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Aptara’s survey takes a second look at eBooks

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An Aptara survey of more than 600 publishers across the Trade, Professional, and Education markets reveals the latest impacts of eBooks on the publishing industry.  The survey, conducted this summer, reveals that 64% of publishers are now offering titles in eBook format.  Though, the majority are still struggling to maximize profits from the fast-growing eBook market as a result of inefficient print production processes that require transformation in order to support scalable, affordable digital output.  The second in a year, this survey is one of a series being conducted by Aptara to document the evolution of book publishing in the face of the burgeoning eReader market and consumers’ changing reading behaviors.

The most significant findings from this survey include:

  • A widespread inability to calculate return on investment (ROI) from eBooks − 62%, and of those able to calculate ROI, only 14% are recognizing a stronger ROI from eBooks than print.  These stats confirm that most publishers are not employing scalable digital workflows, but rather retrofitting print production process and forgoing significant cost savings.
  • The main eBook production challenge facing publishers is still eReader/content compatibility issues.  Even with the near universal EPUB eBook format standard, today’s fragmented eReader market makes quality eBook production a moving target, with expert, manual manipulation required to retain consistent formatting across device-types.
  • Almost a quarter of publishers producing eBooks are employing XML, indicating a positive shift to scalable, digital workflows in support of efficient eBook production across all eReaders.
  • Only 7% of publishers are implementing enhancements to their eBooks, suggesting that most publishers are not aware of the EPUB standard’s inherent support for content enhancement, including audio and video.

“With a desire to meet the growing expectations of digitally-savvy readers, publishers are delving into eBook production. Yet the road to scalable, quality eBook production is neither quick nor smooth, as confirmed by our second survey,” said Dev Ganesan, Aptara’s President and CEO.

 “eBook market revenues get larger every day, but most publishers just aren’t prepared to profit from it. From accounting for software and device-specific nuances of available eBook readers, to designing and implementing custom digital workflows with support for XML-early production and multi-channel output, the need for intelligent content technology solutions has never been more critical.”

The recent dramatic success of multi-purpose mobile devices like the Apple iPad and the consistent growth of the single-function eReader device market, led by the Amazon Kindle, have resulted in more publishers producing eBooks than reported in our first survey, and significantly broader support for multiple devices. The same percentages of publishers (36%) are distributing their titles for the iPad, the iPhone and the Kindle.

Other key survey findings:

  • 41% of all publishers surveyed support the EPUB format; 25% support the proprietary Kindle format.
  • 61% of Trade/Consumer publishers support the EPUB standard; 18% more than any other publisher type.
  • 64% of all publishers are offering titles in eBook format; up 11% from the first survey.

To download the full results and analysis of Aptara’s second eBook survey, click here.


Written by Larry S. Bonura

8 March 2011 at 01:01

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