Print and Digital: Increasing Consumer Choice
For centuries societies have written or printed their discoveries, histories and fables in hardbound books. Digital technology has ushered in a new era of portability and flexibility: whereas thousands of books would once take up rooms of space, millions of books can now be stored in digital “cloud” libraries and readers can access them, anytime from anywhere, simply by tapping the screen of a pocket-sized device. Moreover, through the latest EPUB format for e-books, consumers are enjoying greater interactivity, more dynamic multimedia-enhanced content and more accessibility functionality.
Despite the prevalence of digital, publishers understand that reader preferences vary. Some like only print, some like only digital, and some want the best of both, settling in with a favorite paperback in the evening, while having instant access to thousands of e-books and interacting with digital journals, textbooks and other titles the rest of the day.
Source: AAP Monthly StatShot, December 2014
Today, as always, publishing is about giving consumers a great reading experience—from the discovery of a new author to re-reading a classic. Whether consumers choose to have that experience via paper or e-book remains entirely up to them. But for those who delight in digital as part of the mix, AAP member publishers are adopting a variety of digital technologies to provide consumers with innovative ways to access, interact with and enjoy their textbooks, novels, journals and other works.
E-books vs Print—the Fallacy of Lower Costs
The perception that e-books must cost less to produce than printed versions is erroneous. E-books and print share the same need for rigorous, high-quality writing, editing, research, design and production to ensure a satisfying reader experience. While e-books save on costs by eliminating paper and ink expenses, and by reducing the costs of inventory, shipping and the need to reclaim and recycle unused paper titles, there are new expenses such as interactivity and producing multiple file formats for different distributors.
Innovative Book and Journal Delivery
Today, more than half of digital-device owners have an e-book reader application. These readers want on-demand access to books, journals and textbooks wherever they bring their digital device.
Publishers are responding by exploring new delivery models made possible by modern technology. Through partnerships with online platform providers, technology companies and libraries, publishers are supporting more options for consumers and businesses to discover and read new works than ever before. These new models include digital subscriptions, e-lending, e-book rentals and print-on-demand.
Find Out More: Digital Delivery Models
How publishers are using digital platforms to expand consumer choice
New Ways for Consumers to Interact with Books
Publishers recognize that students, professionals and other readers have different expectations for print and digital books. Home-improvement e-books need embedded videos to demonstrate proper technique, and math e-textbooks need to integrate quizzes to assess whether a student has mastered a particular skill.
To integrate these new interactive features into a seamless digital reading or learning experience, publishers are improving their own tech-savvy and partnering with a range of technology companies.
Beyond interactivity, publishers are also embracing technology to make e-books social. Whether it’s an online author fan club, a real-time, online, storytelling festival, or a portal for librarians to give publishers feedback on books before they’re publicly released, publishers are embracing technology to create a vibrant and varied digital book culture.
Standardizing the Technologies Behind Digital Publishing
Readers expect to access, read and interact with any e-book or journal on whatever device they prefer. Ideally, they could enjoy and use these works seamlessly across all devices—tablets, smart phones, computers, etc.—without any effort.
Digital “clouds” are helping to make this a reality by enabling readers to create an account and authorize access on multiple devices. The full functionality of e-books and journals on different devices can still be a bit clunky, though.
Publishers don’t create the devices, but they do want readers to have a great experience regardless of the device they choose for accessing a work. To improve the quality of the reading experience across all devices, publishers are actively working to implement a standardized file format, EPUB3, to develop tools to help device manufacturers assess whether they are consistently displaying content, and to encourage cross-industry dialogues to improve interoperability.
Making Books Accessible
AAP and our member publishers have a long history of supporting efforts to ensure that accessible versions of copyrighted works are available to people who are blind or have other “print disabilities.” Still, only a small percentage of the world’s books are accessible to such individuals. Current technology, however, gives publishers, distributors and device manufacturers a chance to change this. By working together, our industries can end the inefficiency of creating separate, accessible formats and instead make it possible for the print disabled to shop for and read the same digital version of a bestseller or essential textbook that is marketed to the public at large.
To this end, AAP is engaged in a number of collaborative efforts to support accessibility domestically and internationally. In Washington, D.C., AAP is working with organizations representing the blind, universities and technology companies to develop national legislation to help define voluntary guidelines for creating accessible instructional materials (the Technology, Equality and Accessibility in College and Higher Education (TEACH) Act). AAP played a key role in organizing a cross-industry dialogue that identified key features of a widely-used e-book format, EPBU3, which can make content more accessible to the visually impaired (EPUB 3 Implementation Project).
Publishers have taken an active role internationally, participating in the pilot of the TIGAR (Trusted Intermediaries Global Accessible Resources) Service to encourage greater exchange of accessible copyrighted works across international borders. AAP was also an advocate for concluding the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Marrakesh Treaty, which aims to promote access to accessible copyrighted works and builds on TIGAR’s cross-border exchange program through the new Accessible Books Consortium (ABC).
Additional AAP Resources