My 2024 Views and Predictions

James Macfarlane

January 8, 2023




Written By
James Macfarlane

My publishing industry predictions for 2024.

Both The Bookseller and Publishers Weekly have recently reported that as tough as 2023 was, 2024 will be even tougher for large publishers in the global market.

True, the likes of Bloomsbury have reported good growth and strong numbers in 2023. However, the nature of publishing is that most success is due to consistently picking popular authors and their books. Selling more as a result of sophisticated marketing also helps.

On the downside, big picture issues remain a concern for publishers. Price inflation in labour is a global problem. Sourcing materials for traditional print continued as upward pressure in 2023. Finally, the impact of rising inflation over the past three years has pushed up operational costs and print prices. Inflation will continue to be a concern in 2024, albeit at lower levels we hope.

Add to that the looming impact of mandated accessibility for digital readers, which will affect many non-fiction and academic publishers in 2024 through to 2025.

Sadly, this paints a gloomy picture for many in the traditional publishing industry.

If we turn to new threats, the considerable impact that OpenAI and ChatGPT has had in 2023 will continue to worry publishers and their lawyers in 2024. The launch of OpenAI’s generative AI product just over a year ago has already had a significant effect on the industry. In September, Reddit and The Guardian reported that 19 of the Amazon top 100 bestsellers were generated by ChatGPT.

Clearly, Amazon has embraced the flood of generative AI Books, as, after all, it’s just sales to them.

Many column inches have been devoted to this topic in 2023 and the consensus is that the impact of AI on publishing and authors alike is unwelcome.

Existing copyright legislation is robust, and if we consider that generative AI is not a “free creative spirit” then enforced legislation in the larger publishing markets should prevail.

The science behind the rise of Artificial Intelligence dates back to Alan Turning’s 1948 paper on Intelligent Machinery1. Today, the rise of AI evokes both dystopian and utopian views in the business world and society in general.

Personally, for now, I’m in the utopian camp with a “but”!

From the application of cognitive AI in many industries and the current body of evidence, it is difficult to deny that the introduction of generative AI and AGI improves individual and process productivity.

Historically, when this has happened in a capitalist economy output increases per capita, and business margins improve. Improving margins means increased profits; shareholders and staff are the beneficiaries of this improved business performance.

Surely that will be the case for the application of AI in the publishing industry?

Of course, many of us “old-timers” have seen this collective reaction from authors and publishers before. In 2008, the vaunted advent of eBooks was considered by many as a technology set to decimate the publishing world! Today, Amazon sells $1.8bn eBooks per year and virtually every publisher globally sees eBooks as just another revenue stream.

The rise of eBooks was a natural evolution of reader technology in the publishing world; audiobooks followed a similar trajectory. Technology has increased the availability of books in society, which can ultimately only be seen as a good thing.

Why should we not consider the impact of generative AI on our industry in the same way?

Generative AI content is here to stay, and has the potential, in my view, to revolutionise the publishing industry in a way that will make the introduction and impact of eBooks and audiobooks look quite pedestrian.

How does the publishing industry rise above its current AI outrage?

The answer is simple: think differently!

My 2024 crystal ball predictions on generative AI

Let’s be clear, generative AI is not a phenomenon. It is merely a process for enhancing curated content. Guided machine learning is trained to process content entering a central repository system, known as a Large Language Model (LLM). The LLM categorises while predictive analytics rank and estimate outcomes based on a set of defined scenarios, such as:

“Is this likely to be a bestseller?”

“How much will this cost to produce?”

“Based on readership interest, where is the best market to sell this?”

“Based on predicted demand, how many books could I sell and at what price?”

Coupled with predictive analytics, the development of a generative AI-based Large Book Model (LBM) has the potential, with time and appropriate guidance, to have a massive positive impact on publishing performance.

By transforming and streamlining production workflows , the industries workforce could focus on more creative projects with the assurance of already improved sales margins.

How a publishing AI-based phenomenon could be achieved will be the subject of further blogs in 2024 from myself and the Easypress team.

1 Intelligent Machinery – A Report, A M Turing 1948 (National Physical Laboratory, UK


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