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Many Publishers Generating 10+ Percent of Their Revenues from eBook Sales

September 20, 2011
FALLS CHURCH, VA—Sept. 20, 2011—The results of Aptara’s third annual eBook survey of publishers provide unprecedented insight into eBooks’ real impact on book publishers’ production and business models. Representing more than 1,300 book publishers from the trade, education, professional and corporate markets, the report documents eBook trends, challenges, and strategies that have emerged since Aptara’s first survey in 2009.

“Aptara’s eBook survey series is unique in its collection of market intelligence direct from publishers,” said David Blansfield, president of F+W Media, parent company of Digital Book World. “To understand who is producing eBooks, how, why, to what extent—and which platforms and sales channels are the most targeted versus the most lucrative—is an advantage to any publisher looking to capitalize on this market’s incredible potential.”

Here are some significant findings from the three Aptara surveys conducted over two years:

• One out of five eBook publishers generate more than 10 percent of their revenues from eBooks. This is a strong statistic for an early-stage market. Considering the increasing rate of consumer sales projections, it confirms that the eBook market still has plenty of room for growth.

• Trade, more than any other publishing market segment, has aggressively increased its eBook pursuits. Trade publishers’ rate of eBook production rose from 50% to 76% in two years.

• Two out of three eBook publishers have not converted the majority of their backlist (legacy) titles to eBooks. With higher profit margins than frontlist titles, these digital assets hold significant untapped revenue potential.

• Amazon still dominates distribution...but by a steadily decreasing margin. Publishers still rely most heavily on Amazon for distribution, but do so less and less. This trend is more attributed to the proliferation of other platforms and channels, particularly EPUB-based, than a decline in actual sales for Amazon. The result is a larger eBook sales and distribution market.

• Amazon generates the most eBook sales for Trade publishers, even though a comparatively small percentage of Trade content is 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%).

• Publishers’ own eCommerce sites generate the greatest percentage of sales for all publishing market segments other than Trade. Despite a decrease in publishers’ reliance on their own eCommerce sites for distribution, these sites are producing the most sales for publishers by a significant margin (up to 18%).
 

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