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OPLIN 4Cast #249: Ebook publishing getting stronger

Posted in 4cast

In the middle of last week’s excitement about public library books for the Kindle, the Aptara Corporation released their Third Annual eBook Survey of Publishers (40-page pdf). Aptara is in the business of producing digital editions of books for publishers, so the 20 questions in their survey dug deep into the ebook business as the publishers see it. Below we cite several commentators’ remarks on portions of the survey which they found interesting, but the survey contains a wealth of data beyond what’s discussed below. Taken as a whole, the survey responses indicate that ebooks are quickly becoming a very important component of the business of trade books — the adult fiction/nonfiction titles most often seen in libraries.

  • Newest Aptara survey charts changes in e-book market (Publishers Weekly/Jim Milliot)  “According to Aptara, all but 6% of trade publishers are currently developing e-books or plan to in the near future, putting the trade segment ahead of all other areas in its commitment to e-books, as 10% of STM [Scientific, Technical & Medical] publishers, 29% of college publishers, and 15% of K-12 publishers said they have no plans to publish e-books soon. Trade publishers have a good reason to be more committed to e-books than other segments — they generated the highest percentage of sales from the format.”
  • Leap in trade publishers’ e-book production (Bookseller/Philip Jones)  “The survey found trade publishers are also now catching up their peers in terms of revenue, with 20% reporting they now had e-book sales in excess of 10%, beaten only by college and corporate publishers. was listed as the biggest generator of sales by 56% of trade publishers, and by 38% of all publishers, with their own websites the second biggest category.”
  • Two e-book surveys showcase gains, growing pains (Shelf Awareness newsletter, 9/21/2011 issue)  “The survey found that publishers still rely most heavily on Amazon for distribution, but the percentage (18%) is steadily declining due to the proliferation of other platforms and channels, particularly ePub-based. But a rapidly expanding e-book sales and distribution market is making the pie bigger for all concerned.”
  • Aptara releases findings of its third annual digital publishing survey (Good E-Reader/Mercy Pilkington)  “One of the major surprises, though, was that many publishers are still not tapping into the wealth of their back list titles; this could be one of the reasons more and more authors are attempting to regain control of the rights to their older — and often out of print — works in an effort to revitalize interest in the author and in the works by self-publishing them to electronic platforms.”

Library-interest fact:
The survey result which we found interesting: 32% of trade publishers cited customer demand, rather than revenue or other factors, as the main driver for producing ebooks.