This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

Publishers Which of these business models do you think will

become most viable in the future for

digital book content? Subscription (37%)

E-book and print book bundling (27%)

Republication of out of print titles via POD or digital (14%)

Rental (12%)

Content licensing (9%)


Publishers What percentage of your sales are in digital format?

32% 27% 28% 25% 21% 13% 16%


Publishers What percentage of your sales do you forecast will be in digital format by the end of 2020?


0 to 10%

11 to 20% 21 to 50% 50% or more

0 to 10%

11 to 20% 21 to 50% 50% or more

Half (50.9%) of those respond- ing have sold fewer than 1,000 e-books so far, and only one in eight (12.4%) has sold more than 50,000. For many, the realities of self-publishing are hitting home.

Publishing remains very much divided on matters digital


race to the bottom, and 52.5% of respondents worry that e-books are now being sold too cheaply. “Low e-book prices communi- cate to customers that the value of a book is in how it is made, not what it contains,” says one publisher respondent. Second is e-book royalties;

Amid so much digital change for publishers and authors, the census reveals opinions are split on many issues. Te first is pricing. Around

two-thirds of all respondents think e-books should sell for either a slight discount (35.8%) or a significant discount (29.4%) from their print equivalents— but nearly a quarter think they should cost around the same as either the r.r.p. (7.7%) or the “street” price (15.5%) of the print edition. But discounting risks a

roughly half (48.6%) of respond- ents think e-book royalty rates should be the same as print, but many think they should be higher (34.7%) or lower (13.9%); the rest (2.8%) favour some other mechanism. Tird is the agency model. Given three options, just under half (45.1%) think this is a smart move that will keep value in the market; more than a third (38.2%) think it is something publishers may regret but had no choice over; and the rest (16.7%) consider it a disaster. Finally, Digital Rights Manage- ment. Two in five (42.7%)


. . . And the major- ity believe publishers remain unprepared for what is coming

Te Digital Census also uncov- ers alarm at the ever-rising dominance of web-based giants, including Amazon at the expense of bricks-and-mortar retailers, and Google at the expense of libraries and publishers. Some are anxious that publishers are still not doing enough to adapt to change, by under-investing in innovation and training in particular. Almost half (49.7%) think the sector is not prepared for the next stage of the digital revolution; the rest think it is

respondents think publishers should remove DRM from their e-books, but 30% think they should not. Te rest (27.2%) are unsure.

(14.6%) or don’t know (35.7%). “We are so far behind the curve when it comes to technology,” admits one publisher. But there are many reasons to be optimistic too. For one thing, two-thirds (66.9%) of respond- ents think rising digital sales will grow the overall books market rather than shrink it. And despite concerns that consumers now have so many more distractions, nearly half (48.4%) say they read more since they started buying e-books, with very few (7.7%) reading less. On balance, within this poll of the industry at least, the future looks bright. More than half (51.4%) are optimistic about the prospects of reading and learning for coming generations, and only a small fraction (5.7%) pessimistic, with the rest some- where in between. Whether on paper or in pixels, the appetite to read is not diminishing. ×

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