Over the last few years we’ve seen e-textbooks, as a share of eBooks.com’s revenue, grow 61%. And this without us paying particular attention to textbooks as a category.
eBooks.com’s strategic focus is on improving our customers’ experience and implementing customer-focussed communication strategies, but not specifically aimed at educators.
Nevertheless, educators around the globe are finding us in growing numbers.
This development has not gone unnoticed. At Frankfurt Book Fair in October, one educational publisher put it bluntly: “What on earth are you doing to drive all these sales?” Until she asked, we hadn’t really noticed what was going on.
I cleared my throat and explained with sweeping hand gestures that it was the result of our carefully targeted multi-channel, community focused SMM, SEM, SEO and email outreach campaigns. Most likely.
On reflection though, I think it’s a result of the simple fact that the time for e-textbooks is here.
Textbook publishing has always been a challenge.
My father once confessed to me that, when he was studying engineering in the 1940s, he availed himself of pirated versions of his course textbooks.
It took a generation for our family to recover from the shame that his admission brought on us. But there’s a message here as to why higher ed publishers have approached ebook distribution with caution. Piracy has always been a massive problem for textbook publishers, and the advent of digital distribution only raised the risks.
Flagship, cornerstone textbooks are different from consumer or general scholarly titles. To publish a trusted, solid tome called “Introducing Biology”, with engaging, full colour illustrations and pages set out like a glossy magazine involves significant investment. It can cost millions to produce, drawing on the work of teams of experts. For a higher ed publisher, testing the waters by putting a digital version out there means risking everything.
Things move on though, and higher ed publishers are increasingly embracing digital distribution, through channels like eBooks.com, VitalSource, Kortext and Bibliotech. With DRM in place, and evolving business models, the growth in e-Textbook sales is set to continue.
If you’re interested in exploring opportunities in e-textbook sales, just ping me.