A Writer in 2110



Image via Wikipedia


First, a little something for your ear. Faithless ~ Don’t Leave.

The Bowker Industry Report, New Book Titles & Editions, 2002-2009 tells us  the projected figure for 2009 new titles is over one million. About 760,000 of those are what Bowker term “Non-Traditional” – In their own words; *Non-traditional consists largely of reprints, often public domain, and other titles printed on-demand. The number also includes records received too late to receive subject classification.

It isn’t clear if that number includes eBooks, I suspect it doesn’t, and the report doesn’t make it clear.

I think the number of one million new books published annually is phenomenal. It is huge. Have there ever been so many books published before? No. I also think that number will increase to two million “Non traditional titles by 2012. For some reason this number of “new books” seems to “scare” people. But for those of us in technology they are quite small.

Here’s why.

There are 375 million people today who speak English as a first language. Another 450 million to over a billion speak English as a second language. Most people who speak English as a second language, read it better than they speak it. They are more comfortable reading. For the sake of this article, let’s be conservative and stick with 700 million English readers. In America it is estimated that about 75% of adults read a book, now and then. The number is higher is in the UK. Let’s say that the average reader reads four books a year and currently the average book costs US$11.29. That equals, roughly US$33.9 Billion.

OK. What if we then expand that number to include Spanish-speaking people? Total about 450 million. OK. What about Mandarin speaking? 1.3 Billion.

So how much would it cost to translate a book into those three main languages (for Mandarin you’d probably use Simplified Chinese)? Even taking an extreme upside, with lots of editorial management wrapped around each book, let’s say US$10,000 per language. Of course not all of those people read books. Not even all of them can afford to buy a book (not at US$20 for a hardcover anyway). So let’s take a smaller percentage of people who read books.

The publishing business totaled $35.7 billion in global sales last year, 3 percent more than the previous year, according to the Book Industry Study Group, a trade association. About 3.1 billion books were sold, an increase of less than 1 percent. (From 2007: source)

Broad math says that is an average of US$11.29 per book. With price ranging from US$20-00 down to US$.99, I reckon the average price of a book will halve in the very near future. Giving us US$5.6 for a book. At first glance this would make a Big Six CEO lose his breakfast, however, consider the volume.

By 2015, technology of mobile phones will have advanced, especially Smartphones. Their screens will be larger, or have the ability to be larger. Imagine four screens layered that become one and you will picture what I mean. How do I know this? In my day job it is one of the things we’re working on. By 2015 over 2.5 billion people will own Smartphones. Going by the numbers above, at least 1.3 Billion will be looking for something to read; daily, weekly and monthly. Growth of 60% within next five years in top line revenue, but you’re going to have to lose that 11.29 price tag.

Traditional publishing has a huge head start in this area through the established B2B contacts they have around the globe, but… I can find someone who can translate and someone who can read. It might be a bit hit or miss in this beginning. There’s always a risk, but over time I could put my writing in front of a potential 1.3 billion eyeballs. How cool is that? Very.

In a hundred years from now …  the population of Earth is 9.6 billion people. A few million hardy souls are living on the Moon, and Mars. Reading is a major past-time. Movies are great, but nothing compares to the imagery inspired by words, and turned into our own personal movie. The one playing in our head.

I said, “Upload,” and my content appeared on the major sites. AmazApple, Google, Choogle. The language tree populated, a final quick audio check, to make sure the translations were working. I set the price at GCU (Global Currency Unit) 2.99, a quarter of the price of a hot latte Grande at Starbucks. All good.

“Go live. Shrink screen and give me display total number of people, browsing books, by region in my genre, all languages. OK, 325 million. Give me geo location on how many of previous number are in Starbucks right now. OK, 5 million. All right post: Buy, “A Necessary Evil”, in the next 5 minutes, and get 5% off your next Starbucks purchase.”


About Simon Royle

Thinking about the future, and how to affect positive change for that future.
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