Riding the Second Wave of E-Book Publishing: A Q&A with Springer Science President of eProduct Management and Innovation Olaf Ernst
As an early adopter of e-book technology, Springer Science+Business Media has distinguished itself as a digital leader in the science, technical and medical (STM) market and the book publishing industry as a whole. As more and more publishers are now adopting digital distribution strategies, the Germany-based Springer Science—which offers the largest STM e-book and journal collection—continues to move forward and expand the possibilities of e-commerce.
Olaf Ernst, Springer’s president of eProduct management and innovation, spoke with Book Business Extra about Springer’s experiences in the e-book market, and what he refers to as the “second e-book wave.”
Book Business Extra: E-books have been talked about as “the next big thing” for quite a while now. What do you think it will take for this medium to really take off?
Olaf Ernst: The time for e-books is now. E-books really have taken off, as evidenced by high penetration rates and usage statistics that prove [that] e-books currently play an essential role in the scientific book market. For Springer, e-books already account for a substantial portion of book sales.
Extra: What approach has Springer taken with digital rights management (DRM)?
Ernst: From the very beginning, Springer decided to take an extremely liberal approach to DRM with its e-books. That’s why Springer can be considered a pioneer among e-book publishers. Once a university purchases an e-book from Springer, multiple students and researchers can simultaneously access the e-book. This unlimited, simultaneous access differs from some publishers who have adopted a “one user per e-book” policy, similar to checking out a physical book.
What we can observe now is that the market in general is going in this direction. … For instance, Random House Audio [recently] announced the opening up of its DRM policy. We, at Springer, believe that this liberal approach to the e-book business model will lead to increased use of e-books. And we have not had any major issues with fraud.