Publishing Predictions: Mark Coker from Smashwords

As the new year starts, there are numerous articles and blogs about the future of publishing. I’m capturing a few of the highlights.

This post is taken in its entirety from today’s MediaBistro. They interviewed Mark Coker from Smashwords and asked

What Do You See Happening to the Book Publishing Industry 10 Years from today?

Mark’s answers:
1. 95% of all reading will be on screens.
2. There will be fewer bookstores, though books will be more plentiful than ever before.
3. The entire book supply chain from author to customer will become atomized into its component bits. Value-adders will continue to find great success in publishing. Dinosaurs, leeches and parasites will be flushed out of new publishing ecosystems faster than ever before.
4. Most authors will be indie authors.
5. Successful publishing companies will be those that put the most net profit in the author’s pocket. No, not the highest per-unit royalty percentage.
6. If the big six NY book publishers (the fat head) today publish 50% of what’s sold, and the long tail of thousands of indie publishers comprise the rest, then 10 years from now the fat head will shrink to 10% and the long tail will get both taller and longer. There will be more published authors than ever before, and collectively they will earn record revenues, yet individually the average “published” author 10 years from now will earn less than the average “commercially published” author today. Advantage will go to those with best ability to reach their audience.
7. 10 years from now, we will all be authors, publishers and booksellers.
8. Digital books will most commonly be referred to as “books,” not ebooks.
9. For those who still call books ebooks, it’ll be spelled “ebook,” not E-Book or e-book. Who today still calls email E-Mail?
10. Authors will write for a global market.



  1. Only a publisher/editor would list the deletion of a hyphen as a top-ten prediction of the new decade. I love it. Can we start calling e-books eboooks right now?

  2. Malle Vallik

    I know! I am still tying eBooks but think I should change soon. Dare we change the inhouse style guide?

  3. Geoffrey Kidd

    A lot of the above probably won’t happen until publishers take two steps:

    1. Lose the DRM. For those not technically challenged, jailbreaking the books has become little more than a “speed bump” on the way to unencrypted copies and just pisses off the buyers when they can’t choose where/how/with what they’ll read the books. As an example: B&N’s [censored] ePub format won’t work in my PalmPilot.

    2. Quit trying to charge hardcover prices for the books. Harlequin seems to have gotten item #2 nicely, with, as far as I can tell, electronic copies at prices comparable to paperbacks. And that, by the way, is why I ended up buying the entire “Texas Cattleman’s Club” series and have “Ruthless Russian, Lost Innocence” (among others) in my Palm awaiting my attentions.

    Forget the idea of “why buy when you can rip it off the net for free?” There will always be idiots who’ll do that. The rest of us understand that publishers and authors need to eat hot food and sleep indoors just like everybody else.

    Ms. Vallik, if you have any questions about the above, feel free to get my email address from this post and contact me. I’ve been an avid eBook reader and a Fictionwise buywise club member for over ten years and can fill you in on any details.

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