Are publishers preparing for the death of e-ink? Look at these numbers: Peter Nowak


BookNet Canada has published an interesting compendium of statistics on ebooks in The State of Digital Publishing in Canada 2013. The headline numbers from the organization, which tracks the business of books, include the percentage of ebooks sold compared to printed works and how much publishers have digitized their back catalogs.

As it stands, the vast majority – or 90 per cent – of publishers are indeed publishing ebooks, while about 19 per cent have made their entire libraries available in digital format. You can check out the whole report here (links to PDF).

The stats I found most interesting were those that effectively measured publishers’ realities and where they expect things to go. Judging by the numbers, it looks like they’re expecting Apple to dominate the ebook business sooner rather than later.

As the graphic below shows, the iPad is the overwhelming platform of choice for ebooks of fixed layout, which is a fancy word for those that don’t include any multimedia or other “enhanced” features:


That doesn’t necessarily measure up to how ebooks are being sold in Canada. As the second chart below shows, Kobo is the leader in this department, followed by Amazon with Apple in third:


Why are publishers putting most of their effort into designing ebooks for the iPad when Apple is only their third biggest sales channel? The conspiratorially minded might think it has to do with publishers’ efforts at buffing up ebook prices with the tech company – something that has brought all parties no end of grief from antitrust watchdogs.

But there’s probably something far simpler at work. If they’re gearing up for tablets, publishers are likely getting ready for the long-predicted death of the dedicated e-ink reader.