One Out of Five eBook Publishers Generates More Than 10% of Revenues from eBook Sales, According to Aptara’s Third Annual eBook Survey of Publishers

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Survey Confirms Vast eBook Market Opportunity; Production Optimization and Further Market Maturity Needed to Reach Full Potential

To understand who is producing eBooks, how, why...and which sales channels are the most lucrative—is an advantage to any publisher looking to capitalize on this market's incredible potential, said David Blansfield, President of F+W Media.

The results of Aptara’s third annual eBook survey of publishers, released today, provide unprecedented insight into eBooks’ real impact on book publishers’ production and business models. Representing more than 1,300 book publishers from the Trade, Education, Professional, and Corporate markets, the report documents eBook trends, challenges, and strategies that have emerged since Aptara’s first survey in 2009.

“Aptara’s eBook survey series is unique in its collection of market intelligence direct from publishers,” said David Blansfield, President of F+W Media, parent company of Digital Book World. “To understand who is producing eBooks, how, why, to what extent—and which platforms and sales channels are the most targeted versus the most lucrative—is an advantage to any publisher looking to capitalize on this market’s incredible potential.”

Here are some significant findings from the three Aptara surveys conducted over two years:

  •     One out of five eBook publishers generate more than 10% of their revenues from eBooks. This is a strong statistic for an early-stage market. Considering the increasing rate of consumer sales projections, it confirms that the eBook market still has plenty of room for growth.
  •     Trade, more than any other publishing market segment, has aggressively increased its eBook pursuits. Trade publishers’ rate of eBook production rose from 50% to 76% in two years.
  •     Two out of three eBook publishers have not converted the majority of their backlist (legacy) titles to eBooks. With higher profit margins than frontlist titles, these digital assets hold significant untapped revenue potential.
  •     Amazon still dominates distribution . . . but by a steadily decreasing margin. Publishers still rely most heavily on Amazon for distribution, but do so less and less. This trend is more attributed to the proliferation of other platforms and channels, particularly EPUB-based, than a decline in actual sales for Amazon. The result is a larger eBook sales and distribution market.
  •     Amazon generates the most eBook sales for Trade publishers, even though a comparatively small percentage of Trade content is distributed through Amazon. Despite Trade publishers using all of the main eBook online retailers, Amazon is the one producing sales—and, presumably, revenue—by a disproportionate margin (43%).
  •     Publishers’ own eCommerce sites generate the greatest percentage of sales for all publishing market segments other than Trade. Despite a decrease in publishers’ reliance on their own eCommerce sites for distribution, these sites are producing the most sales for publishers by a significant margin (up to 18%).
  •     Most eBook production still follows outdated print production models at the expense of improved operational efficiencies. Publishers are slow to transition from traditional print-based production to more flexible digital workflows that produce output for mobile devices, PCs, and print–all from a single content source.

“In the midst of a turbulent market, the most valuable lessons often come from taking a step back,” said Dev Ganesan, Aptara’s President and CEO. “The data collected from exploring publishers’ evolution from print to digital during the rise of eBooks and mobile devices puts into perspective just how quickly publishers have mobilized to respond to market demand and highlights the opportunities for taking production, and revenues, to the next level.”

To view the full results and analysis of Aptara's Third Annual eBook Survey, 2009 - 2011, visit:

To be included in Aptara’s fourth survey, scheduled for the Spring of 2012, contact us at

About Aptara
Aptara provides digital publishing solutions that deliver significant gains in cost, quality and time-to-market for eBook publishers. Having converted tens of millions of pages to eBooks, Aptara offers comprehensive solutions across all content sources and delivery media, including the Apple iPad and iPhone, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble NOOK, and Sony Reader devices. In addition to eBook production, Aptara’s expertise includes app design and development, content technology solutions, custom content development, and editorial and design services. Founded in 1988, Aptara is a U.S.-based company with more than 4,700 professionals worldwide serving leaders in the Trade and Consumer, Professional, Education, and Corporate publishing markets.


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Megan Prosser
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