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Digital Textbooks Outselling Print Books at Major Publisher

  • Published on March 11, 2016
Digital Textbooks Outselling Print Books at Major Publisher

The educational textbook market has been seeing high growth in the sales of digital books compared to print books over the past several years. Recent reports show that this trend is continuing, with more schools and students buying digital books than print books according to data provided by one of the larger textbook publishers. This week textbook publisher McGraw Hill Education stated that in the previous year the sales of digital book titles outsold print books for the first time ever at the company. As a publisher, McGraw Hill Education offers more than 1,400 titles in a digital format, and they reported double-digit percentage growth is continuing this year for their digital book titles.

Creating digital versions of print books

For publishers, the digital versions of books can be created from the same source documents used to create the print. For many publishers, this means they have been able to continue to use the same workflow, using tools such as Adobe InDesign to layout their books, using the same source files for both print and digital book titles. Many book publishers have spent the past several years sending their employees to InDesign training along with ebook classes courses so that they can efficiently create digital books. To make the content more compelling, some are even having their staff learn After Effects and other animation tools so that they can add interactivity to the digital versions of the books. This allows publishers to insert interactive elements directly into the digital versions of the books, replacing static pictures with animations.

As Adobe has transitioned InDesign so that it can be used for creating both print and digital formats of books, most publishers have continued to use this because it is a tool they know, and already have legacy content created using InDesign. This allows publishers to transition older books into digital formats as well.

Digital Books Improve Profits compared to Print Books

While book publishers often point to increased engagement with digital textbooks, the real drive behind most publishers pushing digital versions of their products is the increased profits of digital books compared to print books. As publishers no longer need to print, warehouse, transport, and deal with unsold inventory, they are able to see increased profitability. As books move to a license model that is renewed annually, publishers that succeed at making the transition are able to see consistent revenues without the need for the infrastructure associated with printed books. With more schools adopting digital learning tools such as the iPad, the trend towards increasing digital textbooks is likely to continue.

About the author

Christopher Smith is president of American Graphics Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the publisher and editor of the Digital Classroom book series, which have sold more than one million copies. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers and to large technology companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and HP. An expert on web analytics and digital marketing, he delivers Google Analytics training along with workshops on digital marketing topics. He is also the author of more than 10 books on electronic publishing tools and technologies, including the Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies. Christopher did his undergraduate studies the at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for Quark, Inc. prior to joining American Graphics Institute where he has worked for 20 years.