With an e-publishing focus on libraries and the academic market, STM publisher John Wiley & Sons is both optimistic about e-books and realistic about the future of e-book sales.

In an interview about Wiley's e-book program, Kelly Franklin, Wiley's v-p of business development for professional and trade, acknowledged, "We operated at a loss last year, but this year we're hoping to break even." Franklin said that despite the uncertainty over business models, Wiley can report some success in the library, professional, academic and STM markets. "Our business processes are still being adjusted for electronic media," " Franklin said, "and there aren't huge profits in the short term. But in the long term, we see it as another way to serve our authors and their readers."

Wiley offers all of its frontlist professional and trade books—about 700 titles this year—in e-book form, said Franklin. E-titles, she said, are priced the same as the lowest price point available in print. All Wiley e-titles are offered in Adobe Acrobat format because of Adobe's ability to support the graphs and tables required for technical and professional publishing. Franklin pointed to sales strength in the academic and library market, but said, "the outlook for the consumer market is slow right now." Wiley offers titles to the trade book market in MS Reader and Palm Reader formats. And Franklin even reported a couple of Palm format bestsellers: Piloting Palm, a bestseller at the Palm retail site and the CliffsNotes series.

Wiley has announced a new agreement with Innodata, a digital services provider, to handle conversions, in addition to using Lightning Source. Wiley also uses OverDrive's Content Reserve service as part of a multi-channel sales strategy. Franklin said most of its e-book revenues come through netLibrary and the library market. She also noted significant sales through professional online retailers TechBooks.com and eBookstore.com, an Australian online retailer, in addition to sales through Amazon.com, BN.com and Borders.com.

While Adobe is the dominant format for STM publishing, Franklin said that Wiley still expects handheld devices to ultimately drive consumer e-book sales. Nevertheless, despite the strength of nonconsumer e-publishing, publishing STM e-books is costly. "Maintaining the accuracy of tables and graphs is expensive," said Franklin, "and in many cases, we don't always have the rights for digital editions of technical works."

Franklin said that in an effort to control costs, Wiley tries to streamline the editorial and business process of publishing a e-book by simply replicating the print versions. "Our e-books are mostly facsimiles of the print edition," she said. "Obviously, you could do a lot of cool things with e-books, but those things cost money."