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Future of Ebooks, Book Business: Five Experts Share Viewpoints

Friday, November 21, 2014

Press release from the issuing company

NEW YORK - What's the future of book publishing and ebooks? Five prominent experts from the upcoming Digital Book World Conference + Expo (DBW) weigh-in on key issues: industry growth, subscriptions and innovative business models, copyright policy, and the transformation of the K-12 educational book market. The event, which gathers more than 100 speakers and 1,500 professionals, takes place Jan. 13-15, 2015, New York (@DigiBookWorld - #DBW15). The conference is the largest event worldwide dedicated solely to the business of digital publishing. See conference.digitalbookworld.com (early-bird rates are available). 

Solid Growth for Books - Print & Digital

DBW presenter Jonathan Nowell, president of Nielsen Book, says the overall global book industry is strong. "In mature markets, we are seeing solid growth in digital while print book sales are proving resilient. In emerging markets, print continues to drive growth --- China grew at 10 percent in the first half of this year and Brazil grew at 7.5 percent in Q3. For the foreseeable future, we will operate in a hybrid print and digital world, and we will witness further publisher consolidation in the drive for coverage and efficiency."  

Nowell will present on "The Changing Mix of What Sells in Print: How Ebooks Have Changed the Print Book Marketplace." The informative session looks back over a decade of Nielsen's book sales data, and reviews print and ebook sales in various categories. Nowell's lecture will also reveal what bookstores might look like in the future, as mainstay sales of bestselling authors move increasingly to digital.

"While the global book business is in good shape, it is clear that the shape has changed and will continue to do so," says Nowell.

Ebooks & Innovative Business Models, Subscriptions

Steve Potash, CEO of OverDrive, a leading platform for ebooks, audiobooks and streaming video to libraries and schools, notes, "Ebooks and digital media enable execution of a variety of new business models globally, opening new channels by delivering content in innovative formats. With these advances, publishers that are nimble and creative can now deliver what readers are looking for at the time they are looking."

Potash points to OverDrive's innovative new feature, "Narrated Ebooks," for its popular ebook platform in library and school channels. OverDrive now offers publishers the ability to embed and synch audio within their EPUB ebooks --- using standard features of the EPUB3 specification --- and distribute to these growing channels. Libraries and schools are already quickly adding Narrated Ebooks to their collections, including ebooks with sound effects and narration from notables such as Randy Travis, John Lithgow and Ray Charles. Using the browser-based e-reader OverDrive Read, these titles are also presented with fixed-layout. 

At DBW, OverDrive will be featured in two sessions: "Reading Data: What We Know About How People Read," and "Issues and Opportunities in the K-12 Market."

For Matt Shatz, chief revenue officer at Oyster, a leading streaming service for ebooks, 2014 has been the year of ebook subscriptions. "There's no doubt in my mind that great subscription products will drive more people to read more books in the years ahead," he says.

According to Shatz, Oyster offers readers as many books as they want for just $9.95 a month, and features more than half a million titles with new books arriving every day.

During DBW, Shatz joins a panel on "Subscriptions for Ebooks: How Is It Working Out?" The session examines two leading subscription service providers and two publishers that work with them.

In addition to Shatz, panel participants include: Andrew Weinstein, Scribd; Jonathan Stolper, Nielsen; Doug Stambaugh, Simon & Schuster; Steve Zacharius, Kensington; and Ted Hill, THA Consulting, co-author of the recent BISG research report, Digital Books and the New Subscription Economy. 

Copyright Issues & Publishing's Future

Former Congressman Tom Allen, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers, the lead advocacy organization for the U.S. book and scholarly journal industry, says, "The future of publishing depends on copyright policy, which could be profoundly affected by legislation in the next congress; the health of few industries is so inextricably linked to a particular statute."

In his "Copyright" session at DBW, Allen will moderate a conversation about potential changes in copyright law based on expected hearings in the next Congress (panelists joining Allen will be announced in the near future). The session asks: What are the rights of ebook owners compared to the rights of print book owners? Allen will look at what constitutes fair use in a world where there is no cost of replication.

"The creation of content in any format arises from a healthy ecosystem, in which all of those involved in the creative process have incentives to do their best work," concludes Allen.

The Educational Market & Ebooks

DBW presenter Neil Jaffe, president and chief strategy officer of Booksource, says distribution of content to schools is literally being re-wired with future implications for publishers who sell to the K-12 market.

"Don't believe anyone who tells you that digital reading in the K-12 market is all decided," shares Jaffe. "K-12 educators are lost in the wilderness of ebook publishing with all the business models, devices, bandwidth and much more. Plus, they're still trying to determine the value of ebooks for students and budgets."

Since joining Booksource in 1994, Jaffe has led efforts to focus on the K-12 school classroom library market. He's also involved with the development of his company's digital products and the launch of its ebook platform. Today, Booksource is the primary vendor of trade books to the New York City Department of Education and thousands of other school districts across the United States.

In his panel session, "Issues and opportunities in the K-12 Market," Jaffe will present Booksource's K-12 Digital Reading & Technology Survey and share insights on the needs of educators. Additional participants include: Chris Palma, Google for Education; Erica Lazarro, OverDrive; and Neal Goff, Egremont Associates.

Digital Book World Conference + Expo is produced by F+W, A Content + eCommerce Company in partnership with Publishers Launch Conferences.

Visit conference.digitalbookworld.com or e-mail digitalbookworld@fwmedia.com.


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