Digital Directions: Want to Grow Your Ebook Revenue?
About 17 years ago or so, digital media folk were asking an important question: Would consumers buy online? Would consumers take the leap and actually enter their credit card information on a seller's website? More specific questions also arose about the growth rate of online commerce. In the course and fullness of time, we got our answers. ComScore and the Commerce Department now put annual online retail spending at somewhere around $165 billion.
Similar questions continue to surround digital publishing revenue, specifically about the role and significance of e–book revenue.
Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2011—driven in part by the launch of the Kindle Fire and Nook Color readers—the significance of e–book revenue became a bit clearer. Many publishers from a variety of industry segments have been caught by surprise by the strength of e–book sales.
Recent research data summarize publishers' results:
● A Pew study concludes that 1 in 5 adults in the United States have read an e–book in the last 12 months.
● In 2011, e–book revenue came in at $1.7 billion, a number that may jump considerably in 2012 with the new ereaders in the market.
● Forester predicts that 1 in 4 Americans will own an ereader in by 2016.
Yes, Virginia, people will pay for e–books—in large numbers to boot. As gratifying as these recent projections are, some significant financial and non-financial questions remain:
● Does direct cannibalization occur?
● Will e–book sales represent replacement revenue of lost print sales or will e–book sales become an opportunity to develop incremental revenue streams?
● Can e-books become a platform for attracting sales from additional customer segments, who may not already be immersive readers? The Pew study indicated that e–book buyers are overwhelmingly consumers of books in all forms. In other words, e–book consumers are immersive readers who are already a receptive market.