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Global e-books insight

TribLIVE

First published on http://triblive.com/

Last week’s official announcement of the iPad mini focused attention on the U.S. e-reading device market, but what about the global e-book market?

Providing insight earlier this month was Jo Henry, director of New Jersey-based Bowker Market Research, which does polling for publishers. Her opening keynote at Germany’s Tools of Change Frankfurt conference on the eve of the annual Frankfurt Book Fair previewed the findings of Bowker’s latest Global E-Book Monitor survey of 1,000 consumers in 10 countries.

The full report — a follow-up to a January survey — is due in November. Highlights of Henry’s speech, according to Publishers Weekly:

• Emerging markets’ growth is outpacing established markets’. For example: In India, 39 percent of respondents — up from 34 percent in the January survey — said they’d paid for an e-book or extract in the prior six months; the U.S. figure was 26 percent, up from 22 percent.

• About a third of respondents said they’d quit buying print books or were buying fewer.

• Most think e-books should cost about half what hardcover books cost, or about 80 percent of what paperbacks cost.

• About two-thirds said they’d never illegally download e-books.

The differing U.S. and India growth rates reflect the fact that the U.S. market — which has led the e-book revolution — has existed longer and thus is more mature than newer e-book markets elsewhere.

The findings on price and ongoing print purchases suggest that publishers would be wise to continue one of e-books’ key attractions — lower prices — but must walk a fine pricing line if they want to keep selling print books, too.

And as for illegal downloading, the results could have been much worse for publishers. But with about a third of readers seemingly open to acquiring e-books illicitly, the industry still has much work to do in that area.

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