E-books' Impact on ROI
Also gone are the days when publishers feared e-book sales would steal sales from hardcovers and paperbacks. Most have come to realize that those who buy e-books wouldn't ordinarily buy the printed version.
"Publishers have always feared e-book sales would cannibalize print sales, but I've seen little evidence of this," Durando says. "It's just another format that suits a customer's need better, so in most respects e-book sales supplement print sales." He adds, while there are few e-book-only products, it is the future, as there will be more opportunity to develop and market "e-only" products as production costs drop and product creation becomes more flexible.
"Ten years ago there was [fear among publishers] that digital versions of titles would detract from print sales," Potash says. Today, however, he adds, "Everyone knows that e-books add to the ROI. There's no dilution of their print brands, and by publishing e-books, they introduce their authors and titles to a new audience."
Bigger Plans Ahead
While the OeBF's best-seller list tracks the progress of e-books in the trade genre, it doesn't keep track of sales in special-interest markets such as educational, reference and professional publishing.
E-book publishing reportedly serves those markets well, as e-books tend to sell briskly in 'niche' genres.
"Sales of e-books to libraries is a growing market, and the same can be said of the education market," says Bogaty. "Our best-seller list and the numbers the industry has released so far are strictly from the consumer retailer. We haven't collected any data, but it's pretty clear [it's a growing market]."
"I have seen reference materials in academic library channels do well, particularly some of the larger texts, like medical or engineering books," says Durando. "That's where e-books fill a specific need. If you're doing research and you access an e-book through an interface like NetLibrary, you're going to be in and out of that e-book in 10 or 15 minutes."