Top 5 Trends in the Publishing Industry for 2024

Long rather staid, the publishing industry is undergoing rapid – even wrenching – change as described below where we list in order of increasing importance this year’s five trends having the greatest impact.

5. Audiobook and Podcast Publishing

Use of audio content continues to rise due to the convenience of listening on the go combined with the uniquity of smartphones. It’s a significant trend but its impact is more about diversifying formats and subjects rather than introducing new publishing industry practices.
  • Audible: Leading publisher of audiobooks and other spoken-word content with a vast library sold via subscriptions.
  • Spotify: Originally a digital music vendor, Spotify now also sells podcasts access.

4. Independent and Self-Publishing

Self-publishing platforms and related services (art, copy editing, etc.) allow authors to publish their work without traditional publishing company gatekeepers. Higher royalty rates and the ability to reach a global audience feed the trend. It reshapes the industry by allowing more voices to be heard, but it mostly affects individual authors rather than the publishing industry as a whole.
  • Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing: KDP offers a way for authors to self-publish e-books and paperbacks for free and earn royalties by reaching millions of Amazon’s readers.
  • IngramSpark: A self-publishing service where authors publish and distribute print and e-books globally through Ingram's extensive book distribution network.

3. Digital-First Publishing

Digital-first publishing prioritizes the release of e-books and online content before their print versions, speeding distribution and lowering overall production costs. This trend is growing as more readers use digital formats and is becoming a competitive necessity for publishers.
  • Wattpad: A digital storytelling platform where writers publish their work to a global community of readers and maybe attract the attention of major media players like Hulu, Penguin and MacMillan.
  • HarperCollins Digital Imprint: This old-school publisher is now a leader in digital-first publishing with imprints that specialize in the e-book format.

2. Subscription Models

Similar to the emergence of subscription models in the world of video entertainment (e.g., Netflix, Discover, National Geographic, etc.), subscription services for e-books, audiobooks, and other digital content are taking market share. The model offers consistent revenue but requires vast libraries and continuous production.
  • Scribd: Subscribers gain access to 170 million e-books, audiobooks, and other documents housed in one of the world’s largest digital libraries.
  • Kindle Unlimited: Amazon's well-known subscription service for e-books and audiobooks.

1. AI in Content Creation and Curation

As is the case with many other industries, AI is transforming the publishing business. It does so by assisting in content creation, curation, and personalized recommendations by analyzing reader preferences. While these AI capabilities by themselves represent a foundational shift, potentially even more fundamental may be its impact on the largely autonomous creation of original content.
  • OpenAI: Develops advanced AI models that helps writers create content and one day may replace them.
  • Tableau: A Salesforce division, Tableau develops AI-powered tools that convert data into narratives.
Encyclopedia Britannica retained a Kuhn Capital team member to raise capital from a banking consortium
Encyclopedia publisher Grolier retained a Kuhn Capital team member to provide strategic advisory services
Publisher McGraw-Hill retained a Kuhn Capital team member to provide strategic advisory services across global markets