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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Comments

Alex Tolley

For a good discussion, read this blog thread on SciFi aouthor Charlie Stross' website:

Dead tree publishers just have a very conservative mind set.

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2007/08/publishing_experiments.html#comments

Nick Bogaty

I read your excellent commentary on the New York Times article on eBooks and would like to respond to a couple of the issues you present. I am Nick Bogaty, Executive Director of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) whose statistics you quoted from the article. To your post:

1. Interoperability - you mention frustration at having to purchase identical books for a series of devices (palm, desktop, blackberry etc.). This indeed has been a significant problem which the IDPF has addressed via an industry standard file format called ".epub" (http://www.idpf.org/specs.htm). For software companies who implement our standards ".epub" files can be read natively or automatically converted by software so customers can read their files on a series of devices and platforms. Already Adobe, Amazon, SONY and others have implemented or announced implementation plans for the standard file format.

2. Selection - you also note that only a fraction of the paper books are available in electronic form. This is also true and largely a result of high production costs publishers incur in converting to x number of formats. With .epub however, publishers will only have to make one conversation and be on all implemented platforms. This will significantly reduce their costs allowing them to release greater numbers of titles to the marketplace.

3. Sales Figures - The $32M in trade eBooks sales (this figure doesn't include textbooks etc.) is, you're right, very small. However, the growth rates we've seen in the industry are very high running from 30% to 40% annually. See http://www.idpf.org/doc_library/industrystats.htm for an indication of the growth of the industry. Contining at this rate, the industry becomes significant quite quickly. And, with a book industry that has seen largely flat growth in print sales this is certainly an area that the publishing industry sees as potentially lucrative and attractive.

I only expect better news and higher sales over the next couple of years.

Thanks,
Nick Bogaty

--
Nick Bogaty
Executive Director
International Digital Publishing Forum(IDPF)

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