Where Are Books Heading in 2018?

Another year, another 647 million plus unit book sales in the United States. As 2017 marks the fourth consecutive year of sales growth, 2018 aims to set records as artificial intelligence meets the publishing industry. With 2017 in the rearview mirror and nostalgia in the air, we’re able to look back and celebrate the great achievements of the past year: The fidget spinner trend is officially over, Bon Jovi has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and an American has infiltrated the British royal family. What a year! On a more practical note, the publishing industry experienced significant growth of its own: 2017 is predicted to close with a 2% overall increase in sales, just about 13.5 million more books sold than in 2016. Genres such as non-fiction, comics & graphic novels, and young adult have been credited with leading sales growth in recent years, with travel gaining speed as we enter the new year. E-book sales, on the other hand, were reported to be down nearly 20% entering 2017. Although tablets are becoming a normalized technology in society, the novelty of e-reading seems to be waning. In fact, this Gallup survey shows adults are reading printed books at about the same rate adults were in 2002. Even children (ages 6 to 17) who grew up in the digital age vastly prefer print, with 65% saying that they always want to read print. That brings us to 2018. No matter how many sales figures we analyze, we will never be able to process the information as efficiently as a computer: Case in point, the calculator versus long division. Now imagine being able to do the same thing with an entire manuscript, or thousands of manuscripts, apply it to sales figures and market trends instantly with a click of a button and literally see the future before your eyes. AI companies like StoryFit are entering the publishing industry with a splash and are going to change the way we read, write, and sell books. That’s not to say that the complexity and creativity of the human mind is being replaced by AI. According to Christen Thompson, Director of Business Development at StoryFit, “We don’t want to pretend that creating stories, movies and books is purely machine activity. There’s just no way it could be. The point is that AI is not the time to turn off your brains, but it instead is a different way to look at your data. At StoryFit, we do this through text-driven analysis that produces content insights, audience analytics, and tangible metadata/keywords to help make content more discoverable and in a more organic way for the end user." To learn more about the capabilities of AI in publishing, check out our interview with StoryFit founder and CEO, Monica Landers.

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