Publishers’ Love Affair with Apps Is Over

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Forrester vice president and research analyst James McQuivey. Photo credit: Babette Ross for Digital Book World

By Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGsaid

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Publishers have become disillusioned with apps as a revenue growth opportunity, according to research from Digital Book World and Forrester Research presented this morning at Digital Book World.

According to a survey conducted among publishing professionals, representing 74% of all U.S. trade publishing revenues, 15% of publishers think that apps represent a significant revenue opportunity, down from 34% a year ago.

Still, 75% of publishers produce apps, each producing an average of 26.5. And publishers that do produce apps plan on producing 25.4 next year. But half of all publishers think that apps cost too much to produce, about the same as last year.

As for readers, they are probably thinking the same, say publishers. About 19% of publishers think that apps have the potential to change the reading experience, down from 46% last year.

Write to Jeremy Greenfield

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4 thoughts on “Publishers’ Love Affair with Apps Is Over

  1. OK, this might be a dumb question, but how do you define an ‘app’ in this context? How does it differentiate from an enhanced ebook?

    • Not a dumb question at all, Kaye.

      While an app and an enhanced e-book might have similar functionality at this point, the difference is pretty clear.

      Apps are stand-alone, native software applications that can be downloaded from app stores or the Web. They live on device desktops with their own stand-alone icons.

      Enhanced e-books are downloaded from bookstores and live within an e-reader environment.

      The differences may seem small, but to publishers who have to decide where to invest their technology development dollars, they are big.

      Does this help?

  2. Hi Jem, interesting research findings – what makes producing apps so expensive for publishers? Perhaps they are going about it the wrong way. I’m puzzled, after all, if it’s really so expensive, why are there so many new apps hit the market every day? Books are more expensive: that’s reality is inherent in the higher price points.
    Perhaps the best approach to successful apps is being really clear about where the app will provide real value – i.e what one thing it will DO brilliantly and from that goal repurpose existing assets.
    For me the beauty of app publishing is reusing the same engine and nourishing it with evergreen content for international markets – I think perhaps the reason apps are expensive for publishers is that they have to offset the legacy costs of running a lot of other logistics – non-publishers don’t have that overhead

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