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Review of 2011 and Trends Watch 2012
by
Posted On January 5, 2012


Severe weather, natural disasters, the killing of Osama bin Laden, political uprisings, budget crises, celebrity scandals, hot high-tech toys, the death of Steve Jobs, and the U.S. troops leaving Iraq—what will you remember from 2011? Techies will no doubt focus on the iPad 2, iPhone 4S, the Kindle Fire, and the rest of the new Kindle family, and all the new apps for smartphones. Folks in the information industry will likely remember 2011 as one of adapting new technologies and testing viable business models for the new emerging information landscape. Librarians will likely remember it as a year of intense pressure to squeeze more e-resources and services from their (shrinking) budgets.

And the way ereaders and tablets have been selling in the last quarter of 2011, librarians can expect a flood of consumers coming into the library asking to download ebooks. On Dec. 15, 2011, Amazon announced that for the third consecutive week, customers purchased more than 1 million Kindle devices per week.

Analyst Michael Wolf, writing at GigaOm, said, “Of all the markets I’ve followed in my decade-plus as a consumer analyst, I’ve never seen a market changing faster than the digital publishing market of today, where the sudden love of ebooks has created a ‘digital backdraft’ that has set the entire publishing industry value chain aflame.”

He forecasts the U.S. ebook marketplace will exceed $5 billion by 2016 (growing from just under $2 billion in 2011). Here are three of his “areas of disruption”:

  • Collapse of distribution
  • Book discovery is now social
  • Multiplatform/multiscreen access is expected

Hot Topics in 2011

Over the past year, the most-read news article posted on the infotoday.com site was about Amazon’s April announcement of its forthcoming Kindle Library Lending program. Amazon’s announcement of availability of the lending program through OverDrive in September was also important. This was followed closely by the article in July about the ebook rivalry between Amazon and Google.

In fact, all of the articles covering ebooks and libraries were hotly read items, especially Nancy Herther’s reporting on the Kansas State Library contract dispute with OverDrive. Unhappy about price increases, Kansas chose to switch to the 3M Cloud Library.

Unfortunately, there was and still is an adversarial atmosphere among libraries, publishers, and aggregators. Librarians in particular felt they were being left out of important discussions—on rights, pricing, contract terms, and more. Fearful of losing sales, many major publishers now block libraries’ access to the ebook form of either all of their titles or their most recently published ones. There is also the distinct feeling that the ones really calling the shots are Amazon, Apple, and Google—not publishers and not librarians. Amazon’s free lending for its Amazon Prime customers looks like a direct competitor to public libraries. The next year will be key to see if librarians can be heard in the discussion.

As Eric Hellman blogged, 2011 was “The Year the eBook Wars Broke Out.” But he says there is hope. “I have learned that whenever it seems that you're falling into the abyss, you must reach for a rope. There is always a rope.”

For a comprehensive look at the issues, see the feature article by Charles Hamaker in the December 2011 issue of Searcher, “Ebooks on Fire: Controversies Surrounding Ebooks in Libraries.” In his conclusion he says, “What we need is a revolution, not a continuation of tighter controls. We must find another way to “do” ebooks … Concerned readers, libraries, school systems, institutions of higher education, aggregators, publishers, and their associations should come together to create criteria for acceptable and desired features of the new landscape.”

Meanwhile, important library-oriented efforts hoping to provide new solutions continue to push forward, such as the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Internet Archive’s OpenLibrary, and the grass-roots initiative, Library Renewal.

The DPLA just announced that the initial development phase of the common core platform (between now and April 2012) will be led by an interim development team drawn from existing Harvard Library and Berkman Center staff, in regular consultation with the Steering Committee and Technical Aspects workstream.

Reflecting the issues and trends of importance, other popular topics in our NewsBreaks this year (the full list is available at http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com) included the following:

  • Mobile and tablet computing
  • Cloud computing
  • Etextbooks
  • Geolocation
  • Discovery layers (Summon, EBSCO EDS, OCLC WorldCat Local, Ex Libris Primo)
  • Semantic search
  • Social search
  • Google+
  • Voice-powered search apps—notably Siri, the voice-activated search function on Apple’s iPhone 4S
  • Publishing companies migrating even faster from print to digital
  • Hot legislative issues (Do Not Track, patent and copyright, online privacy, etc.)
  • Ongoing legal wrangling over the Google Book Settlement case

Looking Forward—What’s Hot for 2012

  • More privacy issues
  • Network and device security
  • Tablets become even more popular; watch for a showdown between iPad 3 and Kindle Fire 2
  • Touch technology interfaces
  • iPhone 5 is expected to launch
  • Ongoing adoption of cloud computing
  • More adoption of EPUB 3
  • More adoption of HTML5-fueled mobile web apps—offers cross-platform support
  • Possible shakeout among all the new options for news—Flipboard, Trove, etc. (see July/August NewsWatch column in Information Today)
  • Big data/analytics
  • More experiments with paid content (subscriptions, metered pay models, etc.)
  • App overload?

