The Corner Office: Pressing Forward Into Digital Publishing
Mudditt: The Press' strategy to date has been channel-based, recognizing the somewhat different requirements of the consumer channel, libraries and the higher-education market. Having said that, at this point, the biggest single channel and source of revenue on the books side is the consumer channel—this is where we've seen the explosion in interest in e-books.
In the consumer channel, the Press' e-book strategy has been to make our e-books available as widely and through as many partners as possible. We create PDF and EPUB files for all of our newly published books and make them available through an extensive network of channel partners. We'd like anyone to be able to buy a UC Press e-book in the format and e-bookstore of their choice. Having said all that, Amazon is our biggest partner, and I don't see any signs of that trend changing dramatically in the near future given their scale and market presence. But, of course, this sector of the market is rapidly evolving, and new entrants, particularly Apple with the iPad, could shift the current pattern significantly.
● How have your partnerships with e-booksellers such as Kobo impacted your e-book revenue?
Mudditt: Our e-book sales have tended to be driven by our frontlist, no doubt due to the wider availability and greater visibility of these titles. This year, our partnerships with third-party e-booksellers have significantly impacted our revenue. "The Autobiography of Mark Twain" has been a runaway success for the Press in both print and e-book formats, and has sold large numbers through all of the major e-book channels. For example, Kindle sales are almost neck and neck with print sales through Amazon. This is an unusually high-volume title for the Press, but it reflects the importance of e-books in consumer publishing.
● In what area(s) will UC Press be investing most heavily this year?