Content Crossroads & Distribution Junction
According to a survey reported in the August 2006 issue of
Book Business, 58 percent of book publishing industry executives who responded said they feel that book search tools have a positive impact on the industry. Twenty-seven percent were unsure, 9 percent said they have a negative impact, and 7 percent said they have no impact.
As more books are published every year, it becomes harder for readers to find what they are looking for. “This doesn’t mean they’ll be reading these books online, but they’ll be finding them there,” Turvey says. “We don’t believe that the printed book will ever be totally replaced by electronic digital publications.”
Schroeder believes that if people know what they want, digital publishing works. “I think distribution will change a lot, but when and how fast is a tough guess,” she says. “Our professional and scholarly publishers are into electronic and digital distribution big time. K-12 publishers are not into it. Many trade publishers are getting ready or are already able to do digital distribution.”
Schroeder remains cautious because even though the higher-education publishers produce almost all of their books electronically, and they are significantly cheaper than regular textbooks and being sold to a younger tech-savvy audience, they have not caught on.
“If the younger generation wants a hard-copy book, the digital revolution is probably going to happen when print-on-demand is available everywhere and is inexpensive,” she says.
According AAP research, e-books saw an increase in sales of 34.2 percent in October 2006 and a yearly increase of 26.2 percent as of mid-December.
“The economics of digital distribution are so much better you’d think publishers would be rushing toward it,” Gaynor says. “Instead, there’s the fear that books will become obsolete. It’s all part of valuing the content, then delivering it in whatever medium the customer wants.”