Gone are the days when PDF ebooks ruled large. With over 500,000 Amazon Kindle ebook readers sold in the USA alone, 400,000 Sony Reader PRS-700’s in the US and UK and over 30 million Apple iPhones across 80 countries it is no wonder that the demand for ebooks is currently surging. One publisher reports selling twice as many ebooks as conventional print books.
The key learnings here for digital publishers are:
- That the ebook market is taking off on a second generation growth
- Ebook readers are driving new format requirements
On itunes App Store alone, ebooks represent the 4th highest download after games, entertainment and utilities.
Digital Publishers must now become more focused on the different reader experiences through these new media viewing devices. The PDF no longer meets the requirements of small screens where functional requirements include:
- Compact single file
- Simple layouts
- Reader friendly format – mobi, AZW, ePub, PDF
- Reflowable text*
- Scalable images
*expected in 2009 PDF versions
The good news is that, in spite of prior studies indicating that customers were only willing to pay on average $15 for an ebook version of a $30 print book, consumers have not demonstrated the degree of predicted resistance to paying the same price for ebooks as the print versions. Many recognise the additional value of convenience that electronic formats provide. Sales of ebooks were up 100% December 2008 over the previous year.
The bad news is that the areas of Digital Rights Management [DRM] remains unresolved, but if we are to take lessons from the music industry we need to be realistic as to the ability to enforce such standards. DRM generally constrains a book format to a particular reader device, likely to look some publishers into complete production and distribution constraints. This is neither good for the business or the consumer.
However, the ebook market is still in its infancy, and this is the best time to gain market share.