Market Focus: Tough Sell for Reference Books
Online and E-books
To reach readers directly, McFarland participates in Google Book Search. The company permits the full text of its books to be searched online.
Roughly three pages are viewed during each search of a McFarland book, Herman says. Around 1.5 percent of searches result in a click-through on a link to buy a book. Herman adds that she believes Google Book Search to be more effective than online advertising.
McFarland plans to focus more resources on electronic books in the coming year. “I believe that there is a modest, but definite opportunity with e-books,” Herman says.
Springer Science+Business Media already has a strong presence in the
e-book reference market. The Berlin, Germany-based publisher has more than 12 e-references available for sale, and more than 30 new titles are scheduled for release this year.
“E-reference is used six times more frequently than an average monograph,” says Cynthia Cleto, global manager of e-books, e-product management and innovation at Springer in New York. “Even though Springer references are a very strong e-product, we still offer a print version because there continues to be a strong demand for it.”
Cleto says print revenues at Springer are experiencing “consistent growth,” and electronic usage is increasing due to the widespread adoption of the Springer e-Book Collection, which includes all of Springer’s major reference works.
Springer offers an ownership model to libraries, where they have unlimited and simultaneous-user access to the collection. “The market has embraced this model, and as a result, we have experienced good positive growth,” Cleto says.
Strong areas for reference include biomedicine, engineering and human sciences, Cleto says. Recent best-sellers include the “Encyclopedia of Language and Education” and the two-volume handbook “Drug Discovery and Evaluation.” Cleto says future growth areas in reference include materials science, chemical engineering and clinical medicine.