Now is the time to invest in ebooks. Why? Because it’s safe to say that ebooks are a permanent fixture in the publishing industry. And with the digital frontier bringing an all-encompassing connection with consumers, the foresight to invest in ebooks is a smart move, because it’s an investment not just in the future of publishing but the future of communication itself.
In a report entitled The Future of Ebooks, published by PwC (Pricewaterhouse Coopers, LLC), there is talk about publishers adapting for the future:
“If publishers accept change, transform their processes, train employees, and offer their content in multiple formats—in digital or printed form, bound or on demand, as a PDF or ePUB—and on all platforms, they will have a good chance of developing a viable digital business model. Publishers that resist change, consider the digitizing process to be merely an additional cost, and attempt to defend their existing content and business models, will face the greatest risks.”
If publishers invest in ebooks now it means a solid foundation for business in the future. Ebook sales have consistently advanced since 2002. And according to AAP, revenue for ebook sales grew 41 percent in 2012 alone, with ebooks accounting for 23 percent of industry sales today. That’s a huge chunk of the market.
As the PwC report states, there is a transitional phase that the book market is undergoing right now. New digital formats and devices are being created, and innovative companies are coming up with new business models that embrace this digital disruption.
Smart businesses recognize the potential and invest in ebooks as a way to engage consumers beyond basic transactional interactions. The ebook itself is a great business model that can engage customers beyond the point of purchase. For example, an online vitamin store has a sale on protein powder. With every purchase, they offer their customers a free ebook on recipes using the protein powder. Not only does this instill a sense of loyalty from the customer, but there is an opportunity to upsell through the ebook itself. Now picture publishers doing the same.
As Philip Ruppel, president of McGraw-Hill Professional, says, ebooks “allow publishers to interact with their customers in new ways.”
Ruppel goes on to give an example of students trying to learn a specific formula. They go to the publisher’s website, find relevant tutorials in the form of ebooks that can be downloaded for $2.99. Ruppel goes even further to mention the thousands of students who might do the same through an “in-book app purchase” and hails it as a new marketing opportunity.
Deciding to invest in ebooks is not only good for building a solid digital business model, but it will also help legacy publishers reduce spending. Reallocating funds to new innovative technologies allows for publishers to focus on their core competency: building a community of readers while selling profitable books.
“Publishing houses will play an even greater role in the [ebook] world,” states Ruppel. “Commodity content is everywhere (and largely free), so high-quality, vetted, edited content—which takes a staff of experts [to produce]—will be worth a premium.”
By being innovative, embracing the change on the publishing horizon, and making the choice to invest in ebooks, publishers will not only cement their much-needed place in this new publishing world, but they’ll have endless marketing opportunities as well. But waiting just prolongs the inevitable.
So, publishers, heed these words: now is definitely the time to invest in ebooks.