As the world works its way into the first few months of 2024, publishers should be focused on the importance of staying on top of trends in the book publishing industry. While there's something to be said for classic ideas and options that work for the long term, focusing on trends is also a big part of keeping everything in the industry fresh, new, and interesting to consumers. Here are five of the biggest trends you'll want to keep your eye on.
More and more people are choosing to listen to books instead of reading them. A survey conducted by the Audio Publishers Association (APA) in 2023 showed that 53% of adults had listened to at least one audiobook that year, where in 2022 that figure was 45%. As the popularity of audiobooks continues to surge, 2024 is poised to welcome an even large audience of audiobook enthusiasts.
That's an important note for publishers who may be on the fence about the number of audiobooks they're producing. In the past, publishers typically only turned best-selling books and those with a strong reader following into audiobooks, but that’s not necessarily the case anymore as the demand for audiobooks grows.
Multi-tasking is a common technique for busy lives, and audiobooks fit right into the mix. Instead of holding a book or an e-reader, they can just listen to their books and continue with other activities at the same time. Consumer preferences are changing, and publishers have to stay on top of those preferences for increased success.
Social media's role in book discovery and marketing is another trend worth watching for the long term. BookTok, which is the term used for book-related videos from influencers on TikTok, is changing the sales landscape of the publishing industry. When influencers talk about a particular book, sales rise. Often, that rise is much more than what publishers are expecting and demand can exceed supply.
Not only do publishers need to have enough books available to handle these kinds of experienced, they need to make sure they're maximizing their social media presence and watching for BookTok videos that will change the game for the books they're selling. By watching for these videos and sharing information about them, they can further boost their sales figures. Staying active on sites like TikTok, where influencers often talk about books, is a great way for publishers to see growth.
Artificial intelligence is transforming numerous aspects of the publishing process. Not only do publishers have to start watching out for AI-written content, but they need to acknowledge that AI can also be helpful for authors and publishing houses alike. It can streamline the creation process, from idea creation to outlining, and also make publishing easier through tools for editing and formatting.
However, AI can become a problem when it's not used the right way. There have already been lawsuits over AI using copyrighted work for content creation, studying human language, and more. Publishers should proceed with caution when it comes to AI tools. It's important not to become dependent on them or develop too much reliance on what they offer. Additionally, it's vital that publishers have a process in place to vet authors to ensure the content they're providing is their own work.
There is a growing emphasis on accessibility in book publishing, with a strong impact from legislative acts that have called for more regulation and required publishers to make additional accommodations for readers. As an example, publishers can enhance the accessibility of their offerings with options like large print, accurate metadata, and more.
Not only does that help readers enjoy more books, but it also gives publishers additional ways to market what they're offering to the public. Publishers that go above and beyond the required level of accessibility for their books will get noticed by readers looking for additional options.
Diversity and inclusion in literature has become another important trend for publishers in recent years. There have been additional efforts made by publishers to diversify both authorship and content, allowing for more voices to be heard and helping readers see that they're being represented by people just like them.
Publishers should be focused on strategies for promoting inclusivity in the industry, such as sponsoring contests for diverse writers, marketing books as diverse in specific ways, and listening to reader feedback in order to improve the inclusive nature of future authorship and representation.
Trends are intersecting on social media and in the public eye, with social media calling out publishers that aren't inclusive and authors fighting back against AI-based options that could take work away from them. The intertwined nature of these trends is worth noting, as it's not realistic for publishers to focus on only one of these emerging trends while placing no emphasis on the others. A collaborative approach will take publishes further with authors and readers.
For 2024, publishers need to focus their efforts on accessibility, diversity, social media, the responsible use of AI, and audiobooks. Embracing change is the way to make sure the publishing industry can evolve with the times, keeping it viable and strong for the future. Books will always be popular with many people, and making sure they're as accessible and inclusive as possible is the way to keep readers (and now listeners) for life.