Change was in the air at the March 9 annual meeting of the Association of American Publishers. In his final act as AAP chair, Will Ethridge, CEO of Pearson North America Education, started the meeting by calling 2010 a "tipping point" for the industry, citing the surge in digital sales, new distribution channels, and greater federal government involvement in funding and legislating education. The association, Ethridge said, will continue to champion free expression and to protect copyright of both print and digital content, while also "beefing up" its communication efforts. The AAP recently hired Andi Sporkin as v-p, communication, and AAP president Tom Allen said Sporkin will lead the association's drive to better communicate publishing's value to the country, to the government, and other parties. Ethridge said that it is important that people understand that the AAP's goal is to create a 21st-century publishing and education industry and that publishers remain committed to delivering information to readers by whatever means necessary.
The new publishing century will be dominated by digital. Ron Dunn, president and CEO of Cengage Learning, who moderated a conversation with analysts Casey Green of the Campus Computing Project and Ned May, v-p and lead analyst for Outsell, observed, "Digital is the most used word in the industry today." May helped supply some figures to the digital landscape, noting that e-book sales have been fueled by the explosive growth of devices. Although there have been a few casualties among reading devices, many that support reading have done well, with a rapid adoption of devices ranging from BlackBerrys and smartphones to Kindles.
May said that the debate over what devices will win is unnecessary since there will be "many winners." Already, there are a growing number of consumers who own multiple devices and that trend will continue and intensify, he said. Consumers who own mobile devices spend 25% of their waking hours using them, with e-reader owners spending just under two hours a day using the device, according to a study May conducted. And consumers are using their devices for a host of functions, led by communicating with others. In addition, there is a fair amount of device-sharing, particularly among iPad owners, with May's research showing that 42% of iPad owners share their device, most likely parents sharing with their children.
While consumers and publishers have increased their participation rates in using mobile devices, marketers have been slower to use them. But while marketers are starting to do more advertising on mobile devices, they are using them just as much to reach consumers directly.
May also said there are already signs of "app fatigue." While a survey found that consumers had tried an average of nearly 31 apps, the number of apps used daily was five.
At the annual meeting, Hachette Book Group USA CEO David Young took over as chair, with Cengage's Dunn elected vice chair. Macmillan CEO John Sargent continues as treasurer. New board members are Random House chairman Markus Dohle and William Oldsey, executive v-p of McGraw-Hill Education.