Larry Bonura's Blog

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eBook Readers and Standards…Where to Now?

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On 18 Nov, I joined more than 600 other publishing peers for an Aptara webinar on “eBook Readers and Standards…Where to Now?” The presentation looked at the rapidly unfolding eBook market, and how publishers are struggling to adapt as competitive and consumer pressures demand that their titles be compatible with the multitude of new eBook applications and eReaders coming to market. For those working on the development of a successful eBook production strategy, this presentation gave a clear position on where the market is today and will be tomorrow.

The presenters were Sarah Rotman Epps, Forrester Research’s eBook Market Analyst, and Michael Smith, Director of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), which manages the EPUB standard. Here are some highlights:

From Sarah Rotman Epps on a Forrester Research survey completed in the third quarter 2009:

  • Q2 2008, 37% had never heard of an electronic book device; in Q3 2009, that number dropped to 17%
  • US eReader outlook:
    • Sell-through of 3 million units in 2009
      • Amazon 60%
      • Sony 35%
      • Others less than 5%
    • 40% of 2009 sales (1.2M) in Q4, with 900,000 in November/December holiday season
    • A conservative estimate for 2010 would be for sales to increase from 6M (2009) to 10M units
  • What’s coming in 2010:
    • First eReaders not using E Ink screens
    • New screen sizes, color, and non-E Ink video
    • New category-bending devices: dual screens, web tablets, smartphones better optimized for reading
    • More competition: B&N, others
    • Global growth
    • 2007 is to eReaders what 2001 was to MP3 players
  • US consumers:
    • 3% now use their desktop computer to reader eBooks
    • 2% use their laptop computer
    • 1% use an eReader device, such as a Kindle or Sony Reader
    • 1% use a netbook
    • 1% use a mobile phone or PDA
  • Of consumers who say they are interested in eBooks, the value they saw included:
    • Take up less space: 54%
    • Can access multiple books on the go: 47%
    • Can adjust text size: 37%
    • Better for the environment than print books: 37%
    • Can read in dark/low light: 37%
    • Cheaper than print books: 35%
    • Easy to search: 26%
    • Easy to look up a word in a dictionary: 22%
  • When asked how interested they would be in reading different forms of media on an eBook reader, consumers who were very interested replied:
    • Books: 29%
    • Magazines: 15%
    • Newspapers: 14%
    • Textbooks: 11%
    • Wikipedia: 9%
    • Comics: 7%
    • Blogs: 4%
  • What should book publishers take away from the survey:
    • Stay “device agnostic”
    • The features that matter when it comes to content:
      • Ability to reflow content and look good on any device
      • Ability to sync up content across multiple devices
      • Ability to share content with a friend
  • What will eBooks mean for a publisher’s bottom line?
    • Expect small revenues from any one channel, but expect growth over time across devices
    • Could be incremental, but much will be replacement
      • Plan for a smaller business
      • But potentially still a profitable one as you cut back print operations over time
    • New opportunities
      • Subscriptions
      • Incremental content sales
      • Advertising

From Michael Smith’s presentation:

  • Industry predictions:
    • Continued growth of eBooks and eReaders as they become more mainstream
    • Younger generations (digital natives) begin to read electronically for pleasure
    • Hockey stick sales growth: 2010-2011
  • eBook wholesale numbers:
    • 2009: $109,900,000 (Q1-Q3)
    • 2008: $53,500,000
    • 2007: $31,800,000
    • 2006: $20,000,000
  • eBook formats: What’s right for your content?
    • Final form content vs. digital reflowable text
      • PDF vs. EPUB
    • How will content be consumed?
      • Web
      • Mobile
      • E Ink Display
  • Current standards landscape
    • EPUB is an open and non-proprietary standard
      • Key to healthy eBook ecosystem
      • PDF is an ISO Standard
      • DAISY, ONIX, ISBN, XML, XHTML, CSS all important
    • Others promoting non-EPUB formats
  • What’s pivotal to pervasive EPUB adoption?
    • Publisher adoption — Critical mass of content
    • Consumer adoption — EPUB prefect for small screen apps
    • Continuous evolution and improvements — EPUB Maintenance Working Group + EPUB 3.0
  • Future of EPUB — Not a matter of “if,” but how fast it will become the dominant format/preferred standard
    • Continued worldwide adoption of EPUB with strong push throughout Europe, China and Japan
    • Move from primarily trade titles into Science/Technology/Math and then Higher-Ed
    • Continued growth in Library markets
    • Adoption of EPUB format to be a factor in rise of accessible titles available for Print Disabled community
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2 Responses

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  1. Thanks for Sharing this Beautiful information…

    Regards,
    E-books Tunnel

    ghazi1

    5 September 2011 at 09:40

  2. Aw, this was an incredibly good post. In concept I’d like to put in writing such as this moreover – spending time and real work to make a really good write-up

    Connor

    15 September 2011 at 13:36


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