The Small Publisher Ebook Report


Summary of Findings

This survey leads to a number of interesting suppositions. They can be summarised as follows:

  1. The majority of small publishers make under 10% of their sales in ebook format,
  2. Most small publishers expect their ebook sales to expand next year,
  3. The USA is the largest ebook market for most publishers, regardless of their home location,
  4. Most publishers use a mixture of print and digital proof copies. Few publishers are distributing proofs entirely in digital format,
  5. Publishers are most likely to have been selling ebooks for between two and three years,
  6. The majority of small presses outsource at least some aspects of their ebook production,
  7. Most publishers are disinterested in fixed layout ebooks,
  8. Most small publishers are satisfied or very satisfied with their in-house ebook production skills,
  9. Most small publishers are neutral or satisfied with the ebook knowledge of their non-production staff,
  10. Most publishers spend between USD$50 and $100 on the production of an average ebook,
  11. Most publishers consider ebook production costs to be ‘low’ or ‘average’,
  12. Ebooks are most likely to be produced in under two weeks, and outsourced production takes marginally longer than in-house production,
  13. Most publishers are satisfied or very satisfied with the design quality of their ebooks,
  14. Most publishers have not received customer feedback on their ebooks, but what feedback has been received has been largely positive,
  15. A third of small publishers have employed a designer to work on the appearance of their ebooks. None of the publishers who employed a designer reported receiving negative feedback on their ebooks,
  16. Most publishers have no plans to alter the design of their ebooks,
  17. Few publishers are interested in the reputational value of producing ‘cutting-edge’ ebooks,
  18. Most publishers outsource their ebook distribution,
  19. Ingram is the most popular wholesaler of ebooks,
  20. The most popular retailers are Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Nook, in that order,
  21. Only a third of respondents sell ebooks directly from their websites,
  22. Many publishers are confused about DRM, but most believe it applies to their books,
  23. Publishers are supportive of DRM in theory, but less certain about it in practice, and
  24. Publishers are divided on whether they would wish to sell their books without DRM.

A significant proportion of the small publishers surveyed displayed poor knowledge of ebook production processes generally, and even of their own ebook businesses. Interestingly, the opinions expressed by my case study interviewees varied substantially from the broader consensus on a number of topics, including DRM.