Cover Story: Publishers' Outlook 2012: The Industry's Next Bold Move
Director • University of Chicago Press (UCP)
The UCP, founded in 1891, is notable not only for its long history of publishing books and academic journals, but also for its distribution arm that provides print and digital services to other presses. Garrett Kiely, spoke with Book Business from his office on a "beautiful, sunny, cold day" in Chicago.
Brian Howard: Of UCP's three main divisions—books, journals and distribution—where do you expect the most revenue growth in the coming year?
Garrett Kiely: Well, from the standpoint of new business, we found that the books division has had the most growth because of the explosion of e-book sales. We've really seen that to be an incremental sale—at the moment it still seems to be adding to our sales rather than replacing sales. Our e-book sales grew about 300 percent last year from a very small number to what would have been considered a more substantial number. We're seeing about 100 percent growth this year; there's not that much growth in any other sector we have.
On the distribution side, we're diversifying by offering options for digital distribution, and [on] a scale that many smaller presses can't do on their own. We've added about 12 presses in the last year, and about 30 or so over the last couple of years.
Howard: What is your current print-to-digital mix, and how do you see that changing?
Kiely: On the book side, likely about 10 percent of our sales will be digital, and that's a little deceiving because not all of the books on our backlist are available in electronic form. Where we do have a print and electronic edition, the sales tend to run more like 25 to 30 percent electronic. … On the distribution side, we have encouraged many of our distribution clients to continue evolving their business toward digital. It's hard to say what the exact split is there because we have 90 publishers that we distribute.