Survey says …

The Association of American University Presses (AAUP) recently published the results of its third survey of "digital book publishing in the AAUP community". Previous studies had been conducted in early 2010 and the spring of 2011.

Conducted among the AAUP's 130-plus members, the survey has grown to includes responses from 60% of the presses AAUP represents. The 2012 version gathered data about eBook revenues, digital strategies for marketing and discovery and choices made about format and channel availability.

Most of the presses are small; two thirds of those responding have annual revenues under $3 million. With that as a backdrop, it is interesting to see how much attention is being paid to new formats, channels and business models:

  • 93% of those responding are supporting backlist conversion to digital or POD formats, with the same share selling individual eBooks
  • 87% provide EPUB, well ahead of AZW and .mobi (both at 49%) but still behind PDF (94%)
  • Across the 80 presses that responded, digital access is provided by 47 different vendors or aggregators (perhaps a shakeout is on the horizon)
  • That said, only 10% recorded digital revenues above 10% of their totals; the majority saw digital make up less than 5% of the whole

Both Google Books and Amazon's "Search Inside" feature were cited frequently as choices for digital discovery, while "social media" was the overwhelming choice for digital marketing services. Although all 80 presses appear to use ISBNs to identify their books, only four assign unique ISBNs for each vendor format.

The survey includes perspectives on a range of digital publishing issues (23 topics are named). It's a useful report that should resonate most with smaller publishers both inside and outside the university press world.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.