The Latest Trends in Publishing
- Consumers are expecting e-books to be fairly priced.
- eBook sales are gaining momentum.
- Publishers are getting interested in experimenting online, to serve their niche markets.
- Web 2.0 marketing tools are being extensively used by publishers to get discovered.
- EPUB strengthening as standard format for mobile and handheld devices.
With the increasing popularity of eBooks, publishers are faced with the challenge of setting eBooks list prices, while protecting future revenues and preventing the cannibalization of print. This protective instinct leads to pricing that floats at or around comparable print product pricing, which from a consumer point of view, appears unacceptable as there is no print ‘product’ and no physical warehousing or distribution required. However, consumers do realize that the publisher still has to pay for the author advance, the editing, the copyediting, the proofreading, the cover and interior design, and for all other activities involved in the extensive publishing process. So, they do not believe that books are without value or that books must be provided for free. Consumers expect books to be fairly priced. The challenge is now up to publishers to find the best means to provide content that fits into consumers’ lives and budgets.
eBook sales statistics for March 2009, released from the Association of American Publishers (AAP) (who collects these statistics in conjunction with the IDPF) illustrate that e-books are becoming increasingly popular among the consumers.
Trade eBook sales were $10,000,000 for March, a 110.4 % increase over March 2008 ($ 4,700,000). Calendar Year to date sales are up + 131%
Q1 2009 wholesale trade sales were $25,800,000
A couple of observations indicating the growth we are seeing.
- March 2009 wholesale trade sales were $10,000,000 where as all of Q1 2008 total was $10,100,000
- Q4 2008 set the previous bar for trade wholesale for the 12 – 15 trade publishers at $16,800,000, which has been soundly surpassed by Q1 09.
- Q1 2009 trade wholesale for the 12-15 publishers is $25,800,000.
There's a lot of upheaval in the print publishing world as the web continues to erode old business models faster than new ones are built. Many publishers like Harper Studio has broken traditional publishing models and experimented with new ones.
O'Reilly Media has been at the forefront in experimenting with different models of electronic delivery. Started in 2001 as a web based subscription model, it is now the #2 channel behind Amazon for sales of O'Reilly titles. Offering a NetFlix-like model of
lending books, it remains DRM-free, allowing subscribers to make as many copies as they like. O’Reilly Media has also experimented with various tools like SafariU that allows customized “mash-up” publishing of books for University professors.
As more and more consumers rely upon the Internet for their content requirements, publishers are extensively using Web 2.0 tools to promote their titles.
As a result, new sites and services are emerging. Case in point: Thomas Nelson’s most recent marketing endeavor Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers, a site which encourages bloggers to receive free copies of selected Thomas Nelson’s products. In exchange, the blogger must agree to read the book and post a 200-word review on his blog and on any retail website.
Publishers are also using viral marketing tools like widgets and book previews to reach global marketplaces and drive their sales. Amazon, who pioneered offering samples on a large scale in 2003, reported about 9% increase of print sales across 120,000 titles in 5 days after the Search Inside capability was available on their site.
Harper Collins has had a similar experience with sales. Harper Collins launched their Browse Inside program in 2006, becoming one of the first publishers to do so and reported print sales increase of 30% and 250% for specific titles using their Browse Inside functionality
Social networking is rapidly becoming the most preferred Web 2.0 marketing tool. Sites like FaceBook, MySpace and Digg are now among the most visited in the world and opportunities are emerging for smart and creative publishers to meet their readers where they are.
EPUB format is fast becoming the preferred industry standard world-wide with more and more publishers embracing this format.
Project Gutenberg now has most of their titles available in the industry standard EPUB eBook format and free from any DRM (Digital Restrictions Management). Other big names in the industry like Sony, Google, Penguin, Harper Collins and Adobe, to name a few, have also adopted EPUB format.