The BooksellerBritain’s The Bookseller has published some results from its Digital Census 2015, in the run-up to its FutureBook 2015 conference in December. Highlights include a conspicuous shift towards mobile devices, and expected growth in e-book sales – contradicting all the headlines of a retreat in the e-book market.

One key conclusion, foregrounded by The Bookseller, is that e-book readers are increasingly turning to their mobiles as preferred e-reading platforms, with almost 45 percent of respondents stating that they now regularly read on their smartphone. However, Amazon still dominates in software, if not hardware, with just over 77 percent of respondents purchasing e-books regularly from Amazon. Apple’s iBook store, by comparison, pulls in just under 12 percent.

On the publishing side, just over 40 percent of responding publishers now report that over 20 percent of their sales come from e-books and other digital formats. A further 21 percent expect more than half of their revenues to come from e-books within five years. That said, the industry appears deeply divided on pricing for e-books. Just over 65 percent of publishing respondents maintain that e-books should be sold at a slight or significant discount to printed editions, but just over 50 percent also feel that e-books are being sold too cheaply, The Bookseller reports.

Then there’s two of the most controversial issues in modern publishing. For agency pricing, The Bookseller reports: “Given three options, just under half (45.1%) think this is a smart move that will keep value in the market; more than a third (38.2%) think it is something publishers may regret but had no choice over; and the rest (16.7%) consider it a disaster.” And almost 43 percent of respondents feel that publishers should remove DRM from their e-books, while 30 percent do not.

Such deep divisions of opinion invite speculation as to who thinks what. But if The Bookseller‘s census is reasonably accurate, it appears that major constituencies within publishing do oppose DRM and the agency model. Given that the same survey found that just under 50 percent of respondents feel that the publishing industry is unprepared for the next stage of digital evolution, such divided opinions might be predictable. But they certainly undercut any idea of a united front on DRM and agency pricing.

The whole Digital Census piece is worth reading for more highlights on other areas, and accessible here.


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