To Infinity and Beyond
Publishers, distributors and e-retailers expect the advent and growth of smart phones and multifunctional personal digital assistants (PDAs) to stimulate the growth of the young e-book market.
Yet, no matter how young or how small the market is, publishers have made a commitment to e-books and are anticipating the market will take off.
The size of the e-book market in terms of revenue is based on the number of available titles, publishers' revenues or the revenues generated by
e-retailers. For example, the New York-based International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), formerly the Open eBook Forum, reported in its "eBook Statistics" for the fourth quarter of 2004, "eBook publishers reported significant gains in growth in the fourth quarter of 2004 with a 47-percent increase in units sold and an 81-percent increase in eBook revenues over the same quarter of 2003." The report takes into account information provided by 23 member publishers, retailing and technology companies to measure and quantify the e-book industry.
Nick Bogaty, executive director of IDPF, says the domestic e-book market is about $15 million and is growing at 50 percent per year. Kathryn Blough, executive director of the American Publishers Association (APA), concurs e-books are a growing market.
Jim Milliot, a senior editor with Publisher's Weekly, who covers the e-book market, also says the domestic e-book market is approximately $15 million and predicts strong growth for a market that has been "an over-hyped industry for a long time. It's never lived up to its promise, but it is solidly entrenched in the publishing market as a niche."
Steve Potash, president of IDPF and chief executive officer of Cleveland-based e-book distributor Overdrive Inc., says there are two to three times the number of publishers that do give numbers that aren't participating, and therefore estimates the retail and consumer market domestically is $25 million to $30 million annually and growing. Those that don't report include higher education, CD-ROM, reference, specialty segments and religious publishers. As a result, Potash estimates the retail and consumer