American science fiction icon, Robert Heinlein, noted, “Being right too soon is socially unacceptable.” He was, of course, talking about insights and impacts of imagined innovations in science and technology, usually set on another planet or dimension in a futuristic setting. But when it comes to the business of 21st century brand management on this planet, being right as soon as possible is not only acceptable, but of great competitive advantage.

And while science-fiction writers may have an edge on other authors regarding views of the future, marketers that have real loyalty and engagement metrics in place will always have a handle on the trends that are going to show up in their offices long before their competition.

Mid-last year we wrote in this blog about a trend our engagement survey had identified regarding the fact that the worth of a book, once measured by what the reader could carry away from it, was going to be measured in how the books are actually carried – the dawn of e-readers. And the fact that while – at the time – many regarded the devices as interesting, early-adopter gadgets, they were going to soon become the accepted, mainstream “book” delivery system.

In support of that finding, today’s USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list shows that e-book versions of the top six books outsold the print versions last week. In fact, of the top 50 best-selling books, 19 had higher e-book sales than print sales.

For those of you who do not feel that e-books are a sustainable trend, we gently remind you of the Sumerians and their clay tablets, the Egyptians and their papyrus, and the Greeks and their parchment. Oh, and that when it comes to predictive research you can never be right too soon!