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Friday, January 2, 2009

Can the future of books and publishing be predicted from public trends?

Richard Watson (pictured) is a futurist -- a predictor of trends, that is, not an astrologer -- who foresees ten shifts in public sentiment this year.

To sum them up briefly:

1. Greenies will become unpopular, as people rebel against being told how to think.

2. Businesses will become more businesslike.

3. Real friends will replace internet connections.

4. Being in debt will no longer be trendy.

5. Wrinkles are in, botox is out.

6. People will support local enterprise vs. global brands.

7. Families and neighborhoods are in, lavish parties are out.

8. Children's treats won't be delivered on demand.

9. Bankers and executives will bottom out in popularity.

10. People will become nastier as anger takes charge.

Richard Watson has already had a stab at predicting future trends in newspapers, but what about publishing and books in general? What ideas can be gleaned from his predictions of public trends?

Well, this is the way I see it. Books on hobbies and handcrafts will take off as people find their own useful things to do at home. Quilting, knitting, and dressmaking magazines with easy-to-follow guides will find a good market, and women's magazines will feature recipes and homemaking tips, and have "ordinary" people on the covers.

Those fancy cooking books with glossy pictures and recipes that one just might follow if one was putting on a special dinner party will be replaced by homely books containing recipes for twenty-five ways with hamburger mince, and little iced cakes for all those family visits and neighborhood get-togethers.

And gardening! There was never a better time to produce a vegetable gardening guide, with a section for every season.

And because hobbies, like gardens, differ from area to area, and region to region, local - meaning small - presses will flourish.

Am I right? Would Richard Watson agree with me? Only the future will tell.

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