Through Other Lenses

Not even waiting until year’s end, Bing unveiled the top searches of 2011 on Nov. 28, 2011 at BingTrends.com. Bing.com also created an original video to recap the year in search, ending the clip with the Twitter hashtag #My2011. According to Bing searches, 2011 was the year of musical superstars, continued celebrity fascination, saving money, concern for human tragedy (natural disasters), and new royalty.

Google released its annual Zeitgeist report for 2011. In addition it produced: The Evolution Of Search In Six Minutes, which highlights important milestones and hints at what’s to come.

PaidContent has published a series of articles with the Highlights of 2011. Topics include mobile, book publishing, CEO shuffles at media outlets, digital advertising, tech and publishing lawsuits, and the progression of paid content. It also published a series of articles on What’s Coming in 2012.

ReadWriteWeb shared its 2012 Staff Predictions (And What We Got Wrong in 2011)

Posted at the DigitalBookWorld blog is “Ten Bold Predictions for Book Publishing in 2012.”

Daylife, a cloud publishing platform for publishers (including Thomson Reuters, Mashable, and NPR), forecast what it expects in 2012 in the Digital Publishing scene. It’s an intriguing list of six predictions. I found this one the most interesting. The internet will become hyper-personalized. “The massive maze of information known as the internet will one day have its own apocalypse and be reborn as a new source of customized information similar to what we know as apps today—essentially, your own highly personal internet.”

Facebook shared a list of “the most shared articles in the U.S. on Facebook over the past year. The stories range from cute to thought-provoking and represent the type of news people have been sharing and discovering with friends in 2011.” Interestingly, (disappointingly?), the 40 articles came from just six online news sources, in this order: Yahoo!, CNN, NewYorkTimes.com, HuffPost, Washington Post, and the WSJ.

Gartner, “Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users, 2012 and Beyond: Control Slips Away.” The report is available for purchase, but the site offers a downloadable video of managing VP and Gartner Fellow Daryl Plummer discussing the top IT predictions for 2012 and beyond. Not surprisingly, Gartner sees the key forces shaping the future of IT as these four: social, the cloud, mobile, and lots of information. Here’s one of the predictions: “By 2016, 40% of enterprises will make proof of independent security testing a precondition for using any type of cloud service.” It is surprising to me that it would take that long.

IDC will publish dozens of IDC Top 10 Predictions documents for 2012 and deliver a series of Predictions web conferences throughout December, January, and February. IDC says the ICT (Information and communications technologies) industry is “at the beginning of a once-every-two-decades shift to an entirely new computing platform.” This new platform will be built on the strength of four foundation technologies: cloud services and cloud enabling technologies; mobile devices, applications, and next-generation broadband networks; big data/analytics; and social technologies.

At the end of each year, IBM examines market and societal trends expected to transform our lives, as well as emerging technologies from IBM's global labs, to develop a multi-year innovations forecast for the next 5 years called “The Next 5 in 5.” Take a look—they are pretty interesting.

Stephen Abram, known for his strategic thinking and innovation in libraries, posted his Education Institute Presentation: Dec. 13, 2011, 12 Things to Watch in 2012.

Forrester Research believes that the world will move away from the web toward the App Internet—powerful local devices (such as an iPad) running programs that transparently link to resources in the cloud. Forrester’s CEO George Colony has talked for some time about the “Death of the Web, the approach of App Internet.” At a meeting in December, he said the App Internet market is worth $2.2 billion, and “decision makers at 41% of companies are now moving away from Web-based software toward the App Internet.”

For a different perspective, see Dave Winer’s comments that apps are not the future because of their closed nature. “Visualize each of the apps they want you to use on your iPad or iPhone as a silo. A tall vertical building. It might feel very large on the inside, but nothing goes in or out that isn’t well-controlled by the people who created the app. That sucks!”

Last year I predicted that 2011 would not be dull—and that’s certainly been the case. So out with the old, in with the new. Bring on the news! And Happy New Year to everyone from all of us at Information Today, Inc.


Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.

Email Paula J. Hane
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