Publishing Executive Survey Shows Industry Settling into Digital

In What's the Buzz by Hannah Johnson

By Hannah Johnson

Apple has sold 120 million tablets worldwide, Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey told the audience at this year’s Digital Book World Conference in New York City. That is equal in population, he said, to the 11th largest country in the world.

Digital Book World Conference 2013

This statistic set the stage for McQuivey’s presentation on the DBW Publishing Executive Survey, which asked 53 publishing executives about ebooks, devices, digital publishing and predictions for 2013. A mere 23% of respondents believe that ereaders are the ideal reading device, and 45% said that ereaders will soon be irrelevant. Tablets were the preferred reading device for 60% of surveyed executives.

While may not be a surprise that tablets are more appealing, both for content producers and readers, McQuivey warned that this outlook should be tempered with the fact that many avid book readers and buyers still prefer the more immersive reading experience of ereaders. Publishers, while continuing to develop content for tablets, should not ignore ereaders.

Publishers certainly are focused on tablets, as well as smartphones. 85% of those surveyed said their company produced at least one app in 2012, and the average number of apps was 17. Though just 21% said there was any revenue potential in apps, the fact that so many publishers are investing in app development shows that there is marketing value there.

The investment in digital publishing doesn’t appear to be slowing down, and publishers are preparing for a decline in print sales over the coming year (32%) and an increase in digital revenue (21%). In fact, 23% of executives said that digital sales have already overtaken print sales at their companies.

McQuivey said that compared to the survey responses last year, these numbers show a stabilization in the industry. Predictions about print decline and ebook sales growth have leveled off, which shows that the industry is settling into the digital changes.

About the Author

Hannah Johnson


Hannah Johnson is the publisher of international book industry magazine Publishing Perspectives, which provides daily information and news about book markets around the world. In addition to building partnerships with international cultural and trade organizations, she works with the Frankfurt Book Fair to organize and support a number of its overseas initiatives. Hannah has also worked as the managing editor for an online media company, The Hooch Life, focused on craft distillers and cocktail experts. Prior to that, she worked as a project manager for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s New York office, managing various business and marketing activities.