Predictions: Media and Publishing in 2010

Our 2009 predictions are here.

Our 2010 predictions are here . . .

My Predictions from Last Year: I got it right that companies tried to move online fast, though that took to later 2009, hyperlocal got big, more online comics, and bookstores did look to add more mostly via e-readers.  What I got wrong was Nintendos books-on-carts being relevant and TOTALLY missed the Disney/Marvel thing.

This year's predictions:

  • Media companies in transition.  Between the Apple-CBS-Disney partnering, the Comcast purchase of NBC, and so on, media companies are going to move more and more online.  A surprising amount of turmoil and turnover will start as companies look to online distribution and alliances to send out content, cut costs, and make money.  No one is actually 100% sure what's going on, so we'll see many predictions and extrapolations – most of them wrong.  By the end of the year no one will have entirely figured it out.
  • The year of the e-book.  More people jumping into it, more deliveries – and more controversies.
  • E-book readers on notebooks, iPhone, etc. will explode, and by the end of 2010 it will be accepted that e-readers will be specialty devices and more people just download the program.
  • There will be more moves to do rich, multimedia e-magazines, but it won't be entirely realized in 2010.  What we see with Skiff and others is the laying of a foundation – cultural and technical – for "e books on steroids."
  • Expect confusion and unpleasantness over the variety of e-reader formats, exclusive contracts, and more.  Authors will want to renegotiate deals, change deals, make new deals with other e-reader companies, etc.  By end of 2010 there will be talk of more universal formats and some brands will die or consolidate.
  • Comics will more more online and to different release formats.  This will not end the traditional comic book, but expect predictions of such an end.  Reporters and journalists will rediscover webcomics, which have been doing something like this for years, and act like it's new.  Webcomic authors will try and take advantage of technical and cultural changes.
  • Surviving news companies will manage to bounce back and start working on plans to deal with the changes.  A lot of innovation will take place, but we won't see the full shape of it for awhile.
  • Self-publishing will become grudgingly accepted more and more – only if because e-books will produce whole new areas of concern for those with amore traditionalist approach to publishing.  At least one more company will appear following in Harlequin's footsteps and doing self-publishing.
  • The many media changes will keep lawyers busy and legal issues will slow many big initiatives.


  • The big news here will come in the form of the rumored partnership between Apple, CBS and Disney (parent company of ABC). It’s been speculated that Comcast bought NBC because they wanted to launch some kind of Web venture (remember, NBC is the part-owners of Hulu), and it’s entirely possible that they got wind of AppleBC and decided to counter it – or vice-versa.

Anyway, my prediction is AppleBC will, indeed, launch to great fanfare, and it, combined with NBComcast and increasing use of Web-to-TV devices (the Boxee Box, Apple TV), will spell big trouble for traditional methods of paid TV distribution (cable, satellite, Verizon Fios). Look for Cablevision and Time Warner to protect their own hides by striking their own TV deals – having one of them go in as a partner in AppleBC is a distinct possibility.

  •  Periodical publishing will take an increasing paper-to-pixels term. Sony’s new newspaper service and Skiff will have successful launches, though both will end up going cross-platform (putting Sony in the unusual position of being a content distributor, not a hardware distributor). You may see some formerly killed-off publications (like Gourmet) re-launching as electronic-only, and more publishers will take the approach of the resurrected Vibe – the print publication will be secondary to the Web/E-reader version.
  • Borders will, indeed, jump into the E-reader business with both feet, although they will focus less on marketing a device and more on an iTunes-like portal that will offer content for all sorts of readers, smartphones and netbooks. Given their strong background in manga publishing, I can see them striking exclusive deals for E-content distribution with some of the non-Tokyopop, non-Viz publishing houses, like Del Rey Manga and Yen Press.
  • Everyone and their grandmother will try to get into the E-reader business (including some cell phone companies), but the market will quickly contract around two or three devices (Kindle, Nook and Sony are the no-brainer survivors). More and more E-reader business will spread to other devices, leaving the future of readers questionable.
  • James Cameron’s Avatar will result in an enormous boom in 3-D moviemaking. Inferior, rushed-out product will quickly kill the trend, though, so don’t bank on this influencing a future career direction.