Goodreads + Amazon: Winners and losers
Content ownership and resale

Current state of formats and platforms

Remember the old days when PDF was pretty much the only way to distribute content and those PDFs were read on computer screens? PDF still lives, of course, but now we're also faced with offering content in mobi and EPUB formats for consumption on a variety of platforms and devices.

SPi Global released a free whitepaper this week that covers the current state of formats and platforms. It's called Demystifying the King: Making Content Available to All and you can download it here.

I like the quote on page 2 from Sara Domville about how we live in a "content explosion model" where "content has broken free of constraints and can be used in multiple ways." Many publishers are still struggling with converting print to digital and probably haven't fully thought through the opportunities in repurposing their content as Sara suggests. They're also asking themselves the important question posed on page 3 of the whitepaper: What is the most efficient way to bring content to market?

The legacy of PDF is evident later in the document where we read that 73% of publishers responding to an SPi Global survey say they're distributing in Adobe's format while only 60-64% are distributing in mobi or EPUB formats. So there are still a number of publishers who are in the ebook marketplace with PDFs only, obviously missing out on the largest retail opportunities at Amazon, Google, B&N, Kobo, etc.

On page 8 we read, "publishers want more readers supporting EPUB 3 functionalities so more adoption and budget can be put into developing EPUB 3 files." And I'll bet if reader app vendors were polled they'd say they're waiting for publishers to produce more content that takes full advantage of EPUB 3 features before investing their development resources to support it. The classic chicken-and-egg scenario.

If you're looking for a quick overview on what's going on in the world of formats and platforms you should download this whitepaper. It also has several other interesting stats on where the market is today as well as where we might be heading.


David N. Welton

> publishers want more readers supporting EPUB 3 functionalities so more adoption and budget can be put into developing EPUB 3 files.

Something worth considering are all the self-publishers out there. The more there is room for big companies to sink 'budget' into fancy files, the more they may be able to distance themselves from self publishers. Perhaps for them it's a good thing, but I think this is a very interesting moment in time for ebooks precisely because big publishers really do not have the room to outspend self published authors on their formatting and layout, in terms of your average ebook.

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