Publishing Forecast Part 4

Janet Grant

Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

We’ve reached the final installment in my publishing forecast blogs. As a reminder, we’ve explored the following book delivery methods:

The double-figure growth of audiobooks.

The potential of using the subscription model with books.

The new book format, the flipback.

Another way to access books is with an item that’s becoming ubiquitous in our homes: smart speaker devices. These devices are just beginning to gain wider acceptance. Here are the numbers according to Strategy Analytics, which claims the speakers “took a giant step toward mainstream acceptance” toward the end of 2017, pushing full-year shipments to 32 million units–up 300% compared to 2016.

Strategy Analytics has also published its estimates for shipments in the first quarter of 2018, pegging them at 9.2 million units–278% growth from the first quarter of 2017.

Device Functions

What are the devices being used for? This chart breaks it down for us:

In-Home Devices and Books

Most of us probably skimmed through the above chart and noted accessing books doesn’t even appear on the list. But, according to an article in Innovation & Tech Today, within a year, books will pop up on the list. That’s because users of the speakers will enter into more complex dialogues with Alexa or Siri. And books will come up in those conversations.

Some samples of conversations suggested in the article include:

  • “Siri, in the audiobook I was listening to on my commute this morning, what other book was that they mentioned? Please download that to my device. I want to read that tonight after work.”
  • “OK, Google, are there any books that discuss podcasting as a marketing device? Find me a good one and go ahead and buy it.”
  • “Alexa, show me a list of books I might like to read next week at the beach. Make sure it’s along the lines of ones I read last year on vacation.”

Bradley Metrock, the author of the article, rather audaciously (in my opinion) writes:

Book discovery increasingly will bypass all the known methods of today and will become reliant upon the AI sitting underneath these popular voice assistants.” [emphasis mine]

The Primacy of Voice

Metrock believes voice will quickly become the way we interact with all our electronic devices, even to the point that writers will use their voices rather than their fingers on the QWERTY keyboard to create their books. And publishers will develop ways to make their books not only discoverable through in-home speakers but also delivered via those speakers so the user will have books read to him or her.

Mr. Metrock closes his article by saying: “Every corporation is studying voice-first technology right now, learning as much as they can. This technology will affect every business. The wrong answer is to ignore the sea change that is happening all around us. Now’s the time to start learning, and not get so far behind the learning curve that it becomes hard to catch up.” Yikes! Really!?

How do you dialogue with your smart device? Can you see yourself asking the device to help you  find a certain type of book? Or have it read to you? What can writers do to prepare for a voice-first world? What should publishers do to prepare?


What method will–within the year–become the most used way to discover books? Click to tweet.

In-home speakers and how they will revolutionize publishing. Click to tweet.

2017 Favorite Books

Janet Grant

Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

As has become my tradition, I’m starting 2018 by recounting my favorite reading experiences from 2017. (That doesn’t mean these books were released in 2017, by the way.)

Oh, and I have an announcement at the …

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