What we’ll see in 2013 in digital media

Laura Owen

1. Remaining book publishers will settle with the DOJ in the ebook pricing lawsuit:. HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette have already settled, while Macmillan and Penguin are still fighting. To be clear, I don’t believe publishers and Apple conspired to set ebook prices, as the DOJ alleges. But with Random House and Penguin preparing to merge, a drawn-out trial seems like a drag on moving forward, and Macmillan (smallest of the big-six publishers) doesn’t have the funds for a long trial. I’m not going to try to predict what Apple will do — maybe they’ll keep fighting. (I hope I’m wrong about the settlement because reporting on the trial from court would be extremely interesting.)

2. A well-known author will turn down a seven-figure deal to self-publish: I think 2013 is the year we will see a famous author turn down their long-time traditional publisher and self-publish their new book — even just as an experiment. This author would likely be someone with a very large fan base and social media presence and the ability to reach readers directly across platforms. I don’t believe this person would sign an exclusive deal with Amazon; rather, I see him or her selling directly through a website and other retailers. Authors who would be capable of doing this include Neil Gaiman, Jennifer Weiner, Jodi Picoult and Lee Child.

3. Barnes & Noble will drastically cut back its Nook product line: In 2012, Nook released a new glow-in-the-dark e-reader and two new Nook HD tablets, which means that B&N now sells two e-readers, one super-low-end e-reader/tablet, two low-end tablets, and two HD tablets. Why? Who is buying them? B&N’s share of the ebook market has been stuck around 25 percent for months, and there are plenty of other low-priced tablets on the market. Microsoft has invested $300 million in the Nook business, but that doesn’t have to mean more Nook devices: instead, it should mean developing better Windows 8 reading apps and trying to spread Nook business internationally with the devices it already has.