“A Maturing Ebook Market” recounts the results of “a new Book Business/ InfoTrends study” as commented on by Stephanie Pieruccini & Bryan Yeager of InfoTrends. While the study finds that print books would be with us for the foreseeable future (63 percent of book publishers see no end in sight for producing printed books as part of their mix), ebooks are where the growth is. “Of those respondents not currently producing ebooks, 85 percent are planning to offer ebooks within the next three years” and “about 80 percent of book publishers surveyed report having a strategy in place for making backlist titles available as ebooks.” Given all of this, is is little surprise that the study found that the ebook user experience is a primary concern for many.
But as Pieruccini & Yeager make clear, improving that experience will not be easy. The technology is not there yet. As the article points out “publishers and device manufacturers have been criticized for the limited font choices and lack of consideration for the flow of ebook text on mobile devices.” The primary culprit seems to be issues with the two primary “print” formats. The more limited Adobe PDF is still the primary format, and while EPUB is far more flexible, converting poses problems. Besides, as of now, Amazon’s Kindle does not support EPUB. In addition, “with the wide variety of mobile devices and deliverable formats available on the market, it can be quite difficult to ensure a consistent user experience on every device.” The survey also shows that publishers need to show more commitment to testing on multiple devices if they hope to improve the user experience. As the survey makes clear, while impressive stride have been made, a lot more needs to be done.