Publishers Were Ready for Pew E-Book Study

This businessman seems ready for the starting gun.

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

The latest study from the Pew Internet and American Life project about e-reading and e-books found that those who read e-books are more avid readers, buy more books and read more often.

These results made a splash in the book world, resulting in an explosion of media coverage and blog posts and nearly a Twitter meltdown.

Publishers, however, met the news with a shrug.

“We’ve actually known this for a while,” said Dominique Raccah, publisher and CEO of Naperville, IL-based Sourcebooks.

“The Pew study was a powerful confirmation of what we are seeing already at Wiley,” said David Goehring, director of digital book publishing for professional and trade at Hoboken, N.J.-based John Wiley & Sons.

While a useful “heat check” of the e-book market, the publishers that spoke with Digital Book World didn’t indicate that they would be doing anything differently as a result of the study. The changes at publishing houses have already happened.

“We’ve been oriented this way for quite a while,” said Raccah. “It has changed how we market. It’s having huge effects on where we’re orienting the company.”

“Most publishers have already been spending time and money on discoverability issues, conversion issues, communication issues and volume increases,” said David Nussbaum, chairman and CEO of New York-based F+W Media (disclosure: F+W Media owns and operates Digital Book World).

“Wiley has dedicated enormous resources to ensuring that our customers can find the information they want in whatever format they want,” said Goehring. “Wiley’s approach to e-books will benefit from the trends outlined in the Pew study.”

Organizations like R.R. Bowker, the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) and the AAP are constantly taking the temperature of the e-book marketplace. BISG, along with partner organizations, puts out BookStats, which tracks unit and dollar sales of books, Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading, Student and Faculty Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education (two separate studies), just to name a few of the reports in the space.

While the Pew study had some refreshing confirmations, book publishers were not blindsided by the wave of changes that Pew measured over the past few years of research.

“Publishers have been leading the transition in books for years,” said Andi Sporkin, vice president of communications for the Association of American Publishers, a Washington, D.C. based trade association for book publishers.

On Wednesday, before the Pew study was released to the public, the AAP organized a conference call between some of its largest members – with big-six publishing houses among them – and the Pew study’s authors, explaining the findings.

“The AAP is very appreciative that Lee [Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project] and his colleagues shared the study with us in advance, said Sporkin. “It was a good opportunity to get a sense of the project and some of the highlights of the results.”

Write to Jeremy Greenfield

Business race concept via Shutterstock

One thought on “Publishers Were Ready for Pew E-Book Study

  1. Evelyn Trimborn

    No surprises here at all for anyone publishing ebooks for the past 15 years. But thank you again, Pew, for your valuable research. It feels good to know we are all on the right track.



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