E-books Becoming Big Business
Research firm Yankee Group estimates that the U.S. e-book market will reach $2.7 billion in sales in 2013, up from just $313 million in 2009. That's good for a growth rate of 83 percent, above even paid mobile apps, at 72 percent.
Already, Amazon claims that Kindle e-books now outsell paperback books on Amazon.com. This is great news for authors but they are not the only ones who can benefit. One of the advantages of e-books is the efficiency in which they can be published. Websites such as LuLu.com and CreateSpace.com (Amazon) make it quite easy to publish an e-book across multiple retailer sites on any topic. For business owners, this presents an opportunity to offer yet another added value to their customers and even add revenue along the way.
Expertise in any industry can be used to create an e-book in short order, then sell that material or use it as a promotional or cross-sell incentive. Amazon recently announced Kindle Singles - e-books in the range of 5,000-30,000 words. This could mean publishing white papers, how-to's or even re-packaging a series of blog posts around a particular topic as an e-book. Kindle Singles are currently selling anywhere from $0.99-$2.99, in most cases. Amazon typically takes 30 percent of each sale.
One factor attributing to the growth of the e-book market is dropping prices - estimated to fall to an average of $7 in 2013, from an average of $9 in 2009, according to Yankee Group. But e-book pricing is a situation in flux. Other estimates claim that e-book prices will actually increase in the months and years ahead. And, just this week, the U.K. Office of Fair Trading announced that they are investigating pricing arrangements between book publishers and digital retailers - the so-called "agency pricing" model already under scrutiny in the U.S. In short, agency pricing sees the publisher command a set price for each title, regardless of the vendor selling the e-book. So, consumers are theoretically left without the ability to seek competitive prices. This would appear to violate laws regulating competition.
The e-book market is growing, and quickly. The market is also in its infancy, so variations are to be expected. Although pricing is still murky, at best, there is no doubt that opportunities are abundant.