Five Digital Publishing Questions for Joseph Esposito

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

The Digital Book World Conference + Expo, kicking off on January 13, 2015 is packed with an incredible amount of information and ideas about the digital publishing landscape at a time of remarkable transformations. To help attendees make the most out of those three days, Digital Book World is sitting down with conference speakers to help lay the groundwork for conversations that will take place at the conference and continue for many weeks and months afterward.

This is the tenth installment in our “Digital Publishing Questions” blog series, featuring Joseph Esposito, President of Processed Media.

What do you think has been the most newsworthy event for authors in the past year around publishing and digital change?

Let me be a contrarian. In 2014 we began to see the reemergence of institutional markets as important channels for all books. This is taking multiple forms. We now have a large proportion of trade ebooks available for libraries; we have subscription services; and we now have streaming audio. None of this was true three years ago. This represents perhaps 5% of the trade book market, the equivalent of warehouse stores like CostCo.

What are you anticipating as the big change we will see in 2015?

Some rationalization of the ebook subscription market. There are lots of good experiments going on here, but some of these models will not work. We may see more services coming online, but we also are likely to see one or more get sidelined or pivot.​

What is the most important thing publishers need to accomplish in 2015?

Open up new distribution channels. This means different kinds of direct selling (which requires the agency model to ensure common pricing). We are also likely to see the launch of new online bookstores, selling both print and digital products.

Will Amazon’s ebook market share grow in 2015, or will this be the year that Apple, Kobo, Google and Nook (or someone else) push them back?

Good question. I don’t think Google cares, and Kobo doesn’t mean much in the American market. Apple could increase its market share 50% by making the iBookstore available for Android. But will they? I don’t think a new entrant is likely to move the needle in a single year, though Facebook or Walmart could control 10% of the total market in a matter of weeks. My best guess: not much market-share shifting in 2015.​

Related: How Many New Customers Will iBooks Get from iOS 8?

Are there any companies (start-up or otherwise) now flying below the radar that you think may break out in 2015?

I have a bias here, which is that the breakout companies will be in academic publishing. I have my eye on Symplectic and ScienceScape (full disclosure: I serve on ScienceScape’s board), both of which tap into huge metadata streams to provide overviews of academic publishing. I expect we will also be hearing more from Aerbook in the trade.​

Joseph Esposito is the President of Processed Media. He’ll be moderating a panel at Digital Book World 2015 called “The New World of Higher Ed: Restructuring College Publishing for a Changing Market,” exploring how recent changes in textbook publishers’ management and organizational structure might inform other parts of the industry.

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