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Seven publishing trends that will define 2013

Stashed in: Tumblr!, Curation, @sarahcuda, Awesome, BuzzFeed!, Innovation, Content is king.

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Micro-publising.  Text is king!

I'm not sure I've ever read anything micropublished, and I had to look up the definition:

It started with Marco Arment’s The Magazine, then was followed by an essay by Craig Mod on “subcompact publishing,” and now it’s developing into a movement, with publications like The Awl’sWeekend Companion and Matter jumping in, and digital publishing shops like 29th Street PublishingThe PeriodicalPressBooks, and Ganxy providing the tools for the age of premium micropublishing.

The defining characteristic of micropublishing is that it is lightweight, putting the focus on text-based stories while eschewing the rich-media add-ons, and sometimes even pictures, that require more computer memory and download time. The publications can be distributed on the open Web or via apps. In 2013, as reading habits shift to memory-lite and cloud-enabled mobile devices such as iPads and large-screen smartphones, this approach to publishing will become more prevalent and important.

"Subscriptionization" ?!

As content becomes atomized, pried away from homepages and spread across the Web by Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Reddit, it makes sense for readers to have subscription-based content as their media “base,” just as many of us already subscribe to streaming media services such as Netflix, Spotify, Rdio, Hulu, and Amazon Prime for a steady diet of movies, TV shows, and music. Again thanks to the rise of mobile devices as reading devices, you can expect more publishers to integrate a subscription element into their offerings in the year ahead (and hey! Andrew Sullivan just did it). That’s because, like subscriptions themselves, mobile devices are very personal – they say something about their owners, and wherever they go, so too does content. Thanks to smartphones and tablets, it’s also easier to start, stop, and pay for a subscription than ever before.

Long Form !?!?!?!

Buzzfeed has a new longform editor – who apparently didn’t oversee the site’s disaster of a feature about The Oatmeal – Tumblr is commissioning longform journalism, and a bunch of other newcomers, from The Verge and Polygon to NSFW and PandoDaily, are getting excited about producing the sort of reporting that the likes of the New Yorker and The Atlantic have excelled at for decades. This new crop of digital publishers realize that people are more willing to read longer stories on their tablets and smartphones. They’re only just getting started – Buzzfeed’s longform editor came on only a month ago, Vox Media’s Polygon launched only in October, and Tumblr issued its call for paid freelancers in the same month – so 2013 promises to be a big year for magazine-length stories, even if they’re no longer in the pages of actual magazines.

Finally, a trend I can get behind: Curation.

Spotify founder Daniel Ek told Sarah Lacy at PandoMonthly that the music streaming company’s next challenge will be to help users make sense of the millions of songs now instantly available for free. The same challenge exists for news media and longform stories, which spread at lightning speed thanks to social sharing. In 2012, we already saw the rise of human curators, such as Dave Pell(NextDraft), Jason Kottke, and Bill Bishop (Sinocism), and Pinterest ushered in an era of self-powered curation.

As read-it-later apps such as InstapaperReadability (with which I’m so enamored that I called it the one indispensable app of 2012), and Pocket get faster and better, the mania for curation will only accelerate. In general, I’m picking that “more signal, less noise” will be a big theme of the Web in 2013 – a point reinforced by Gdgt co-founder Ryan Block’s New Year’s Eve Bits Blog post about simplifying our technological footprints.

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