05 Dec 12 Ebooks_The Game Changer

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The Book Industry Study Group’s research has shown a massive acceleration of e-books adoption by consumers in the final quarter of 2010, and the start of 2011, when e-books took off in earnest. The exhibit titled “% Book Buyers Who Purchased An E-book (US)” illustrates that for the remainder of 2011, the growth of e-book buyers slowed down. 

Digitization will increase as readers increasingly turn to mobile devices to consume their reading content. The panelists on the Global 50 CEO panel at the Frankfurt Book Fair held in October 2012 agreed that eBooks are well on their way to change the way the publishing industry operates.

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As the world enters the ditigal age, transitioning from a centuries old tradition of print, most publishers continue to turn to third-party content technology partners for support. The fourth annual eBook survey from Aptara found that more than half (54%) of e-book publishers rely on a third-party for the majority of e-book content conversion and production. The breakdown of drivers for outsourcing e-book production by segment is given in the exhibit titled “What is the main driver for using an external technology partner?”. The primary reason, a majority (55%) of publishers continue to outsource work is the lack of internal capabilities and resources, followed by scalability (17%) as external partners can more easily scale to handle larger volumes.

According to latest industry estimates, while total book sales revenues fell by 2.5% in 2011, increase in sales of e-books resulted in overall unit sales of books, including print and e-books, increasing by 3.4%. The sales penetration of e-books in the trade segment has been striking. E-books comprised 15% of all sales in the trade segment in 2011, compared to 6% in 2010. This helped total sales in the trade segment to reach USD 13.97 bn, an increase of 0.5% from the previous year.

The bread and butter of the Outsourced Publishing Services (OPS) industry has historically been the Scientific/Technical/Medical (STM) segment. But OPS providers should gear up to address trade publishers looking to outsource e-book production. More than half of publishers’ content is “digital waste”, as 65% of e-book publishers have converted less than half of their legacy titles, or their backlist, into e-books, making the outsourcing potential for e-book production in the trade segment higher. When targeting trade publishers, OPS providers need to have a system in place to address their pain points: capability and scalability. More than half of trade publishers (57%) cite lack of internal capabilities as their driver for outsourcing e-book production, though scalability is another significant factor (16%).

Leading OPS providers, such as QBend (a subsidiary of S4Carlisle) and Newgen have already launched proprietary tools to convert easily to e-book formats. SNAP (Search, Navigate, Assemble, Publish) from QBend lets publishers create custom e-books using their drag and drop interface; SILK from Newgen allows publishers to convert PDF files into ePUBs without requiring proficiency in HTML.

At the Frankfurt Book Fair 2012, Datamatics launched their own product for an easy PDF to e-book conversion experience with the “i-DPUB”. Even smaller providers, such as SwiftProsys and EasyPress unveiled their online platform to enable e-book conversion.

Other OPS providers need to emulate these leaders to be competitive, and ensure that they don’t lose out on this potentially lucrative revenue stream.

ValueNotes Research
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