Brenda Cooper

2012 Predictions Round-up

Every year I play a predictions game.  It’s not really good futuring (after all, there remain no jetpacks).  But I still like the game.  So here goes an analysis of my results for 2012:

Publishing and Creativity:

There will be more attempts to make good franchises with rich multimedia (like Greg Bear and Neal Stephenson’s Mongolaid, like Al Gore’s Our Choice iPad App).  I’m expecting more of this to come out in 2012 than 2011.  One major success could drive this market – Twilight or Harry Potter like sales of something interactive and multimedia but that is not a movie or a mash up of marketing with a book.

I didn’t see as much of this as I’d hoped.  David Farland did a nice enhanced version of his YA novel Nightingale that seems to be doing well.  There are a few others out there.  But no big change.  Still, I will re-predict this for next year.  Love to hear from any of you that have good examples of new format books that are for adults. 

In the book biz, the end of 2012 will see:

  • Most publishers doing better than the end of 2011, with some winners in the big companies and a few rising stars that keep rising in the mid-pack (Nightshade, for example, or Prime).  Which ones succeed at this size depends on individuals rather than corporate culture. This is an ever-changing industry, but I couldn’t find a clear upward trend.  This suggests the changing business models haven’t yet been really absorbed.
  • Barnes and Noble will still exist.Yep. Although a few flagship stores have closed. Stock prices are just above what they were last year, and still a lot lower than five years ago.  But they don’t appear to be in much trouble or poised for a big gain, either.
  • Authors will gain a bit more leverage on things like e-royalties because self-publishing will remain viable, and smaller publishers with less overhead will be able to compete better against the big boys. Not sure about this one.  Authors at the top have more leverage, but they would have had that anyway.  E-book royalty rates don’t seem to be increasing as fast as I hoped they would.  There’s some success for the self-published, but also a lot of slow sales and false starts.  Kickstarter has allowed for a few good things to happen.

America:

  • I expect a dismal political year.  So far, as an election year, it’s already boring and bad. Mostly right.  The most dismal political season I’ve ever seen.  The good news? For me, the election came out right.  More good news on same-sex marriage, Obama a better bet than Romney, and we’ve landed a Governor in Washington State who cares about the beautiful environment we have here.  But the scary schism between us all is getting worse rather than better.  And that’s not good news.  We need centrists on both sides and we haven’t got them.  The Republican party continues to implode and intelligent conservatism is coming through the Blue Dogs, so the whole thing is more an argument within the Democratic party that doesn’t change much as the far right stops most progress.
  • The economy is a heck of a wild card, and its global underpants are showing as the Eurozone and China affect us. My prediction, with a whopping barely over 50% feeling of a half-full glass?  Our economy will keep struggling up.  Outliers?  Continued Eurozone problems are at worst a drag, but if China sees big change downward, we could teeter all over again.  This is a time when every single strong economy helps the whole:  We should root for everyone.  This is not a zero-sum game. Yes.  Struggling remains the right word.  The US and world economy remains a house of cards.  But we are trending up.  At least as of the moment (the fiscal cliff remains undecided as I wrote this, and is overblown anyway.  But economies are creatures of expectations and mood, shaped by news and spin as much as real action).
  • We’ll keep having climate disasters and for the most part, the America public will keep (illogically) believing it’s not caused by us.  Those of us who are NOT skeptics remain frustrated as hell and write brilliant essays that are ignored.  Mostly right. The best news is that I’m sensing a shift in climate understanding after Sandy.  Maybe that will play out next year, which would be great.  If I had to be a little wrong on any of these, that was the prediction to be a little wrong on.

Governance

Regardless of the fact that it won’t impact America as much as it should, governance will be a topic for thinkers everywhere.   The Arab Spring and Occupy are all about tearing down existing structures.  The conversation of what to do after that will play out at least in actions (e.g. continued struggle like what is happening in Egypt today).  I am sure this is a conversation happening behind the closed doors of the powerful.  Hopefully it will also play out in the blogosphere and elsewhere is a truly meaningful way. Consider this a prediction of the conversation, but not of conclusions.

I don’t see much sign of this.  We need a better form of governance and a more international one, since we have international problems to solve.  But it’s not happening.  The Arab Spring countries are seeing a thin spring at best, the cost of Syria is scary, and there hasn’t been a lot of settling.  Let’s hope it’s just a matter of time.  

Summary?  More right than not, and not flat-wrong on anything.  I’m a little disappointed that I’m not seeing the changes I was hoping for in publishing or better governance.  At any rate, that wraps 2012.  On to think about 2013.