Ebook Trends: The Year of Living Digitally
Except for Barnes & Noble and some public libraries, ebook discoverability is not a brick-and-mortar phenomenon.  It is a virtual process, led by Amazon. Some publishers have taken advantage of this by working with Amazon to feature titles on its “hot new releases” list. However, publishers are understandably nervous about this dependency, and are experimenting with other discoverability techniques, including publisher- or author-driven social media. This has achieved limited success so far. Online and even printed reviews, as well as recommendations from friends and family members and downloads of free sample chapters, remain the top influencers of ebook purchases.
The BISG survey asked two separate questions about ebook discovery—one about preferred sources of general ebook information and the other about the specific discovery method for the respondent’s most recently acquired and read ebook. The Amazon.com web site ranked highest as a general information source (47.4%), and was also highest ranked as a specific ebook discovery source (25.2%). Amazon’s emails and newsletters also ranked high (26.1%) as sources of general information, but did not fare as well (9.7%) for immediate discovery. Recommendations from family and friends ranked fairly high in both general (24.4%) and specific (16.1%) rankings. Social networking fared reasonably well as a general information source (15.7%) but not for specific discovery (3.5%). Other resale channels, notably Barnes & Noble and Apple, did fairly well as general information sources (14.7% and 10.7%, respectively). However, they were not considered key discovery sources, at only 7.2% and 3.7%, respectively.
Libraries are the logical partners for helping readers discover new ebooks. However, the current state of publisher-library relations over ebook pricing and availability has hindered this potential. A study by the Library Journal  has documented library users’ chief complaint: not enough ebook titles. Future versions of the study will explore possible ways of breaking the current deadlock—
John Parsons (firstname.lastname@example.org), former Editorial Director of The Seybold Report, is an independent writer, ghostwriter, and editor. He is the co-author of the interactive printed textbook, Introduction to Graphic Communication, on the art, science and business of print, which has been adopted by Ryerson, Arizona State, the University of Houston, and many other schools and vocational training centers. Custom editions of the book are under consideration by major printing companies and franchises for internal training purposes.