The Bookseller is hosting the FutureBook conference in London today. I'm not speaking there, but here I am speaking in October 2016 at Digital Commerce Summit on some of my thoughts on the future of book sales and publishing in the next 5 – 10 years. I love all this futurist stuff 🙂
The short video includes my thoughts on 5 billion new consumers coming online, global mobile payments, 3D printing, drones, VR, AR and more.
I'm influenced in these areas by Peter Diamandis's book BOLD and his weekly Abundance Insider newsletter, as well as his post on the World in 2025. Plus, Singularity Hub, Digital Trends, Exponential Wisdom podcast and Wired magazine. I'd also recommend Kevin Kelly's book, The Inevitable.
If you're feeling down about the future, read all those instead of the mainstream media and you'll see how exciting the future will be.
Here are some podcast episodes on related topics:
- Digital, Mobile, Global, Indie? The Future of Publishing with Thad McIlroy
- Virtual Reality for Writers, Publishing and Gaming with Rob Morgan
- How Authors can use 3D printing with Kevin Koekkoek
- How to Use Data Science to Write and Sell More Books with Chris Fox
Transcript of the speech
We're looking forward to where things are going, the future of what's coming next, and I'm a bit of a closet futurist.
So, what are we excited about?
We are getting ready for five billion new consumers. That's why the Kobo map of all those countries is so exciting. Mark Zuckerberg was in Nigeria last week, you might have seen, introducing what was internet.org when I did this slide, but is now Free Basics, which is bringing the internet to the five billion consumers in the world who don't have it yet. So that's really exciting.
There are lots of companies who are doing this. If your book is available for sale globally, books are the way that people learn so they may buy your book in these new markets. This is what's exciting about the global model.
Earlier this year in India, they produced a smart phone for less than $5, which makes all of our iPhones look quite expensive. Providing the internet to the world doesn't matter if people can't access it.
But now people are now getting smart phones, so they will be able to get online.
I was in India last year and everyone's on their phones. In the markets, people have phones. They might not have a computer but they're the leapfrog countries. Have you guys heard that? They've leapfrogged landlines, laptops and now everything's gone straight to mobile.
If you want to reach those people, have your books on the mobile platforms where they actually buy.
New forms of payment
People in these leapfrog countries often don't have credit cards. They might not have a proper address like we do so they've had to look for new forms of payment. Digital payments are a projected $500 billion ecosystem because people are paying their phone bills with cash and that's how they can can buy books too.
There's been a number of authors now who have released their books onto cell phones first and people are paying through their phones with cash at local stores. These things together are going to revolutionize the way that people consume content, and if you think about the way that's going to open up the market to people.
We want to change lives as well as make money.
These new consumers are not going to buy your $300 course or your $1000 course, but you can still change their life with a $2.99 e-book. And that's exciting too, right? And if 100 million of them buy one, it's all good.
New forms of distribution
There are massive issues with drones in the US, and in the UK, because we have so much existing infrastructure. That's why drones are taking off in Sub-Saharan Africa, taking off in Asia, South America, places where they don't have so much legislation or so much physical infrastructure in place. I'm obviously excited for the drone delivery of medical supplies but think about it, people want physical books too.
They don't have a bookstore around the corner. It might be a long way into the nearest town. I love the idea of drones delivering books.
This is the key to the Gates of Hell. I have a book called ‘Gates of Hell' and this is a key that I had designed. What I want to do is include a 3D pattern where people can print the key to the gates of hell when they buy the book. How cool would that be?
What if a reader could print the clues to a murder mystery? What if people could print various things for your non-fiction book? When you control the content, this is the type of thing you can do.
So start thinking beyond the physical book.
It can be all of these things and that's just super exciting. I mean we are so at the beginning of this type of revolution.
Augmented reality and virtual reality
I fully expect to be doing talks like this in VR, I fully expect to be doing my fiction book launches in the Catacombs of Paris amongst all the bones.
Sacha Black says
I know this post is all serious and future thinking and stuff, but can I just take a moment to be a teenager and well excited by your key!!! I think I recall you mentioning the 3D key printing on the podcast. I am so impressed, its WICKED. Not only is it actually an amazing design its a piece of art and you PRINTED IT?! WTF. Awesome – I seriously hope your guna merch that badboy up. I bet you get loads of people wanting to buy them.
Joanna Penn says
Thanks for your enthusiasm, Sacha 🙂 I haven’t printed it yet – I wanted to – but when I published the book a few years ago, the tech wasn’t there yet – but it is now 🙂 so this is on my list for 2017. And yes, I wanna merch it up 🙂
Shane A. Mason says
Just 1/5000th of the present population buying your books will set you up.