Monday, June 09, 2008

BPN 1123 The rise of the eBook publisher

A bachelor graduate of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam produced a Bachelor Thesis on the influences of digital publishing on the traditional book publishing sector in The Netherlands. It is an interesting thesis, written in the English language by Nicole Neven. I had a chance of reading and digesting the 51 pages.

In this thesis Nicole Neven tested the theory about electronic publishing in The Netherlands. She starts from the position that there is a progressive development of digital publishing, that traditional publishers will take care of the electronic publishing themselves and that new parties will enter also. But in the two interviews she conducted, the interviewees do not agree with this position and argue that the development actually occurs in three phases.

1. In this phase, there are only print book publishers that produce large piles of printed books. In The Netherlands they store them at the Central Book House, a central warehouse, or in private warehouses before they will be distributed to the retail dealers selling the book. As an author it is very hard to get your book published because of the excess supply of writers. Publishing companies take a risk in choosing what books to publish.

2. In the next phase, new publishers arrive, producing only electronic books. Here the development of the eReader and other devices that read the eBook is important. The market for the eBook has to grow and the supply of eBooks has to increase parallel to this growth. This is the phase the book market in the Netherlands is in right now. An example of such an e-publisher is Pinion of the NDC/VBK Holding. In this phase the e-publisher has no contact with the authors themselves, and produces little or no new books as an eBook, only already existing books in printed form.

3. In this phase, the traditional publishers will take over the function and activities of the electronic publishers and become mixed publishers.. The publishers will start to produce new titles directly as eBooks. Besides the eBooks, they will supply Printing on Demand. Here books will only be printed when there is a consumer that wants to buy it, or has already paid for it. According to the expert the book store in the form that we know, will disappear. Apart from the numerous websites where eBooks can be purchased, there will appear eBook stores, where people can buy eBooks that are directly transmitted to their eReader. In these stores the possibility will still exist to print the books in the form of printing on demand. People will mainly read books from their eReader or cell phone. The paper book will never disappear, but it will certainly have a different function than it has now.

The figures in the research of Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) display an rise in the sale of eBooks. The electronic book spending will increase from €1 million in 2004 to €42 in 2011. The present figures for 2008 suggest according to PWC that the electronic book market has already a 3,24 per cent market share of the total book market in 2011. These figures are doubted in publishing circles. The market for eBooks might reach the 10 per cent market share of the total market in twenty to thirty years. (I personally doubt the PWC figures, as hey are mere deductions from PWC's global media study, IMHO. JB)

Nicole Neven offers traditional print publishers consolation, but saying that eBooks will not take over printed books in the next couple of years, maybe never. However she argues that the book publishers of professional information will have a less bright future ahead, unless they move over to eBooks.

The author also offers a suggestion to the publishers. Get reliable information about eBooks and collect sales figures of eBooks and position them over against the figures of the printed books. In this way publishers can decide whether or not they want to anticipate on this development.

Blog Posting Number: 1123

Tags: electronic publishing, eReader, eBook

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