September 21, 2011
Market for Enhanced eBooks Remains Largely Untapped But...
According to Aptara’s Uncovering eBooks’ Real Impact: Third Annual eBook Survey of Publishers, (free registration required) "[b]ook publishers are far more focused on getting titles into current eBook formats than on creating new types of enhanced and media-rich content—another reminder of the market’s untapped potential" except in the K-12 education market where 35% of publishers are already producing enhanced eBooks.
From Aptara's survey findings:
Publishers’ awareness of EPUB 3 and pursuit of enhanced eBooks is limited. EPUB 3 is the next edition of the EPUB eBook format standard and includes significant support for enhancements. There is a general lack of awareness of it and its benefits across all publisher types. While there has been a sizeable increase in enhanced eBook production in the past year, 60% of publishers are either still investigating or have no plans to produce enhanced eBooks.
A couple of additional points from the survey:
The question of “digital or print?” has been answered. The answer is both: “digital and print.” The vast majority of book publishers (85%), across all market segments, are producing print and eBook versions of their titles. For the time being, print publishing’s legacy cost structure and business and production models are living alongside newer eBook-inspired practices.
Most eBook production still follows outdated print production models at the expense of significant operational efficiencies. Though publishers are pursuing multiple-output production (print and eBooks), they are slow to transition from a traditional print-based production to more flexible and scalable digital workflows that produce output for mobile devices, PCs, and print–all from a single content
Publishers’ own eCommerce sites generate the greatest percentage of sales for all publishing market segments other than Trade. Despite a decrease in publishers’ reliance on their own eCommerce sites for distribution, these sites are producing the most sales for publishers by a significant margin (up to 18%). This reflects many publishers’ reluctance to share revenues with channel partners such as Apple and Amazon.
One out of five eBook publishers generates more than 10% of their revenues from eBooks. This is a strong statistic for an early-stage market. Considering the increasing rate of consumer sales projections,it highlights that the eBook market still has plenty of room for growth.
But... While Amazon currently generates significantly more eBook sales than EPUB-based platforms and devices, the survey finds
EPUB eclipses the Amazon Kindle as the most widely targeted eBook platform. This discrepancy reflects Amazon’s aggressive support for Kindle titles on a number of other platforms (PCs, iPads and Android apps), giving publishers more reasons to publish to its format. It also indicates that publishers would welcome, and may be preparing for, more EPUB-based distribution channels.
Going down the current EPUB production path may eventually lead to the development of enhanced eBooks after the EPUB 3 standard is released next Spring. If so, eBooks will evolve from being replications of pBook content to a more interactive and content richer form of publication, particularly in the Professional–Scientific/Technical/Medical (STM) sector. Professional grade enhanced Law eBooks are coming. [JH]
Do a search on Google for enhanced ebooks and you will find that there’s a divergence of opinion on them. The main critique falls into three areas.
The first opinion states that enhanced ebooks with embedded video, sound and graphics, takes away from the enjoyment of the book because the enhanced ebook intrudes on the reader’s ability to imagine the story in his mind. The very popular Harry Potter books loved by children are used as a prime example.
This opinion states that any attempt to add greater dimensions to the Harry Potter story telling like the movies takes away from the imagination of the children. But that’s a false argument.
Sure, when a child reads a Harry Potter book, he or she congers up a vivid picture in their mind of the characters and environment in the book. Those critics hold that the movies made from those books somehow take away from that imagination process.
But if that were true, how do you account form the hundreds of millions of dollars each book in the series has generated as a movie? And most of the audience for these movies are the children that read the Harry Potter book. The children enjoyed both versions of the story telling and it did little to take way their imagination of the story.
Of course, the professional handling of the book material by the movie studio did the story justice. As in anything creative – it has bee done well.
The second critique of enhanced ebooks comes from those that say the imbedded multimedia and extended material interrupts the reading experience. They claim, rightfully so, that the embedded video, audio and links to the Internet within the text interrupts the reading of the book. But Trapdoor Books has recognized this problem and placed its multimedia and outside links in what is called the ‘marginalia’ that sits along the outside column of the text. This marginalia can be totally turned off and the reader can read just text.
The third critique has nothing to do with the reading experience. It has to do with economics — the cost of producing enhanced ebooks. This is a valid critique. It does cost more to produce an enhanced book. Thus the retail cost of the ebook is higher than the traditional ebook.
But Trapdoor Books has found a solution to that. Their enhanced books are FREE. They are advertising supported and that revenue pays for the production of the ebook.
So, Trapdoor Books has found the way to meet the objections of the enhanced book skeptics.
Posted by: Frank Fiore | Jan 1, 2012 11:00:46 AM