Greg Goralski(*}tm New Media Prof, Interactive Professor, digital desing, mobile, tablet, ipad, iphone
It has been an exciting stretch this last few months with the latest round of the Humber New Ventures Fund and the growing emphasis on entrepreneurship at Humber. The most exciting has been the energy that the students have been putting into the process. Sitting at the Humber Hawknest startup weekend, I am impressed at how far a student driven event can go.
Congratulations to the Hawknest team and the Humber Student Federation on a great event!
2010 has been an important year for digital publishing; if 2009 is the year that the rapid growth in ebooks started, then 2010 is the year the growth put some real meat on the bones of the industry. Although the growth in 2009 was impressive at 177%, it just moved it from 1% of the trade sales to 3%. With 2010, the ebook market share of trade sales in the US is at 9% (Source:AAP) with a growth rate of 171%.
It is difficult to predict the future but that never stopped anyone: Forester expects digital publishing to be just under $1B in 2010 and $2.8B by 2015, Bain estimated 15-25% of publishing going digital by 2015. There are some indications that the industry still has a good deal of room to grow, possibly beyond these expectations. The first is that only 7 percent of people currently read books digitally, indicating that the industry is still in the early adopter stage and can expect a jump over the next few years as it enters the early majority and then late majority. Beyond that, those that do read digitally, read it a lot.
With 43% of their reading happening in the form of eBooks. This hints that, once someone is used to reading digitally, it becomes an important part of how they read. This can also be interpreted as the growth of digital books being lead by a small group that has specific reasons for reading digitally, and that this may not translate to the broad majority.
The final reason that I see significant room for growth is the fact that most digital books are really bad. The vast majority of digital books are essentially pdf’s of the print book that do not take into account the digital nature of the book at all. Only 7% of publishers are using ‘enhancements’ to their ebooks (according to a survey by Aptera). They do not use any of the interactivity, video, social media, crowd sourcing, data mining (essentially everything that we have learned from 20 years of web design (happy bday webby)). As bain points out, this is where the value add.
Digital publishing will never out do the joy of reading a classic novel on a beach in print form. But in areas such as academic publishing (where searching and referencing are key), educational publishing (where animation, live updates and comments can increase the speed and depth of learning) and lifestyle (where social networking could add depth ot the experience), digital publishing can have a major impact of the power of the book. With all of the shiny new eBook readers under the Christmas trees and the cheaper tablet coming down the pipe, the prospects for 2011 in digital publishing are exciting.