Five Absurd Forecasts for 2011

Forecasts and predictions are almost always wrong. That’s half the fun in making them or reading them. As much as professional economists or political wonks like to prognosticate about what the next quarter or the next election holds, the truth is, no one knows until it happens. And even though these “experts” are routinely wrong, no one seems to remember or care. Given that the “experts” get a free pass, I don’t feel any guilt in making five forecasts of my own for 2011, with an extra dash of absurdity thrown in. Why not? You never know.

  1. E-book sales will equal print book sales by the end of the year. That’s right—50 percent of the market in the next 12 months, not some wimpy seven or nine percent. And why not? Digital technologies are exploding. No one had even heard of Twitter four years ago. Things happen fast.
  2. Two dozen more major market newspapers will end their print editions. It happened in Seattle, it more or less happened in Detroit, and it’s coming to a major metro daily near you. Why go to Blockbuster when there’s Netflix? Print is yesterday’s news. I give print magazines a pass for now—they have shelf life, but look for more and more publications to go exclusively online.
  3. The Internet and TV will become one. This whole notion that television is one medium and the Internet is another is very 20th century. Most new HDTVs are Internet-ready, and you can choose to get your kicks from cable or from Hulu or YouTube. It’s all data in a wire hooked to a screen.
  4. Self-publishing will exceed the traditional publishing house route. More and more authors are going the do-it-yourself route, and the Internet makes it easier than ever to get your book out there. The catch: it may be easier than ever to publish a book, but it will remain hard to write a good one.
  5. Reading will surpass television watching as the national pastime. A million librarians around the world just felt a tingle run down their spines. But why not? It’s easier than ever to read—on your phone, your computer tablet, your desktop, your e-reader. And it’s downloadable. You don’t even have to get off the couch. And with your HDTV connected to the Internet, you can read in 60” 1080p. That’s just decadent.

Crazy? Ridiculous? Maybe. Check in with me this time next year—if you haven’t forgotten.

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