Riding the Second Wave of E-Book Publishing: A Q&A with Springer Science President of eProduct Management and Innovation Olaf Ernst
Extra: How has the introduction of the Amazon Kindle late last year impacted e-book business for Springer?
Ernst: Springer’s content is not focused on consumers or leisurely reading, but more toward scientific research and development. We see the Amazon Kindle as an additional mechanism for class use, which will definitely help to develop the e-book market. I expect it will take some more time before it is used as a research tool.
Extra: How do you see e-book consumption among North American readers differing from those in overseas markets?
Ernst: There is no significant difference in e-book usage across countries. But what we can see is that the Asian market is taking the lead slightly in consumption of e-books. Usage numbers indicate that readers in Asia are more open to this new technology than readers in the rest of the world.
Extra: What has been the biggest difference in marketing e-book titles versus print titles?
Ernst: … We publish about 5,000 new books a year, so it’s not possible to put a marketing push behind each book. Thanks to the integrated electronic platform SpringerLink, e-books [and] journal articles are visible and easily accessible. Additionally, electronic initiatives such as Google Book Search [and] Amazon’s “Search Inside the Book” [feature] make every book, even older ones, easy to find. Books that were formerly out of stock or out of print can be found electronically and purchased. The electronic availability offers publishers a new pull marketing tool.
Extra: How much training and/or hiring did Springer invest in to keep up with these changes in technological distribution?
Ernst: Springer made a big investment in building up the new e-book technologies, which of course is an ongoing initiative. In general, the new technologies require a joint effort on the part of the publisher as well as the bookseller. We continuously train our own employees, as well as our sales partners in the book trade, libraries and agencies, to familiarize them with our new technologies.