Last week, we published some old and relatively recent statistics about the publishing industry. Here come more up to date statistics published by Aptara, resulting from a survey of over 1,300 book publishers from the Trade, Education, Professional, and Corporate markets, and spanning a two year period from 2009 to 2011.
As the publishing industry has to evolve rapidly to adapt to the numerous changes brought forth by digital publishing, updated statistics are a boon worth sharing. Aptara is mainly concerned by non-fiction publication, rather than fiction books, yet, both fiction and non-fiction books belong to the publishing industry.
The main findings of the survey are the following:
- The trade publishing market segment has considerably increased its ebook output. The trade ebook production rate publishers rose from 50% to 76% during the last two years.
- Trade and non-trade publishers are aggressively producing ebooks, despite the current low revenues derived from digital publishing. The majority of publisher producing digital book (57%) derive between 0% and 3% of their revenue from ebook sales. A still confidential 18% of these publishers generates more than 10% of their revenues from ebooks.
- Digital book distribution is evolving, costing Amazon growing chunks of its dominant market share. While still relying heavily on Amazon for distribution, publishers are targeting a growing number of devices and formats, such as ebooks for EPUB-based platforms and devices, such as the iPad. Though this is eroding the dominance of Amazon’s Kindle it reflects the proliferation of other platforms and channels, particularly EPUB-based, rather than a decline in actual sales for Amazon. In other words, the market is growing, an Amazon dwindling dominance is due to the expansion of the market rather than diminishing sales by Amazon.
- Amazon still generates the highest number of sales for Trade publishers, despite the comparatively small percentage of Trade content distributed through Amazon.Despite Trade publishers using all of the main ebook online retailers, Amazon is the one producing sales—and, presumably, revenue—by a disproportionate margin (43%). Interestingly though, outside of the trade, in the STM, College, K-12, and Corporate publishers report that the greatest percentage of their sales come from their own eCommerce sites. In conversations with publishers, we’ve repeatedly noticed the trade looking towards establishing better direct to consumer relationships. It may turn out that trade publishers will want to watch other types of publishers for cues on how to execute an eCommerce strategy.
- Two out of three eBook publishers have not converted the majority of their backlist titles to eBooks. These legacy title hold a potential higher profit margins than frontlist titles, and publishers still have a lot of room to monetize this untapped revenue potential. This might be good news for publishers but indicates that self-published authors will have to compete with an even larger catalog promoted by traditional publishers with marketing means beyond the reach of an individual.
- Sales of ebooks from Amazon remain considerably higher than those from EPUB-based platforms and devices. This seems to go contrary to other numbers indicating that EPUB eclipses the Amazon Kindle as the most widely targeted ebook platform. However, Amazon’s aggressive support for Kindle titles on a number of other platforms (PCs, iPads, and Android apps), is an effective incentive to draw publishers to publish to Kindle format.
- The market of Enhanced ebooks is till in early infancy but publishers are watching it intently. The main area in which enhanced ebooks are being developed is the education segment. 35% of all K-12 publishers are already producing enhanced ebooks, compared to only 21% in the trade. Targeting “digital native” readership to develop enhanced ebook market is easier as the target readership has less prejudices to overcome and is more open to bew technologies. Whether this will in term lead to enhance ebooks for adult born before the digital age is still an open question.