less one-way and continue its march toward impressive interactive material. Creative ways for content to be presented and learners to gauge their mastery will explode.
DEI more fully realized:
Published content will (thankfully) show a truer representation of society, but I am sure issues will continue.
Content will be available in more compact form:
Content will continue to migrate away from defined 500-page texts to smaller units, perhaps available in customer groupings or by “chapter.”
Authors and readers interacting more:
The days of an author sending their work out there with no/little direct contact with readers/buyers is likely over. Whether through an online portal, chat feature, social media, the expectation will be that authors will be available for limited or greater interaction with their “users.”
eBooks will continue to evolve:
When does an eBook become a website or digital platform? When is an eBook more a series of videos and webinars? The eBook (the current shovel-ware version of some paper books) is ripe for reinvention, which will surely occur.
But paper books will still be a thing!
You heard it here first, your/our beloved books will still be around in paper form; well at least some of them. There may be fewer of them, and they may be different in format or layout, but they will be holding on!
Publishing is not monolithic. These changes may not be a surprise to you, depending on what discipline you are in. These changes may already be here for you or nearby. Others may have their eyes open to the possibilities.
Of course, almost none of this is guaranteed. Ten years is a long time in any industry. My email address is below. Drop me a line in 2032 and let me know how I did.
John Bond is a publishing consultant at Riverwinds Consulting. He works with individuals on publishing and writing projects. In his career, he has directed the publishing of over 500 book titles and 20,000 journal articles. He is the host of the YouTube channel “Publishing Defined.” email@example.com.