E-book sales accounted for more than 10% of revenue at 36% of publishers that responded to Aptara’s fourth annual survey of publishers’ e-book operations. According to the survey, conducted in April and cosponsored by PW, 40% of trade houses had e-book sales that accounted for more than 10% of sales, while only 6% of trade publishers said they get no revenue from e-books. The increase in sales was accompanied by an increase in output as 64% of trade houses are now making at least half of their titles available as e-books. Overall, 57% of all publishers are making more than half of their titles available as e-books compared to only 31% two years ago.
The growth in e-book sales is good news for Amazon as publishers continued to cite that e-tailer as the most important outlet for e-book sales followed by the Apple iBookstore with Barnes & Noble’s e-bookstore in third place. The report also noted that despite the attention the agency pricing model has received, only 30% of reporting publishers used agency pricing (albeit, until the Justice Department lawsuit, the six largest trade houses used it), while 64% sold e-books through the wholesale model. Overall, only 16% of all publishers said they used the agency model to sell e-books.
This year’s survey asked some more detailed questions about production methods. According to the report, 41% of trade houses now use a digital-first production method rather than a print-based process, a figure that put trade publishers ahead of the other publishing sectors in moving to a digital-first workflow where a single input lets them produce digital, print and mobile formats. Adobe InDesign was the favorite tool for both creating e-book content and for producing e-books. As a creation tool it edged out XML, while on the production side it had a clearer lead, with “other” in second place and “unsure” in third. All publishers have, however, moved relatively quickly to use fixed layouts for e-books as more publish children’s books, coffee table books, graphic novels and other illustrated digital texts. Fifty--eight percent of publishers (and 57% of trade houses) said they produce fixed layout e-books.
In some other new questions, only 17% of trade houses said they translate e-books. And despite the issues that have kept a number of the major trade houses form making their e-books available to libraries, 61% of trade publishers said they sell their e-books to libraries. Only professional publishers, at a 73% rate, had a higher participation level with libraries among book categories.
Few publishers see e-books entirely replacing print; 90% of trade houses said e-books will be sold along with print with only 10% expecting digital to replace print books. Only in the college market did a meaningful percentage of publishers believe digital could replace print with 20% predicting that will happen at some point.
The full report can be downloaded here.