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Ebook revenue up but sales down, according to BookNet Canada survey on digital publishing

BookNet Canada has released its fourth annual report on the state of digital publishing in Canada, surveying 50 small, mid-sized, and large Canadian publishers about their practices for ebook publishing. Here are some highlights:

  • Despite the notion that consumer interest in ebooks is dwindling, more than 61 per cent of Canadian publishers surveyed saw increased revenue from digital books in 2016. For one in four of those publishers, the increase was at least 25 per cent over 2015.
  • Digital sales – both ebooks and audiobooks – accounted for 17 per cent of purchases, compared with 19 per cent last year.
  • Only 23 per cent of publishers have most of their titles (three quarters or more) available in ebook form, with most – 26 per cent – with only one quarter to one half of their titles available digitally. Thirty-four per cent – have more than three-quarters of their backlist converted to ebook format, whereas most had less than one quarter converted in 2013 and 2015.
  • Most publishers – 61 per cent, up from 52 per cent in 2015 – outsource ebook production to a third-party company, and continue to prefer Apple iPad as a distribution platform (78 per cent, in a “select all that apply” survey). Kindle Fire was the second most preferred program for distribution (57 per cent). Efforts to target Kobo as a platform declined to 16 per cent from the previous year (22 per cent).
  • A greater proportion of companies surveyed had digital-only publishing programs than in 2013 or 2015 – 100 per cent of large publishers, but still only 32 per cent of small publishers and 21 per cent of mid-size publishers.
  • 37 per cent of those surveyed now produce audiobooks, in comparison to 16 per cent the previous year.
  • Half of participants use Adobe InDesign for ebook design, while half outsource. Programs like Sigil, XML, Microsoft Word, Calibre, P-Shift, and QuarkXPress are used minimally (less than 15 per cent each).