On the Coming Demise/Decline of Indie Christian Fiction
Last month book agent Chip MacGregor made a number of predictions on the future of Christian fiction. I don’t agree with any of his more bold predictions, and in fact I don’t think he knows what he is talking about.
But something about the way he wrote made me question whether our different viewpoints stemmed from Christian fiction possibly being a unique market niche.
And so I would like to open this post for debate.
Let’s start with a prediction which makes absolutely no sense to anyone who follows the greater digital publishing industry:
- There’s going to be a push to offer new books on mobile phone applications first. Publishers have figured out that people under 30 want to read books on their phones, so there’s going to be many titles that follow the video game market and are offered to mobile readers before anyone else.
See, this is one of the predictions that just doesn’t make sense from my vantage point.
Kindle is the majority of the trade ebook market, and releasing the Kindle ebook alongside print is SOP, so why would one release ebooks just for mobile phone apps?
I don’t see it, and I am also stumped by his prediction that:
- Barnes and Noble will open some mini-stores that only stock bestsellers. I don’t have any insider knowledge about this, but with Amazon opening brick-and-mortar stores, B&N has to do something to try and grab a bit more market share.
B&N no longer stocks as many books in its stores because books no longer generate the profit margin they used to.
So why would they open smaller stores – stores which would have above average operating costs – just to sell more books?
And then there is his claim that bundling will make a comeback:
- Everyone is going to start bundling ebooks. It’s been a growing movement among ebook publishers, and this year we’ll see major houses begin to do it… and thus shrink author earnings even more.
It’s not clear whether Chip is referring to ebook bundles, which the majors have done for years, or print+ebook bundles, which Shelfie has shown to be too small of a market to be viable.
But either way, I don’t see the return/rise of bundling as being any more likely than some of his other predictions:
- On the other hand, we’re going to see the end of the ultra-low price on ebooks. All those business geniuses who took over ebook lines and were told to grow the readership have now been slapped upside the head for not making enough money. So expect ebook prices to begin to grow across the board — meaning we’re moving toward the end of the 99-cent ebook, and thus earning authors a bit more and counter-balancing #6 above.
- We’re going to see a group of successful ebook authors quit indie publishing. For the record, I am NOT opposed to indie publishing, and have been very vocal in encouraging the authors I represent to consider doing some of their titles indie. But with declining indie sales, we’re now going to start seeing a migration of big-name authors back toward traditional publishers. Have a look at the news so far this year, and you’ll see the movement has already begun.
Those last two points sound like wishful thinking, don’t they?
image by D. Scott Taylor