Aptara Corp.’s third annual e-book survey of book publishers found a rapid increase in sales and title output, especially among trade houses, but questions still need to be resolved about e-readers, formats, and standards. The survey, conducted in April, drew responses from 1,350 publishers, and also documented Amazon’s dominant position as the major sales channel for trade e-book sales, although more publishers are beginning to develop e-books for a wider number of devices and platforms.
According to Aptara, all but 6% of trade publishers are currently developing e-books or plan to in the near future, putting the trade segment ahead of all other areas in its commitment to e-books, as 10% of STM publishers, 29% of college publishers, and 15% of K-12 publishers said they have no plans to publish e-books soon. Trade publishers have a good reason to be more committed to e-books than other segments—they generated the highest percentage of sales from the format. Twenty percent of trade publishers generated more than 10% of their revenues from e-books, while only 13% said they had no sales from e-books. The highest percentage of trade publishers, 44%, reported generating 1%-3% of sales from e-books.
Amazon accounted for 38% of e-book sales for all publishers and 56% of trade publishers’ sales. Publishers’ own sites accounted for 25% of all sales (only 13% for trade), while Apple’s iBookstore and iTunes had a 2% and 1% share of all sales, respectively. With the “other” and “unsure” categories each accounting for 16% of sales, Aptara points out that many publishers are still working on getting a better understanding of where their e-book sales are generated.
Even as Amazon dominates e-book sales, however, the survey found that ePub has gained traction across all publishing segments in terms of the devices and platforms publishers are targeting e-books for. While 18% of all publishers are making their e-books available for the Kindle, 15% are targeting dedicated ePub devices and another 15% are publishing for Apple devices using ePub. Nineteen percent of all publishers still target personal computers for their e-books, a figure that is especially high in the STM and K-12 markets, but low in the trade segment.
The introduction of the iPad and other tablet devices that include color, audio, and video has led to an increase in the percentage of publishers that have released enhanced e-books and apps, but the percentage is still relatively low. Twenty-one percent of trade publishers reported releasing enhanced e-books, but the same percentage said they have no plans to develop one at the present time; 35% said they are still investigating the possibility. The ratio was similar for apps with 23% of trade houses reporting that they are already producing apps, 37% saying they are investigating, and 28% saying they have no current plans to release apps.
The survey can be found here: http://www.aptaracorp.com/home/survey/.