Digital books to boom

An interesting forecast from James McQuivey of Forrester Research about the changing face of the book trade and how it will impact on authors, including this key par:

Meanwhile, authors won’t like that advances are going down, marketing spend is plummeting, and royalties are shrinking (especially now that 30% of the eBook price goes to the bookseller in most cases). Suddenly, self-publishing is a real alternative for anybody with even a modest Twitter following, especially when Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) is offering 70% of the retail price of ebooks—paid monthly, not twice annually.

I wonder if this means authors who might be getting a smaller advance might also reap a higher royalty?

I do hope Amazon doesn’t become a publishing behemoth — I distrust monopolies and, besides, as much as I enjoy being able to access their store, it still irks me that their little customer loyalty mp3 vouchers are only available to customers within the US (thanks for shopping with us, Aussie, here’s something you can’t have that others can). I think the breaking down of the publishing regions will be a fascinating and angsty process, something perhaps we are seeing being eroded already with global (well, UK/US/Oz) market approaches from the likes of Harper Collins’ Voyager and Hachette’s Orbit.

I can foresee a time, alluded to by McQuivey, when the hard copy will be a collectable and the ebook will be the equivalent of the modern mass market paperback. I don’t mind that, either as consumer or content producer. McQuivey’s earlier post offered a neat summary of how going digital completely changes the economic model of business:

In the end, once the only channel from which revenue is derived starts to get remodeled, it’s not long before the whole structure gets torn down and rebuilt to accommodate the new dominant distribution model.